Plastics: the cost to society, environment and the economy

  • 06/09/2021
  • WWF

The lifetime cost to society, the environment and the economy of plastic produced in 2019 alone has been revealed at US$3.7 trillion, more than the GDP of India according to a new report by Dalberg commissioned by WWF. Unless action is taken, these costs are set to double for the plastics produced in 2040 at US$7.1 trillion, equivalent to 85% of global spending on health in 2018 and greater than the GDP of Germany, Canada, and Australia in 2019 combined. The report demonstrates that governments and citizens are unknowingly subsidizing a plastic system that is imposing countless negative impacts on people and the environment. The report “Plastics: The cost to society, environment and the economy” highlights how fragmented regulatory approaches, misplaced incentives as well as lack of coordinated technical resources, financial support and consistent data on plastic leakage are currently costing us the Earth. Failure to understand and remediate the real costs of plastic will cost even more in the future, as under a business as usual scenario it is estimated that by 2040 there will be a doubling of plastic production and a tripling of plastic pollution entering the ocean to 29 million tonnes, increasing the total stock of plastic in the ocean to 600 million tonnes. Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from the plastic lifecycle will account for up to 20% of the entire global carbon budget, accelerating the climate crisis.