Understanding Plastic: The Solution
Updated: Mar 1
The final blog for our Understanding Plastic series takes what we have learnt - the basics, the benefits, and the bad - to provide suggestions for solutions and change.
PART 4 of 4: THE SOLUTION.
After reading this series you may be feeling like you have a complicated relationship with plastic. That's okay - so do we! It can be fantastic for applications in the medical and technology sectors, but it's associated waste and pollution can have a huge impact on the environment. So what's the solution?
Plastic waste and pollution does not have merely one solution. It requires collaboration between manufacturers and producers, governments, as well as action from an individual and local level.
Manufacturers + Producers:
Further research into the latter end of plastic lifecycles has the potential to increase the success of their disposal. With manufacturing industries mainly focusing on the application of the product, recovery can be overlooked, resulting in issues during the disposal process. Determining ways to improve how a polymer is created would assist in recognizing how that material will behave after it’s lifecycle, how it will degrade, and how it will decompose.
Shifting a focus towards products that have a longer life in general would also benefit consumers. Though potentially higher in price, items that last longer are an investment for consumers, and improve the reliability of producers.
There is a need for an increase in regulation from governing bodies on a municipal, provincial and national level. The lack of consistent regulation amongst locations makes it increasingly difficult for community members to learn a waste program and achieve success. Regulations and standardization could assist in decreasing the amount of inconsistency amongst practices. Other regulations could prove useful if they required manufacturers to be responsible for the items they create.
Government involvement can also assist with negating issues that arise with plastic recycling. Increasing regulations with stricter standards for manufacturing could create consistency amongst the industry, amongst practices, and amongst varying locations nationally. Regulations in this aspect could serve to hold manufacturers accountable for the products and materials they produce; thus, these companies would then be responsible for the disposal of what they are creating.
At all levels, the government needs to provide it's citizens with waste services that are reliable, accessible, and convenient for people to use. It is also key that governments and regulatory bodies provide sufficient education for it's residents. Public outreach and education can assist in reducing the impact on the environment, improve contamination at the source, and reduce the necessity for plastic-based materials in day-to-day life.
As consumers, we have the power to dictate what kinds of products are being designed, created, and manufactured. If an item doesn’t sell, it won’t be made. It is our duty to be mindful when purchasing goods, considering where the product came from, the energy that went into creating it, and how it will be disposed. Here are a few small changes you can try that will have a large impact:
Avoid single-use items and invest in reusables
Use what you already own, source second-hand, or buy local
Pick up litter
Most importantly, support local initiatives that are addressing the issues and advocating for change. Collaboration is they key for progress, and supporting grassroots movements happening in your community can go a long way!
We hope you now feel as though you have a better understanding of plastic as a whole, or that you at least learned something new! Be sure to share with your friends, family, and network to spread the word!
Read our other blogs and online resources to learn more ways you can adapt to reduce plastic in your daily life and be mindful of your consumption. We encourage you to connect with us if you have any questions. At Green Okanagan we are always happy to chat with and educate our community.