End of Life

The concept of "end of life" in plastic waste management refers to the stage at which plastic products or materials have reached the end of their useful life and are no longer in active use. This stage marks the last-resort option for materials that cannot be reused or recycled in the waste management process.

The Problem

By 2050, based on current projections, production and incineration of plastics will account for 10 – 13 per cent of the annual carbon budget (1.5C budget).

In 2022, just over half of the global municipal solid waste was managed in controlled facilities. This is largely a result of constrained city budgets, as waste management can often consume 50% of a city’s total annual spend. While plastic waste represents a significant economic and environmental cost borne by cities and society as a whole, plastic waste is also a largely untapped opportunity.

Inadequate waste collection and recycling infrastructure in many regions make it challenging to efficiently collect and process plastic waste. Lack of awareness and education about recycling practices among the public also leads to improper disposal, mixing of different plastics, and contamination, rendering much of the plastic unsuitable for recycling. 

Additionally, some plastics are difficult to recycle due to their composition or the presence of additives. Economic factors play a role as well, as low demand and market value for certain recycled plastics make recycling economically less attractive.

Potential Solutions

Waste management is a cooperative process that requires multi-stakeholder engagement – the City Government, businesses, NGOs, and individuals in the community all have an important responsibility to ensure environmentally sound waste management.

  • Promote Sustainable Product Design
  • Expand Recycling Infrastructure
  • Educate and Engage the Public
  • Implement Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR)
  • Ban or Restrict Single-Use Plastics
  • Safely Controlled Sanitary Landfills

Case Studies

Controlled Disposal Facility
Ocean Plastic Reinvented
Ocean Plastic
Incineration Tax
Controlled Disposal Facility

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