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According to a WWF survey, the country produces 11.3 million tons of plastic waste, but reinserts less than 2% in the industry. Learn what the production chain is doing to change this scenario

International NPO WWF published the report Solving Plastic Pollution: Transparency and Accountability, which states the “urgency of a global treaty to hold back plastic pollution.”

According to this document, which uses the World Bank’s What a Waste 2.0 report, Brazil ranks fourth in the global waste producer ranking, with 11.3 billion tons. Out of this total, WWF states that 91% are collected, but only 1.28% is actually reinserted in the production chain – one of the lowest global rates and well below the global average of 9%.

Hence, according to the survey, 7.7 million tons of material are disposed of in landfills and other 2.4 million tons have irregular destination, especially in landfills and open dumps.

According to the study, up to 2030 over 104 million tons of plastic will pollute our ecosystems worldwide. 10 million tons are littered into oceans every year. “Our existing method of producing, using and disposing of plastic is fundamentally broken,” said Marco Lambertini, Director General of WWF-International.

Abiplast: plastic recycling may go as far as 25%

The Brazilian Plastic Industry Association (Abiplast) says the WWF figures are inaccurate. The entity, based on the document Perfil da Indústria Brasileira de Transformados Plásticos (Profile of the Brazilian Plastics Processing Industry), claims that 6.5 million tons of such material were consumed in Brazil in 2017 (newest data). Hence, the total volume in the country is 20% of the total released by WWF, according to Abiplast.

Abiplast also points out, based on a study on production chain committed to the Foundation Institute of Administration (FIA) and the University of São Paulo (USP), that 550 thousand tons of this product were recycled in Brazil in 2016. Thus, taking into account short-lived plastics, the recycling rate is 25.8%, said the entity.

Coleta de plástico. Crédito: Sander Wehkamp/Unsplash

WWF: reinserting plastic in value chain is key

The NPO justifies that data used in its report and those presented by Abiplast apply different methodologies, but both show that, in fact, Brazil has a high rate of collection, considering “total value of plastic waste disposed in municipal solid waste, industrial waste, construction waste, electronic waste and agricultural waste, during the manufacture of products within one year,” according to the World Bank.

The problem lies in reinserting it into the production chain. The main reasons are lack of proper technology and low market value for recycled plastic.

“We are a country that collects a lot of plastic, but we haven’t managed to reinsert the whole plastic volume into the value chain yet (only 1.28%). Countries like Chile (0.35%) and Costa Rica (1.12%), for example, face the same challenge and are below Brazil’s Recycling/Production rate,” said Gabriela Yamaguchi, Communication and Engagement Director of WWF. “So, we advocate for solutions that can drive the creation of value chain for plastic,” she added.

The list published by the WWF shows the United States as the planet’s main polluter. Next are developing economies with high pollution rates – respectively, China, India, Brazil, Indonesia and Russia.

Plastic space in industry and society

WWF lists a series of measures to revert pollution growth. Among the measures, there are: national reduction goals, control and recycling; investment in waste management systems; collaboration between civil society, industries and Government; reduction in production and excessive and unnecessary consumption. The NPO submitted the proposal for voting at the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA-4), in Nairobi, Kenya.

Abiplast supports the agenda. For the entity, discussion and mobilization to solve plastic pollution on a global scale are crucial, and it highlights actions such as expanding basic sanitation and selective collection, conscious consumption, promoting recycling and encouraging product and technology innovation.

“Responsibility of all players, including the production chain, is necessary and extremely welcome. The sector does not leave its role in building an effective circular economy,” said the association’s official statement.

“Plastic is not inherently bad. It is a man-made invention  that has generated significant benefits for society,” recognized WWF, in a statement. “Nearly half of all plastic products littering the world today were created after 2000. This issue is only decades old, and yet over 75 per cent of all plastic ever produced is already waste,” concluded the NPO.

Effective actions against plastic pollution

Abiplast points out that industry and companies involved in the chain are mobilized to seek alternatives and solutions for this problem. Two of the most relevant actions are the creation of the Cooperation Network for Plastic (Rede de Cooperação para o Plástico), which unites all chain connections to develop a circular economy during the production process, and the Industry Forum for Plastics – For a Clean Ocean (Fórum Setorial dos Plásticos – Por um Mar Limpo ), focused on carrying out debates and initiatives to face ocean waste issue.

The entity also highlights treaties entered into by big brands and manufacturers to drive reuse, remanufacturing and recycling alternatives.

“We want plastic to be recycled more often and highly valued. Collecting is not enough, [plastic] needs to reinserted into the circular economy in an exemplary manner,” Gabriela Yamaguchi explained to bluevision. She says that the WWF vision is to avoid all single use materials and value plastic material so that its lifespan is longer in the circular economy.

Content published in May 17, 2019

What Braskem is doing about it?

Braskem has practical actions regarding this process in every post-consumption phase of the plastic. The recycling projects, especially, are centered in the WeCycle platform. In 2016, the first resins of polypropylene and polyethylene were developed, using recycled input. Nowadays, the estimated volume of production is around 50 tons a month. This material is used for several purposes, such as manufacturing bikes. See more about WeCycle: http://www.braskem.com.br/wecycle/

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