Currently, plastic is one of the most used materials worldwide due to its low production cost and diversity of applications; However, contamination by this compound has been an issue that has generated alarm among scientists and conservationists, who have drawn attention to the negative impacts that its use has on ecosystems, society and the economy.
In this context, a study published this Monday by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF, for its acronym in English) has estimated that the life cycle of the plastic produced during 2019 has cost society about $ 3.7 trillion, figure superior to the gross domestic product (GDP) of nations such as France, UK or India.
Although it costs little more than a ton of plastic to produce $ 1,000, this price does not include the real cost of the material during its lifetime. First, the report notes, the cost of greenhouse gases emitted during their manufacture amounts to about $ 171 billion, while that of the management of plastic waste, which includes its separation, collection, disposal and recycling, is close to 38 billion.
What’s the real cost of plastic? Plastic remains in our environment for hundreds, perhaps thousands of years, damaging our society, environment and economy. We can’t keep paying the price of inaction, read on 👇 #StopPlasticPollution#PlasticsTreatypic.twitter.com/tBY6P7YWXy
— WWF (@WWF) September 6, 2021
However, the greatest economic impact is that generated by environmental degradation, mainly in marine ecosystems, produced by plastic. As it disintegrates, it breaks down into smaller particles that contaminate the environment, and are then transferred along the food chain, until they are finally consumed by humans.
This situation, experts warn, has a great impact on marine ecosystem services, so the detriment of the benefits that these ecosystems bring to society and that improve health, the economy and the quality of life, has a social cost estimated of 3.1 trillion of dollars.
“This is the first time that we have seen such a clear assessment of some of the unaccounted for costs that plastic pollution imposes on society, and they are too high a burden to bear, both for people and the environment.” he pointed Marco Lambertini, Director General of WWF International.
The report notes that the results presented could only be “the tip of the iceberg”, since “known and potential impacts on human health, as well as impacts on terrestrial ecosystems, have not been quantified or are still difficult to quantify” . ´
If no measures are taken to reduce pollution from plastic products, the social cost by 2040 could amount to 7.1 trillion dollars, a figure higher than the GDP of China, the second largest economy in the world behind the United States.
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