Beyond plastic waste

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Science  17 Nov 2017:
Vol. 358, Issue 6365, pp. 843
DOI: 10.1126/science.aao6749

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  • RE: Beyond plastic waste
    • Tony Robert Walker, Assistant Professor, School for Resource and Environmental Studies, Dalhousie University

    China bans plastic waste imports 

    China has been the largest global importer of recycled plastic, but imports of recycled plastic were banned in December 2017 (1, 2). Impacts of banning plastic imports from developed countries will be far-reaching. Now that the largest market for recycled plastics has closed, many developed countries are concerned and scrambling to decide what to do with growing mountains of plastic waste. Most countries lack appropriate strategies to deal with so much plastic waste and are now forced to make waste management decisions, such as landfilling, following the recent ban by China (2). Even if landfilling plastic waste was available, many jurisdictions now have legislation banning this as an option (3). Stock piling plastic waste until short or long-term solutions are found, also poses challenges as there have been hundreds of fires where these materials are stored (4).

    However, China’s decision to ban imports of recycled plastic could be a game changer for benefit of the planet, which is already drowning in plastic (5, 6). Changing consumer behavior and implementing international policies and strategies to reduce plastics are gaining rapid popularity (7, 8). International bans and financial disincentives to limit use of single-use plastics (plastic bags and microbeads) have shown positive results and helped change consumer behavior (9). Other policies to reduce single-use plastics include banning plastic drinking straws, deposit an...

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    Competing Interests: None declared.
  • Raising society's moral standards play a key role for alleviating plastic waste problems
    • Michiyo Takefuji, housewife
    • Other Contributors:
      • Yoshiyasu Takefuji, Professor, Keio University

    Dame Ellen MacArthur wrote an editorial article of plastic waste problems (1). She stated in the article that, if the current trend continues, there could be more plastic than fish by weight in the oceans by 2050. It is important that our society must be aware of the current plastic waste problems. Not only industries but also consumers must understand and solve the plastic waste problems with tight collaborations. In order to solve the plastic waste problems, we must raise society's moral standards by awareness education. Self, motivation to learn, and self-regulated learning are critical in education for raising society's moral standards (2). Individual efforts to tackle the problems should be more rewarded. Current recycle incentives to consumers with a penalty policy to industries are necessary, but not sufficient. Weight competitions of collecting plastic waste between schools might be a good incentive. Instead of hiring professional cleaning experts, Kiyota Iikura who is an NPO founder in 2008 has started the competition by weight for collecting garbage and recycled waste in the small town in Japan. Consequently, garbage/waste problems have been alleviated in the small town (3). Remember that dumped plastic waste falls into our debt.

    1. Dame Ellen MacArthur, "Beyond plastic waste", Science, 17 Nov 2017: Vol. 358, Issue 6365, pp. 843
    2. Robert W. Roeser, et al., "An Education in Awareness: Self, Motivat...

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    Competing Interests: None declared.

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