Single-Use Plastic Production is Increasing Despite Pledges, Study Reveals
New research released on 6 February revealed that despite awareness and more stringent regulations around the world to curb plastic pollution, global production of single-use plastic had risen by 6 million tons per year from 2019 to 2021. Producers have failed to make meaningful advances to expand recycling nor mitigate the issue.
While growth has slowed down recently, production of single-use plastic from virgin fossil fuel sources is nowhere near its peak. Additionally, the use of recycled feedstocks is still at best “a marginal activity”, Australia’s Minderoo Foundation said in its Plastic Waste Makers Index.
The studies concluded that despite promises from businesses to utilize more recycled and bio-based plastics, the global single-use plastic stock in 2021 was “still almost entirely made from fossil-fuel-based virgin feedstocks”. This is partially because of difficulties in scaling recycling capacity.
“Make no mistake, the plastic waste crisis is going to get significantly worse before we see an absolute year-on-year decline in virgin single-use plastic consumption,” it said.
To put things into perspective, global single-use of plastic production was 137 million metric tons in 2021. Minderoo Foundation projects that amount will increase to 154 million metric tons by 2027. It also predicts that only 3% of the plastics produced in 2007 will be recycled.
The Foundation is calling on polymer producers to have at least 20% of their single-use plastics produced from recycled feedstocks. It also urges investors to support this target or demand targets on recycled feedstocks.