How Plastics Waste Recycling Could Transform the Chemical Industry
If plastics demand follows its current trajectory, global plastics-waste volumes would grow from 260 million tons per year in 2016 to 460 million tons per year by 2030, taking what is already a serious environmental problem to a whole new level. In the face of public outcry about global plastics pollution, the chemical industry is starting to mobilize on this issue. Our recent article “No time to waste” showed how industry leadership is moving beyond the use-once-and-discard approach—under which the plastics industry has grown up—and embracing an expanded definition of product stewardship that includes dealing with plastics waste. As we underlined in that article, this is not only what society demands, and is becoming a condition for the industry to retain its licence to operate, but could also represent an important and profitable new business opportunity.
That last insight is built on our comprehensive assessment of where future global waste flows will come from, how they could be recycled, and what economic returns this activity could offer—research that has filled a major gap in the public debate. In this article, we outline a scenario for the plastics industry through which 50 percent of plastics worldwide could be reused or recycled by 2030—a fourfold increase over what is achieved today—and that also has the potential to create substantial value.
Learn more about McKinsey and Company's ideas on modelling a virtuous — and potentially profitable — cycle of plastic recycling worldwide read the full article HERE.