Life in Plastic, It’s not Fantastic: The Economics of Plastic Pollution


Since the 1950s, the production of plastic surpassed the production of almost every other material. If the trends in plastic production - and oil consumption - continue at its current rate, estimates are that by 2050 there will be about 12 billion tonnes of plastic litter in the environment and the plastic industry will be responsible for 20% of the world’s total oil consumption. Globally, management of the increasingly large quantity of plastic waste has been challenging, with only 9% of plastic being recycled and almost 80% of plastic being either dumped, disposed in landfills or littered in the environment, resulting in an estimated 4 to 12 million metric tonnes (Mt) of plastic waste in the oceans annually. The improvement of solid waste management systems has not accompanied the rapid growth of plastic production, creating market inefficiencies with serious downstream effects on human health, quality of life and the environment – in particular marine life. Ultimately, there is no “one size-fits-all” solution to the current plastic problem. Governments, businesses and individuals all have a major role to play in paving the way for a circular economy with more sustainable patterns of consumption and a more efficient design of plastic products


plastic, solid waste management, environmental econonmics, asia

How to Cite

Reis, F., Wu, S. & Potyatynnyk, K., (2017) “Life in Plastic, It’s not Fantastic: The Economics of Plastic Pollution”, Science for Sustainability (S4S) Journal 1(1). doi:







Filipa Reis (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam)
Shuangyue Wu (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam)
Khrystyna Potyatynnyk (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam)





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This article has been peer reviewed.

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