Policy tool to reduce plastic waste

A new study published in the journal Global environmental change reveals a new policy tool developed by an international team, including scientists from the University of Oxford, that could reduce plastic waste.

The document predicts that the new Plastic Drawdown tool is expected to lead to a reduction of plastic waste in the Maldives by around 85% by 2030.

Experts say other countries should adopt the tool in a bid to lead the fight against plastic waste, the University of Oxford wrote in a press release.

The model gives governments the confidence and evidence base to create policy that could lead to radical reductions in plastic waste.

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The study was co-authored by experts from the University of Oxford, Imperial College London, Eunomia, Nekton, the Government of the Maldives and Common Seas.

A strong framework is essential to see the impact

Lucy Woodall, Associate Professor in the Department of Zoology at Oxford University and lead scientist at Nekton, said: “Seeing the direct impact of research in such a short time is rare.

“With Plastic Drawdown, we have shown that powerful decisions can be made with limited data when a strong framework is in place to share knowledge. I am delighted to have been a small part of this collaboration.

Scientists designed Plastic Drawdown for countries with limited data and used it in partnership with practitioners in the Maldives to explore solutions to minimize plastic pollution.

It is a fast, effective and affordable assessment tool.

This means that it can be used by the most needy countries that have little information on their plastic consumption and waste.

Policy solutions can reduce plastic pollution by 85%

The Plastic Drawdown model has been used in the Maldives, where it has given the government the evidence and confidence to announce and implement an ambitious single-use plastic phase-out strategy.

The analysis demonstrated how five policy solutions could prevent up to 85% of plastic pollution by 2030, but without action plastic pollution would increase by 45%.

This proven approach to developing an evidence-based national response is important in preparing for a UN plastics treaty.

Of the top plastic polluting countries in the world, 35% have no policy to address the problem and 20% only target plastic bags.

Without decisive action from governments, plastic pollution in our oceans is set to quadruple by 2040 and the carbon emissions associated with plastic will mean it will be difficult to keep global warming to 1.5 degrees.

Maldives to phase out single-use plastics by 2023

The UK government is one of more than 120 governments calling for the negotiation of a new global deal to end plastic pollution, with discussions taking place at the fifth session of the UN Environment Assembly (UNEA-5) in February-March 2022.

The Plastic Drawdown partnership was created by international social enterprise Common Seas.

Common Seas is now seeking new partnerships to expand this work to new geographies in 2022 and beyond.

A spokesperson for the President of the Maldives said: “Plastic Drawdown has been key in advocating for the phasing out of single-use plastics in the Maldives.”

“The model has given the Maldivian government the confidence to set an ambitious target to phase out single-use plastics by 2023, as announced by President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih at the United Nations General Assembly in 2019.

“Common Seas provided not only solid evidence of what we could achieve, but also practical guidance on how to get there.”

Need for plastics plans

Common Seas CEO Jo Royle said: “More than half of the world’s most polluting countries don’t have an adequate plan to tackle plastic pollution.

“The Maldives, a beautiful island marred by the curse of plastic waste, is showing ambition and real leadership on this issue.

“In 2022, we’re excited to see the Plastic Drawdown model rolled out globally.”

Read the full article – ‘Plastic Drawdown: a rapid assessment tool to develop national responses to plastic pollution when data availability is limited, as demonstrated in the Maldives‘ – in global environmental change.

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Bryce K. Locke