Plastic pollution is everywhere - in the air we breathe, in ice on the Arctic, in water and in fish that we eat, with huge costs to the environment, biodiversity, livelihoods, and possibly our health.
COVID-19 has exacerbated the problem of marine plastic pollution, with increased demand for single-use plastic and pressure on solid waste systems, accompanied by a drop in recycled materials because of hygiene concerns and low prices of virgin plastics. World Bank projects that were underway long before the pandemic are now even more relevant.
There is no silver bullet and interventions are needed at every stage of the plastic lifecycle, from production through to stopping plastic leakage, to transitioning to a circular economy approach. Solid waste management is a priority, and a circular economy for plastics is the long-term solution.
There is a need for new policies, behavior change by consumers and industry, investments, and innovation in financing, policies, technologies and partnerships between the private and public sectors. Governments alone cannot do it all, and the private sector has a key role in driving the transition to a circular economy. Governments can enact and implement laws that will enable the transition, while the private sector can contribute through increased financing, or innovation in redesign and new materials.
Addressing major bottlenecks and challenges driving plastic pollution should be part of the Blue recovery: the prevention of plastic pollution provides an opportunity for creating a circular economy model to build a more sustainable and inclusive economy and recover from the COVID-19 pandemic with a triple dividend on jobs, climate change and social benefits.
The World Bank Group is uniquely positioned to tackle this issue, with decades of experience in financing pollution prevention projects, providing technical expertise across many sectors, and bringing together key players to tackle the issue and transform plastic pollution challenges into opportunities to achieve green, resilient and inclusive development.
Last Updated: Oct 02, 2023