Single-use plastics a major driver of climate change – The Guardian

The Center for International Environmental Law’s (CIEL) report “Plastic & Climate- The Hidden Costs of a Plastic Planet” released in May 2019 assesses the effect plastic production, its use and disposal is having on climate change. 

Assuming the report is accurate, which we have not yet assessed, though we see no reason to question the findings, the report adds another string to the world-wide publicity bow about plastics. These reports provide more details to support the messages about human use of plastic delivered by the likes of David Attenborough in Blue Planet II, Liz Bonnin’s BBC documentary “Drowning in Plastic”, The Ellen Macarthur Foundation’s reports and so on. The public information and reports just keeps on coming.

The CIEL report points out that our use of plastics and its contribution to CO2e emission is substantial and is increasing dramatically as we read the report. However the oil and gas industry around the world and especially in the US are planning huge expansions to meet the demands of the packaging industry as required by the global corporates leading the FMCG industry.

The CIEL report calls for high-priority, urgent and ambitious action including:

  • ending the production and use of single-use, disposable plastic;

  • stopping development of new oil, gas, and petrochemical infrastructure;

  • fostering the transition to zero-waste communities;

  • implementing extended producer responsibility as a critical component of circular economies; and

  • adopting and enforcing ambitious targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from all sectors, including plastic production.

The highly respected Ellen Macarthur Foundation report  “The New Plastics Economy: Rethinking the future of plastics & catalysing action” first published December 2017 suggests a New Plastics Economy with three main ambitions;

  1. Create an effective after-use plastics economy by improving the economics and uptake of recycling, reuse and controlled biodegradation for targeted applications

  2. Drastically reduce leakage of plastics into natural systems (in particular the ocean) and other negative externalities

  3. Decouple plastics from fossil feedstocks by – in addition to reducing cycle losses and dematerialising – exploring and adopting renewably sourced feedstocks.


Dr. Ian Davison believes that closed-loop recycling is fundamentally important to the future of our life on Earth.

We support all these calls to action. However, we see one flaw. They all require governments to act and in particular western government action. The chances of this action occurring in the next ten or twenty years is unlikely. To consider any other outcome is contradictory to what has gone before. Further current western world governments are splintered in their support for joint international action. Some are openly against the need to take any action. As a consequence, there is even less likelihood of local, national or international action now or in the future than there has been in the past. With populist movements becoming more prominent in western democracies, the likelihood of any local, national or international government action is further exacerbated.

As a consequence, we consider the only solution is for individuals to take action.

End-of-pipe clean-up actions in the oceans and on the beaches by local communities and individuals are fantastic. However, end-of-pipe activities do not solve the plastic problem, for example. Upstream solutions that reduce and restrict the pollution in the first place are required. Along with consumer-lead activities like reduced consumption, re-use of materials, reducing single-use plastic, another important circular economy up-stream must have is closed-loop recycling. And the great thing is individuals and businesses will soon be able to 100% close-loop recycle their used-materials. Individuals will be able to act - by taking upstream action.

Jeff Hilliker is a ReCircle investor and shareholder who believes there are health benefits attached to recycling.

As individuals, ReCircle Recycling Ltd and its team is taking action. It is developing closed-loop recycling appliances and equipment for homes and industry to empower households, businesses and organisations to closed-loop recycle. No international, national or local government regulations are needed. Just the interest, support and joint-actions of individuals working together. Reduced consumption, re-use of materials and reducing single-use plastic are must dos. So too is closed-loop recycling a must have. ReCircle Recycling Ltd’s goal is to enable individuals to act and contribute to and also benefit from their own closed-loop recycling and together deliver the must-have circular economy.

You can help us develop a closed-loop recycling system designed to meet the requirements of the must-have circular economy. View our equity crowdfunding campaign on CrowdCube to find out more. Investments of this nature carry risks to your capital. Please Invest Aware.

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