Here's how private investors can turn plastic into gold


Rob Kaplan, World Economic Forum, 14 May 2021


  • A lack of capital is a significant barrier to creating a profitable plastics recycling market in emerging economies.

  • But attractive returns are there for the taking — while tackling plastic pollution at the same time.

  • Here's how financial institutions can accelerate the creation of this marketplace.

One of the greatest impediments to our ability to transition to a circular economy for plastics in emerging markets is a dearth of private investment capital. While investment in the recycling and circular economy space is occurring, particularly in the South and Southeast Asia regions, the flows of capital are neither large enough nor sufficiently consistent to scale solutions.


Meanwhile the plastic pollution crisis persists. Despite progress on several fronts, only 9% of all plastic waste ever generated has been recycled, and the flow of plastics into rivers, oceans and other natural ecosystems is expected to triple by 2040 without drastic action.


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