About Plastic Free – The Plastic Free July Challenge, first started as a local initiative of the Western Metropolitan Regional Council in Western Australia, has rapidly grown into a global movement engaging millions of people in more than 170 countries around the world.
The campaign encourages citizens and businesses to change their behavior in favor of avoiding single-use plastics and reducing plastic waste. In order to be able to support the growing global reach of the campaign and the plastic free movement, in 2017 Plastic Free July transitioned to the Plastic Free Foundation Ltd, which is a registered charity with the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (and with the Charities Aid Foundation of America, internationally).
The Problem with Plastic – Damages caused by plastic consumption and pollutions is occupying an increasing space in the news, and the question of how to deal with plastic waste has quickly ranked among the top environmental issues.
Plastic pollution is increasing and our recycling systems are being challenged.Even more importantly, the damages deriving from plastic pollution have a very negative impact on the oceans and wildlife health, and consequently, on the wellbeing of the entire humankind.
In 1950 the world produced only 2 million tonnes per year. Since then, annual production has increased nearly 200-fold, reaching 381 million tonnes in 2015. For context, this is roughly equivalent to the mass of two-thirds of the world population.
How much plastic has the world produced cumulatively? The chart shows that by 2015, the world had produced 7.8 billion tonnes of plastic — more than one tonne of plastic for every person alive today.
Plastic Disposal Methods – Plastic disposal methods have changed significantly, over time, at a global level. This charts presents us with the share of global plastic waste that has been discarded, recycled or incinerated from 1980 to 2015, roughly covering 15 years of waste disposal.
Prior to 1980, recycling and incineration of plastic was negligible; 100 percent was therefore discarded. From 1980 for incineration, and 1990 for recycling, rates increased on average by about 0.7 percent per year.
In 2015, an estimated 55 percent of global plastic waste was discarded, 25 percent was incinerated, and 20 percent recycled.
If we extrapolate historical trends through to 2050— as can be seen in the chart — by 2050, incineration rates would increase to 50 percent; recycling to 44 percent; and discarded waste would fall to 6 percent.
An collective action, worldwide – After extensive consultation, a new online platform for Plastic Free July was created last year, in order to share resources, ideas, and stories and even better help people to reduce single-use plastic waste in their homes and communities. In other words, the community has been increasing exponentially, so that the project could reach as many people as possible. Inbuilt evaluation tools help participants discover the plastics in their life and measure their success as well as allowing us to track the trends in the common plastics that households use.
Plastic Free July was then established as a collaborative effort, with participants not only changing their own behavior and reducing waste, but also making a difference in their communities.
For more tips on reducing single-use plastics, visit plasticfreejuly.org and become the change.
Written by: Giulia Interesse