On June 21, 2022, the Organization for Economic Development and Cooperation (OECD) hosted the webinar “Green Talks LIVE: Global Plastics Outlook – Policy Scenarios to 2060“. The webinar featured two participants from the OECD’s Environment and Economic Integration Division, who presented key projections and two policy packages to reduce the use and leakage of plastics into the environment and to better understand the environmental benefits and economic impacts of adopting more stringent policies.
On the same day, the OECD also released a report, “Global Plastics Outlook Policy Scenarios to 2060”. This report is the second part of the report “Global Plastics Outlook Economic Drivers, Environmental Impacts and Policy Options”, released in February 2022.
Current status and Key projections (Shardul Agrawala, OECD)
Statistics on plastics in 2019
- Amount produced: 460 Mt
- Amount wasted: 353 Mt
- Amount leakage: 22 Mt
- GHG emissions: 1.8 Gt (3.4% of total)
- Amount accumulated in rivers and oceans: 140 Mt
Most of the leakage is macroplastics (plastics larger than 5mm in diameter, i.e., larger than microplastics)
Key projection figures for 2060 (without ambitious countermeasures: Baseline)
- Amount produced: 1231 Mt
Among OECD member countries, the amount of production will double in countries/regions classified as developed countries. Regarding ways of usage, 2/3 of the materials are used for packaging materials, construction materials, and automobiles.
- Amount wasted: 1014 Mt
- The percentages of processing rates in 2060 are as follows;
- Mismanagement: 15% (decrease 7%, the amount will double)
- Incineration: 19% (decrease 1%)
- Recycle: 17% (increase 8%, the amount will double)
- Landfill: 50% (increase 1%)
- Amount leakage: 44 Mt
- The circularity of the plastics lifecycle will increase by 6% (8% to 14%)
Reductions required to achieve zero plastic pollution in 2060
|Leakage into environment||44 Mt/year|
|Open-pit burning and mismanagement||115 Mt/year|
|Recovery of the accumulated plastics in aquatic environment alone||493 Mt by 2060|
|GHG emissions||4.3 Gt /year|
Two policy packages to reduce plastic use and leakage into the environment (Eliza Lanzi, OECD)
- Regional Action
Need to access the current situation and formulate policies at the national and regional levels and gradually tighten the reduction method.
- Global Action
National and regional cooperative policies need to be formulated and implemented to achieve the ultimate goal of zero leakage.
Both actions need to consider the entire lifecycle of plastics, and three specific approaches following were introduced.
- Curbing plastic demand and creating a circular society
Specific examples given were taxation on the packaging, taxation on non-packaged products, and eco-design.
In particular, concerning taxation on packaging materials, as a regional initiative, it was recommended that a tax of $1,000 per ton be imposed by 2030 in the EU, by 2040 in other OECD member countries, and by 2060 in non-OECD member countries. The international effort was also targeted to impose a tax of $1,000 per ton by 2030 and $2,000 per ton by 2060.
- Enhanced recycling
Specific examples given were strengthening recycling through waste management, adding recycling targets and increasing the recycling rate, and enhancing Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR).
In particular, it was stated that the recycling rate should be targeted at 40% by 2060 for OECD member countries, 20% for non-member countries, and 40% as an international goal.
- Closing pathway of leakage
Specific examples given were improvements in plastic waste collection methods and waste collection methods.
Both actions, if implemented, are expected to have a drastic effect on the plastic pollution problem, and the expected amount of each is shown in the table below.
|Baseline||1231 Mt||1014 Mt||153 Mt||44 Mt|
|Regional action||1018 Mt||837 Mt||59 Mt||20 Mt|
|Global action||827 Mt||679 Mt||6 Mt||6 Mt|
Related document and webpages can be viewed at the following URLs.
- OECD, “Green Talks LIVE: LAUNCH OF THE GLOBAL PLASTICS OUTLOOK: POLICY SCENARIOS TO 2060”
- OECD’s report, “Global Plastics Outlook Policy Scenarios to 2060”