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Research: 2024 sees continued increase in plastic waste
FoodBev Media

FoodBev Media

15 April 2024

Research: 2024 sees continued increase in plastic waste

New research has found that a staggering 220 million tonnes of plastic waste is set to be generated in 2024, marking a 7.11% increase since 2021. The latest study, by charity EA Earth Action, and released last week, revealed that more than a third of plastic waste will be improperly handled at the end of its lifecycle. This equates to 68.6 million tonnes of plastic, translating to an average of 28kg of plastic waste per person worldwide. The report also announced this year's Plastic Overshoot Day, on 5 September 2024, which marks the moment when the amount of plastic waste generated surpasses the world's ability to manage it. Each country has its own Plastic Overshoot Day, determined by its plastic waste generation and management capacity. The EA Earth Action report identifies 117 days of plastic overshoot, meaning the plastic waste produced during these days 'will not be well managed'. It says that only 12 countries are responsible for 60% of the global mismanaged plastic waste. Among them, the top five are China, the US, India, Brazil and Mexico.

The charity has classified countries into six archetypes, providing tailored recommendations for improving waste management. These include reducing plastic consumption, promoting circular economy models like repair and reuse initiatives, implementing robust waste management policies such as extended producer responsibilities, enhancing local waste management infrastructure and halting the import of plastic waste from other countries.

Sarah Perreard, co-CEO at EA Earth Action & Plastic Footprint Network, said: “The findings are unequivocal; improvements in waste management capacity are outpaced by rising plastic production, making progress almost invisible. The assumption that recycling and waste management capacity will solve the plastics crisis is flawed.”

“The 2024 Plastic Overshoot Day report can serve both as a testament to our current trajectory and as a blueprint for necessary action. The decisions made today will echo through ecosystems and economies for generations. Ahead of UN Plastic Treaty negotiations in Ottawa, we call for a steadfast pursuit of science-driven, robust global policy that matches the scale of the plastic pollution problem. Let 2024 be the year we pivot to a trajectory that embraces reduction, ensuring the legacy we leave is not one buried in plastic.”

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