When considering what needs to happen in order to solve the plastic crisis, policy is not often my primary focus. I am not politically inclined, and to me the heart of the problem lies in consumption.
The truth is that no matter how much we minimize our consumption of plastic products, there will always be plastic in our lives. That is inevitable. So policy that targets the industry, and couples production wth recycling could make a big difference in closing the recycling loop. I was amazed to learn all of the little changes that could be made at the production end to make recycling easier. Things like minimizing additives, including colors, and minimizing “multi-material” packaging…think granola food wrapper, that shiny, looks almost like tin-foil, but is really plastic, material. Completely non-recycleable. These types of food wrappers are among the most frequently found types of trash found globally (International Coastal Cleanup, 2016). Thus, changing their production and making them recyclable is an important step forward.
The trouble seems to be that the production side of the industry is not responsible for the disposal/recycling, and to redesign products requires money, and there is simply not incentive for them to do it. That is where policy actions can become important.
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