With their longtime dedication to using “evidence-based, nonpartisan analysis to solve today’s challenges,” experts at The Pew Charitable Trusts support scientists and scientific projects aimed at some of the world’s thorniest problems. Calling plastic pollution “one of the greatest environmental challenges of our generation,” they’re bringing together an impressive array of institutions and organizations to work on solutions.
As we all know, plastic pollution is endangering water quality, hundreds of marine species, the food chain, and beaches and coasts worldwide, and the problem worsening, even with this awareness.
Together under Pew’s leadership, the University of Oxford, University of Leeds, Ellen MacArthur Foundation, Common Seas and SYSTEMIQ are developing a report and recommendations to be released later this year.
So many players have to work in concert – industries, consumers, producers, waste managers, investors and governments – to make the broad and deep changes needed to save the world’s oceans. It can be done, and it must be done.
The Pew effort is looking at specific categories of plastics, which can be useful for developing specific recommendations. These include:
Rigid monomaterial plastics: These made from a single plastic polymer that holds its shape. Examples are bottles (water bottles, milk bottles, and the bottles containing many liquid consumer products from juice to laundry detergents), pots and trays (like yogurt and lunch meat containers), household goods like buckets and flip flops, and much more. More than a million plastic bottles a minute enter the waste cycle, the Guardian reports.
Multilayer/multimaterial plastics: These are made of a mix of plastic and nonplastic sources, including aluminum, laminated paper and various polymers and are used for packaging. You’re usually holding one of these in your hand when you wonder, “Can I recycle this?” Packets of instant coffee, toothpaste tubes, laminated juice and milk cartons, and disposable diapers are examples.
The pollution sources are myriad and often complex, and solutions will be too. Pew suggests “new delivery models,” “alternative packaging materials,” changes in “production and supply chains to point-of-sale options and recycling” can all help. We look forward to the report and recommendations.