April 22, 2022 ushered in the 53rd world earth day. China put forward the activity theme of "cherishing the earth and harmonious coexistence between man and nature", guided the whole society to establish the concept of ecological civilization of "respecting, conforming to and protecting nature", and mobilized the whole society to actively practice a green and low-carbon lifestyle.
Since its birth 100 years ago, plastics have fully entered and supported our production and life. Clothing, food, housing and transportation are inseparable from this precious raw material. However, the linear model of "acquisition manufacturing discarding" turns plastics into waste and eventually leaks into the environment, resulting in global pollution problems that threaten the realization of more than seven United Nations sustainable development goals, and seriously affect the harmonious coexistence between man and nature.
According to the report of global plastics outlook 2022: economic drivers, environmental impacts and policy options issued by the organization for economic cooperation and development (OECD), the annual global plastic production soared from 234 million tons in 2000 to 460 million tons in 2019; Plastic waste also increased from 156 million tons in 2000 to 353 million tons in 2019. Almost two thirds of plastics, including packaging (40%), consumer goods (12%) and textiles (11%), become waste within five years of use and enter the natural environment and become pollutants without any treatment. Even for the 55 million tons of plastic entering the recycling channel, only 9% of the plastic waste is systematically recycled, the other 50% is sent to the landfill, 19% is incinerated, and 22% is burned in the open pit or directly leaked to the environment. As a developing country, China's per capita plastic consumption is far lower than that of developed countries and regions, but it also faces the challenge of plastic pollution. According to the report on the development of China's recycled plastics industry from 2021 to 2022 issued by the recycled plastics branch of China Materials Recycling Association, China produced about 62 million tons of waste plastics in 2021, of which only 19 million tons were recycled, accounting for 31%. Similarly, a large number of plastic products failed to be effectively recycled and eventually became environmental pollutants.
At the just concluded fifth United Nations Environment Conference in March 2022, the participants also made it clear that:
1) According to the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 ℃, by 2050, greenhouse gas emissions related to plastic production, use and disposal will account for 15% of the allowable emissions.
2) About 11 million tons of plastic waste flow into the ocean every year. By 2040, this number may triple. More than 800 marine and coastal species are affected by plastic pollution due to ingestion, entanglement and other risk factors.
3) By 2040, the transition to circular economy will help reduce the amount of plastic discharged into the sea by more than 80%; Reduce the output of primary plastics by 55%; Save $70 billion for the government by 2040; Reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 25%; Create 700000 additional jobs, which will be mainly concentrated in countries in the southern hemisphere.
Representatives of all countries finally discussed and formed a historic resolution on "end plastic pollution – towards an international legally binding instrument", which indicates that the treatment of plastic pollution has become a global consensus, a common responsibility of all countries, and also needs international cooperation and global partnership.
In view of the above background, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) launched the innovative strategic project for plastic pollution control of the global environment facility small grant program at the end of 2021 to solicit systematic solutions to plastic pollution worldwide. After public request for proposals and review and selection at all levels, the "full value chain model to control plastic pollution" project jointly designed by China Environmental Protection Federation and green recycled plastic supply chain joint working group (grpg) became the selected project of GEF China in April 2022. The project will explore and Practice Solutions for upstream, middle and downstream management of plastic pollution together with stakeholders in the plastic value chain, carry out baseline analysis of the whole plastic industry chain, and identify key challenges and problems in the field of plastic pollution control in China; Develop and build demonstration sites of community zero waste management system to form a plastic reduction model at the community level; Carry out policy communication and advocacy on key issues of plastic pollution control, and promote the formulation and implementation of relevant policies; At the same time, work with multiple stakeholders to carry out publicity and advocacy, improve the whole society's awareness of plastic pollution and promote the generation of plastic reduction actions. The output of the project will be used as a reference for relevant policy makers, urban managers, enterprises and citizens at home and abroad, so that stakeholders from all walks of life can deeply understand the current situation of plastic pollution and take effective measures to eliminate pollution and waste of resources from the source. At the same time, the project will also contribute to the proposal of the United Nations Environment Conference to reach a legally binding international agreement on plastic pollution by 2024, and contribute to the programs and suggestions of Chinese people.