Plastics

Overview

plastic on a beach Greg Armfield WW275057

Plastic waste is choking our planet – polluting the air, water, and soil both people and wildlife need to survive. And as this crisis spreads to every corner of the globe, WWF is leading the charge to help reimagine how we source, design, dispose of, and reuse the plastic materials communities most depend upon. Because while plastic can help make our hospitals safer, our food last longer, and our packages more efficient to ship, it has no place in nature.

Every day plastic is flowing into our natural environment at an unprecedented rate – a dump truck every minute into our oceans alone. It’s time to turn off the tap. Together. WWF is uniting our global networks of industry leaders, consumers, and policymakers to transform our systems, so the plastics we discard become plastics we use again.

As everyday people continue doing their part to reduce, reuse, and recycle, WWF is engaging policymakers to ensure the plastics leaving recycling bins stay in effective waste management systems, and out of the hands of illegal plastic traffickers.

Through our ReSource:Plastic activation hub, we’re helping some of the world’s leading companies translate ambitious plastic commitments into measurable change – both across their business operations, and well beyond their supply chains. We’re working on the ground with local partners from Indonesia to Peru to keep plastic out of our planet’s most extraordinary ecosystems. And in oceans the world over we’re supporting communities and fishing crews, big and small, to improve gear use and recovery, so issues like abandoned nets no longer pose one of the biggest threats to marine life.

WWF is fighting for a world with no plastic in nature by 2030. It’s a world where our oceans teem with marine life, not discarded nets, bottles and bags. Where no human breathes the toxic fumes of burning plastic. And where every indispensable plastic product is used to make another.

It’s a world where people and nature thrive together. Join us.

This simple bottled water alternative is a no-brainer

Since less than 10% of plastic waste gets recycled in the US, most of those water bottles wind up in dumps, where they won’t break down for hundreds of years. Here's how to reduce your plastic waste.
Reusing bottle

Why It Matters

  • One Planet Perspective

    As we work towards a solution for the plastic waste crisis, we must do it in a way that does not negatively impact other critical issues that are affecting the environment, including the climate, forests and food waste.  For example, when companies substitute paper products for plastics, we must ensure that the paper comes from responsibly managed forests, particularly those certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). Otherwise, we’re just shifting the environmental cost to another part of nature.

  • Wildlife

    WWF’s 2018 Living Planet Report found that global biodiversity declined by 60% between 1974 and 2014. Over 800 species are negatively impacted by plastic waste, but we’re only just starting to understand the effects of plastics on our ecosystems.

  • Communities

    Plastic pollution has far-reaching implications for local communities by posing a public health risk, decreasing fish stock, and contributing to climate change. Communities in developing countries are particularly vulnerable to the effects of plastic pollution. In areas with poor infrastructure, polluted coastlines where plastic accumulates can create a favorable breeding environment for disease-carrying organisms such as insects and rodents. And, plastic production represents up to 8% of global petrol use – on par with the aviation industry – and incinerating plastic waste pollutes our air all while contributing to climate change[1].

  • Fixing the Broken Plastic System

    Only 9% of plastic waste in the US is recycled each year. When plastic ends up in nature, this waste affects the fishery, maritime, and tourism industries, causing an estimated $8 billion in economic losses annually.

    Our current waste management system and recycling infrastructure cannot properly manage the volume of virgin plastic constantly entering the system. When we throw out plastic instead of recapturing and recycling it, we miss an important opportunity to recapture the value of the resources already used for the production of our plastics. There is more than $2 billion worth of plastic material sitting in the United States’ landfills at this very moment.  WWF is advocating for a holistic solution that curbs plastic pollution and its many associated consequences.

What WWF Is Doing

Everyone takes action

Each one of us is part of the solutions needed for a plastic revolution. WWF works to raise awareness about ways we can address plastic waste in our daily lives, through the choices we make about our consumption and habits. Whether it’s skipping some single-use plastic packing or carrying a reusable water bottle, we educate our WWF members and activists about the impact they can make to help end plastic pollution.

collecting plastic WW170012

A Plastics Revolution

WWF’s campaign “No Plastic in Nature” aims to fix a broken system using a holistic approach. There is no single solution to plastic pollution, we need a combination of strategies and engagement from all actors. By engaging all actors – government, businesses, and the public – we can examine every aspect of the life cycle of any given plastic material, and identify key elements that are ripe for intervention. 

While our aim is to eliminate the leakage of plastic into nature by 2030, we have also set a goal for 2021: establishing a global legally-binding agreement to end plastic pollution. Such an agreement would introduce specific targets and pave the way for each nation to devise an action plan for addressing the plastic pollution epidemic. WWF is committed to engaging with the United States government and securing our elected officials’ support on this “Paris for Plastics”.

Engaging the private sector

Companies are uniquely positioned to help drive large-scale transformative change, by improving their own plastic pollution footprint as well as influencing other key stakeholders like governments and consumers to do the same.

Through WWF’s activation hub, ReSource: Plastic, we seek to redesign how businesses source, use and dispose of plastics. To learn more about ReSource: Plastic, please visit resource-plastic.com.

In coordination with several global consumer brand companies, WWF has also established the Bioplastic Feedstock Alliance (BFA), a science-driven organization which aims to evaluate diverse bioplastic feedstocks to better understand the potential sustainability opportunities of each. The BFA helps the bioplastic industry’s emerging supply chain move in a positive direction.

Ghost gear

A major threat to marine biodiversity, abandoned fishing gear, or ghost gear, is estimated to comprise up to 10% of plastic waste in our oceans, by volume. While this may seem like a small number, ghost gear is the most harmful form of plastic pollution to marine species. Ghost gear continues to capture wildlife well after it’s abandoned, pollute habitats, and enters the food web as it degrades. Ghost gear impacts 45% of all marine mammals on the Red List of Threatened Species[1].

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