Despite the increasing concern about the issue, there is little sign that plastic use is falling. Half of all the plastic ever made was produced in the last 13 years, says investment house Hermes, while output is set to increase by 40% in the next decade.
The plastics problem is a stark illustration of the problems of a global economy that is “overwhelmingly linear”. The linear economy sees goods produced in a “take, make and waste” model that assumes resources are essentially infinite and will always be available to make new products.
The circular economy requires a significant shift in mindset, starting with the design process, which must ensure that goods not only have minimal environmental impact in terms of the use of water, energy and materials, but also that they can easily be repurposed or recycled through a “cradle-to-cradle” approach.
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