Resources and Environment
This report summarises in-depth reviews in five areas of the circular economy: the sharing economy; e-waste; agricultural waste; urban waste and industrial symbiosis. These reviews allow a deeper analysis than previous approaches based on case studies. The authors identify a range of development interventions that are proven and replicable in a variety of low- and middle-income contexts.
Plastics were first developed in 1907 with the discovery of Bakelite, a synthetic polymer that could be easily massproduced. This invention led to countless innovations and new products as plastics became an essential material of the global economy. In 1989 the world produced about 100 million tonnes (Mt) of plastic every year. By 2015 that number had grown exponentially to 322 Mt (McIlgorm et al., 2020). Since 1907 over 8.3 billion tonnes of virgin plastics have been manufactured. But, as supply and demand continues to grow, global recycling capacity has been unable to keep up. As a result, only 9% of all plastic ever made has been recycled – a small quantity remains in use in society, while the vast majority sits in landfills, has been openly incinerated or now pollutes the land, forests and oceans of our natural environment.