By Chelsea M Rochman and Mark Anthony Browne
- Published on February 14, 2013 by Nature International Weekly Science Journal
'Nature', an international weekly journal of science, has published an article discussing the argument that policies for managing plastic waste are outdated and threaten the health of people and wildlife. Mark Anthony Browne and Chelsea M Rochman highlight the chemically harmful contexts of plastic disposal and waste management. Rochman and colleagues argue that plastic debris needs to be classified as 'hazardous', not 'solid waste' alongside food scraps or grass clippings:
“We believe that if countries classified the most harmful plastics as hazardous, their environmental agencies would have the power to restore affected habitats and prevent more dangerous debris from accumulating”
In 2012, 280 million tonnes of plastic were produced globally, less than half of which was consigned to landfill or recycled, and if current rates of consumption continue the planet will hold another 33 billion tonnes of plastic by 2050. “This could be reduced to just 4 billion tonnes if the most problematic plastics are classified as hazardous immediately and replaced with safer, reusable materials in the next decade,” the authors conclude.