If nothing is done, humanity will produce three times more plastic waste in 2060

Plastic production and waste will increase sharply by 2060, even if strong framework measures are taken at the global level, warns this Friday, June 3 the OECD, while the UN recently launched negotiations to fight against this contamination.

“Significant threat to human health”: microplastics are also in the air

If nothing is done, the production of plastic will almost triple compared to 2019, from 460 million tonnes to 1,231 million tonnes, and that of plastic waste will increase in the same proportions, from 353 to 1,014 million tonnes. , according to this report on “Global Plastics Perspectives: Policy Scenarios to 2060”.

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The UN launched negotiations in early March for a global treaty against plastic pollution, a scourge that threatens the environment and contributes to the collapse of biodiversity. But the finalization of a text is not expected before 2024. The hundreds of millions of tons of waste produced each year, which degrades into microplastics, are found in all the oceans of the globe, in the sea ice, in the bodies of humans and animals, and even in air sampled from mountaintops.

Two scenarios

The OECD is evaluating two scenarios with reinforced measures covering the entire life cycle of plastics (production/use/recycling or disposal), as provided for in the mandate of the negotiators of the future international treaty.

The first scenario “regional action” provides for differentiated commitments by country, with more ambitious measures for those in the OECD, which are wealthier. The second, “global ambition”consider “a set of very rigorous measures intended to reduce global plastic discharges to a level close to zero by 2060”. But even in these two scenarios, the use of plastics and the production of waste are increasing sharply.

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In “regional action”, the production of plastics drops from 460 Mt to 1,018 Mt (i.e. 17% less than the level expected if nothing is done) and that of waste climbs from 353 Mt to 837 Mt (also -17%). Only the quantities of “mismanaged waste” and “plastic waste” in the environment would fall in absolute value compared to the level of 2019.

Stocks in aquatic environments multiplied by three

The volume of mismanaged waste would increase from 79 million tons in 2019 to 59 million tons in 2060 in the regional scenario and to 6 million tons in the global scenario, against an increase to 153 million tons if nothing is done . Discharges into nature would decrease from 22 million tonnes to 20 million tonnes in the regional scenario and 6 million tonnes in the global scenario, against an increase to 44 million tonnes without any measures.

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If nothing is done, the stocks already accumulated in aquatic environments would be multiplied by three for rivers and lakes (109 to 348 million tonnes) and by almost five in the oceans (30 to 145 million tonnes ).

For the first time, microplastics have been discovered in human blood

The OECD believes that both reduction scenarios could be implemented “for a relatively modest cost in relation to GDP”. Regional action would result in a reduction of “only 0.3%” of global GDP compared to the scenario ” reference “, without any limiting action. But with strong regional disparities, the main losers being sub-Saharan Africa (1.1%) and European Union countries that are not members of the OECD (1.8%). The scenario “global ambition” would reduce global GDP by 0.8% compared to the reference scenario, “which shows once again that public policies have a fairly limited economic cost”underlines the OECD.

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