Since the 1950s, the production of plastic has outpaced that of almost every other material. Much of the plastic we produce is designed to be thrown away after being used only once. As a result, plastic packaging accounts for about half of the plastic waste in the world. Most of this waste is generated in Asia, while America, Japan and the European Union are the world’s largest producers of plastic packaging waste per capita. The most common single-use plastics found in the environment are, in order of magnitude, cigarette butts, plastic drinking bottles, plastic bottle caps, food wrappers, plastic grocery bags, plastic lids, straws and stirrers, other types of plastic bags, and foam take-away containers. These are the waste products of a throwaway culture that treats plastic as a disposable material rather than a valuable resource to be harnessed.

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Experts

Brenda Koekkoek

Brenda Koekkoek is a Programme Manager of the Circle of Excellence on Plastic Pollution at the UN Environment Programme.

Carolyn Deere Birkbeck

Carolyn Deere Birkbeck is a Senior Researcher at the Graduate Institute’s Global Governance Centre and Director of the Forum on Trade, Environment & the SDGs (TESS).

David Azoulay

David Azoulay is the Managing Attorney of the Center for International Environmental Law’s (CIEL) Geneva Office and the Director of CIEL’s Environmental Health Program.

Delphine Garin

Delphine Garin is the manager of Plastics & Packaging at the World Business Council for Sustainable Development.

Kristin Hughes

Kristin Hughes is the Director of the Global Plastic Action Partnership and a member of the Executive Committee of the World Economic Forum.

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