Plastic recycling increases its toxic impact – Greenpeace
The process of plastic recycling only increases its toxic impact on the environment. Recycling can no longer be seen as a solution to the problem. The only way to save the planet from plastic is to reduce its production.
This is the message delivered by Greenpeace on the eve of the latest round of the Global Plastics Treaty negotiations.
Plastics contain more than 13,000 chemicals, with more than 3,200 of them known to be hazardous to human health. Toxicity and hazardous impact of plastic on the environment increases with recycling, says a study on the harmful effects of the recycling process.
"Plastics are inherently incompatible with a circular economy" – which is based on recovery and rational consumption – The Global Environmental Network said in a new report on the threshold of new Global Plastics Treaty negotiations.
Last year, 173 countries agreed to develop a treaty covering and regulating all processes related to the life cycle of plastic from production to disposal. Next week, the participating countries are due to meet in Paris to discuss the treaty. However, the negotiation process has already been criticized for the absence of countries harmed by dumping and burning of plastic waste. Without their voices, the environmental activists fear that negotiations will be swayed by corporate interests.
“The plastics industry – including fossil fuel, petrochemical and consumer goods companies – continues to put forward plastic recycling as the solution to the plastic pollution crisis. But this report proves the toxicity of plastic actually increases with recycling. Plastics have no place in a circular economy and it’s clear that the only real solution to ending plastic pollution is to massively reduce plastic production,” said Graham Forbes, who leads Greenpeace USA’s global plastics campaign.
Since the mid-century, global plastic production has reached about 8 billion tons. In its report, Greenpeace notes that a tiny amount of the world's plastic is ever recycled - about 9% - but even that plastic is highly toxic, multiplying the harm to human health.
Global plastic production is expected to grow and triple by 2060, according to an inertial forecast. In order to avoid this, Greenpeace said any global plastics treaty must achieve immediate significant reductions in plastic production.