Societal cost of plastic totals $3.7tr

The lifetime cost to society, the environment and the economy of plastic produced in 2019 alone has been revealed at $3.7tr more than the GDP of India according to a new report by Dalberg commissioned by WWF.

These costs are set to double for the plastics produced in 2040 to $7.1tr unless drastic action is taken, the report Plastics: The cost to society, environment and the economy concludes. Current fragmented regulatory approaches, misplaced incentives and a lack of coordinated technical resources, financial support and consistent data on plastic leakage are currently conspiring to allow the costs to mount. Failure to understand and remediate the real costs of plastic will cost even more in the future, as under a business-as-usual scenario it is estimated that by 2040 there will be a doubling of plastic production and a tripling of plastic pollution entering the ocean to 29 million tonnes, increasing the total stock of plastic in the ocean to 600 million tonnes. Greenhouse gas emissions from the plastic lifecycle will account for up to 20 per cent of the entire global carbon budget, accelerating the climate crisis.

To address this crisis on a systemic level and reduce the cost that plastic imposes on society, WWF is calling on governments to start the negotiation of a legally binding global treaty on marine plastic pollution at the fifth session of the UN Environment Assembly in February 2022.

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