While plastics are extremely useful materials for modern society, plastics production and waste generation continue to increase with worsening environmental impacts despite international, national and local policy responses, as well as industry commitments. The urgent need to make the lifecycle of plastics more circular calls for an expansion of national policies and improved international co-operation to mitigate environmental impacts all along the value chain.
The first of two reports, this Outlook intends to inform and support policy efforts to combat plastic leakage. The report quantifies the current production, use, disposal and key environmental impacts throughout the entire plastics lifecycle and identifies opportunities for reducing the negative externalities. It also investigates how plastics use and waste have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic across sectors and regions. The Outlook identifies four key levers for bending the plastics curve: stronger support for recycled (secondary) plastics markets; policies to boost technological innovation in plastics; more ambitious domestic policy measures; and greater international co-operation.