WWF study: plastics cause 1.8 billion tons of CO2 annually

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Plastics not only pollute the oceans or harm health as microparticles, they also cause 1.8 billion tons of greenhouse gases each year.
Microplastics measured in the Danube
They also cause billions in follow-up costs. If plastic were a state, it would be “the fifth largest CO2 offender worldwide,” a WWF release said Monday on the findings of a study with the self-explanatory title “Plastic: The Costs To Society, The Environment And The Economy.”

Plastic caused costs of 3,100 billion euros in 2019
The consequential costs of plastics on society, the environment and the economy were calculated by experts from the environmental consulting agency Dalberg Advisors on behalf of the NGO. According to them, the global plastic volume in 2019 caused costs of 3,100 billion euros – about eight times the gross domestic product of Austria. The enormous sum arises from the production, recycling and waste of plastics. Every euro spent on plastic generates ten euros in further costs over its life cycle. The main culprit is around 200 million tons of plastic waste each year, of which around 5.5 percent tons end up in the sea, according to this study, and 41 percent in total is not recycled. “

2050: Plastic weighs more than all the fish in the sea
“If this continues, plastic will weigh more than all the fish in the sea by 2050. The costs are not only unsustainable for marine ecosystems, but also increasingly threaten the fishing and tourism industries,” said Axel Hein, marine expert at WWF Austria. And these costs are not reflected in the selling price of cheaply available plastic products. “The price of plastic was around $1,000 per ton in the 2019 study period. But the cost of the released greenhouse gases of plastic alone amounts to $171 billion,” the WWF release said.

Microplastics penetrate the human food chain
And over the years and centuries, visible plastic parts eventually become microplastic: “So it even penetrates our food chain,” Hein warned, citing another study according to which each person consumes five grams of microplastic per week, which is equivalent to the consumption of a credit card.

Plastic production and its consequences are continuing to grow: “According to our study, the amount of plastic will double by 2040 unless action is taken quickly and decisively. This environmental problem is getting worse year by year and will weigh heavily on the shoulders of future generations,” Hein warned again. Without a reversal of the trend, global plastic emissions will be responsible for one-fifth of global CO2 emissions by 2040, according to the study.

WWF wants binding agreement against the plastic flood
WWF is therefore calling for a global, legally binding agreement against the plastic flood to be adopted at the UN Environment Assembly (UNEA) in February 2022 and to bring about an end to the “plastic crisis” by 2030. The prerequisite would be a worldwide global approach. For Austria, WWF sees the need for an expansion of reusable offers and a rapid implementation of a nationwide deposit system for single-use plastic bottles and beverage cans.

  • sources: APA/vienna.at/wwf.de
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