Updated: Oct 28, 2018
By Joel Makower, Chairman & Executive Editor
Part Two of a two-part series. Part One can be found here.
The past year has seen a significant uptick in concern by activists, companies and others about the impacts of plastic pollution on people and the environment. With that concern has come an impressive spate of commitments to reduce, if not eliminate, plastic waste.
Altogether, they are necessary but insufficient.
What will it take to truly address the challenge? Despite what many activists — and probably most of the public — think, it’s not simply a matter of declaring plastics verboten and moving on to something else. Plastics are too interwoven into our world, and offer too many societal benefits, including many that fall within the sustainability realm: reducing food waste and spoilage; improving health care services; reducing infant mortality; cutting energy use and others.
And there’s disagreement even among environmentalists whether the focus should be on eliminating plastic waste or plastics altogether. One of those goals is achievable, albeit over a decade or two. The other, not so much.