According to a study by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, in a business-as-usual scenario, there may be more plastic by weight in the ocean than fish by 2050. Meanwhile, the Chinese government has effectively banned the importation of waste for recycling. The closure of this major waste market has highlighted the structural weaknesses in our current systems. Public concern over these issues has helped create an unprecedented opportunity for change.
A system wide approach to solving the issues is required. It must tackle the systemic causes of the problems, rather than individual symptoms.
We propose a circular economy approach. This is where the life cycles of materials are maximised, usage optimised and at the end of life all materials are reutilised. It provides a framework for the solutions required. It is a viable antidote to the dominant linear, ‘take, make, waste’ approach exemplified by the current problems with plastic packaging.