Plastic is an incredibly useful and versatile material, which brings significant value to society, and provides a number of environmental benefits as compared to alternative types of materials. However, leakage of plastics to the environment is an issue of increasing global concern.
Given the complexity of the challenge, there is no ‘silver bullet’ for addressing it. Instead, system-wide change is required, incorporating a broad range of upstream and downstream interventions, and a concerted effort among all relevant role players.
In particular, transitioning to a circular economy for plastics is widely acknowledged as being critical for addressing the issue of plastic leakage, while potentially bringing a range of additional socio-economic and environmental benefits. A circular economy “entails keeping materials and products in circulation for as long as possible through practices such as reuse of products, sharing of underused assets, repairing, recycling and remanufacturing” (Schröder, 2020). It is based on three principles: Design out waste and pollution; keep products and materials in use; and regenerate natural systems.
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