Integrated and consolidated review of plastic waste management and bio-based biodegradable plastics: Challenges and opportunities

Zvanaka S. Mazhandu, Edison Muzenda, Tirivaviri A. Mamvura, Mohamed Belaid, Trust Nhubu

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)

Abstract

Cumulative plastic production worldwide skyrocketed from about 2 million tonnes in 1950 to 8.3 billion tonnes in 2015, with 6.3 billion tonnes (76%) ending up as waste. Of that waste, 79% is either in landfills or the environment. The purpose of the review is to establish the current global status quo in the plastics industry and assess the sustainability of some bio-based biodegradable plastics. This integrative and consolidated review thus builds on previous studies that have focused either on one or a few of the aspects considered in this paper. Three broad items to strongly consider are: Biodegradable plastics and other alternatives are not always environmentally superior to fossil-based plastics; less investment has been made in plastic waste management than in plastics production; and there is no single solution to plastic waste management. Some strategies to push for include: Increasing recycling rates, reclaiming plastic waste from the environment, and bans or using alternatives, which can lessen the negative impacts of fossil-based plastics. However, each one has its own challenges, and country-specific scientific evidence is necessary to justify any suggested solutions. In conclusion, governments from all countries and stakeholders should work to strengthen waste management infrastructure in low-and middle-income countries while extended producer responsibility (EPR) and deposit refund schemes (DPRs) are important add-ons to consider in plastic waste management, as they have been found to be effective in Australia, France, Germany, and Ecuador.

Original languageEnglish
Article number8360
Pages (from-to)1-57
Number of pages57
JournalSustainability (Switzerland)
Volume12
Issue number20
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law

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