PLASTIC CREDITS: HOW IT WORKS AND WHO IT IMPACTS.
An effective way to deal with the plastic crisis.
Plastic credit is supposedly the game-changer in the field of waste management. But, what exactly is plastic credit? How does it work? And who does it affect? We’ll deal with all of the questions here, as we go.
According to WWF, plastic credit is a “transferable unit representing a specific quantity of plastic that has been collected and possibly recycled from the environment."
To put it in layman’s terms, plastic credits are a way to incentivize the removal of plastic that’s in the environment and recycle it for packaging and other materials.
There are two main components to the plastic credit system, the companies that use plastic in their products and packaging, and the other is a program that collects plastic and recycles them. After collecting the plastic, it is either utilized to construct bricks and roads or co-processed through pyrolysis, a method of using low-value polymers as an energy source in sectors that traditionally burn coal to satisfy their high energy demands (e.g. cement kilns). Low-value plastics are ejected from the process and burned neatly. This is the most suitable choice.
The following is how these two parties collaborate. A company wants to take responsibility for the plastic it releases into the environment by removing a comparable quantity of plastic. Plastic credits are the best option for this.
HOW PLASTIC CREDIT WORKS
The first step in this process includes a company estimating its plastic footprint i.e, the amount of plastic they release into the world each year. After the calculation, the company purchases the equivalent amount of plastic credits to match their plastic footprint. Basically, for every dollar a polluter contributes, a particular amount of plastic garbage is intercepted from the environment.
The money spent on plastic credits by the company is allocated to a program. In exchange for receiving this funding, the program must collect and/or recycle a volume of plastic equal to the company's plastic footprint in tonnes.
WHO PLASTIC CREDIT IMPACTS
Benefits are produced for both parties due to the transaction between a company and a program. The company may now claim that they are responsible for the plastic they release into the environment, i.e. Company X has become Plastic Neutral. The program was able to get money for the initiative to enable the collecting and recycling of plastic in a sustainable manner, which would not have been possible otherwise.
Who else does this initiative affect?
Developed countries have been exporting their plastic waste to poorer countries for almost 25 years now. After China, which used to import two-thirds of the world's plastic garbage, prohibited all new imports at the end of 2017, additional waste was redirected to nations with far more informal waste management systems, such as India, Thailand, and Malaysia.
Thus, it’s not just a matter of waste management anymore, it directly affects the life of people in these countries. 50 million undocumented workers around the world spend their whole lives coping with the effects of our wasteful consumerism, all without being
recognized as environmental heroes or having access to basic healthcare or education, trapping them in a cycle of abysmal poverty. In India, a garbage picker works an average of 12 hours per day scouring dumpsters and landfills for recyclable rubbish, earning less than $5 from an exploitative supply chain.
Informal waste workers should be actively engaged and officially empowered with plastic credit. It guarantees respectable jobs (reducing social stigma), fair salaries and benefits, and safe working conditions by moving scavengers into the official economy (regulated facilities with safety equipment as opposed to manually scavenging in landfills). In order to break the cycle of poverty, they also get savings accounts, health insurance, and education subsidies for the workers' children.
Plastic pollution's harmful impacts now extend beyond the environment to the people who bear the brunt of the world's rubbish. As a result, plastic credit schemes must have a societal impact in order to mitigate the dangers of plastic pollution successfully.
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