Plastic has an astonishingly carbon intensive life cycle – its production, use and disposal are estimated to have contributed nearly 1.8 billion metric tons of CO2 emissions in 2015 alone. According to The International Energy Agency, plastics and other petrochemical products will be the leading driver of global oil demand to 2050, potentially impacting on GHG reductions made in other sectors. The plastic sector alone will use up 19% of the entire global carbon budget till 2040 if it continues to grow under business as usual scenario.
In addition, more than 90% of plastic worldwide is not recycled. Many other products manufactured to satisfy consumer demand use materials that cannot be recycled or reused.
The law has now addressed the harm caused by consumers’ reliance on unsustainable product design - in March 2020, the European Commission published a new Circular Economy Action Plan (CEAP) as part of its Green Deal, which aims to promote circular economy processes and foster sustainable consumption. The CEAP also proposes an amendment to the Ecodesign for Energy-Related Products Directive 2009 to change the pattern of goods production towards reusable, durable and repairable products. In the UK, The Environmental Protection (Plastic Straws, Cotton Buds and Stirrers) (England) Regulations 2020 will ban many single-use-plastic products once the draft legislation receives the relevant approvals.