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Turning off the Tap: How the world can end plastic pollution and create a circular economy

Year of Publication


This report examines the economic and business models needed to address the impacts of the plastics economy.


United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)


Llorenç Milà i Canals, Alison Cairns, Peggy Lefort, Allan Meso, Andrew David Raine, Aphrodite Smagadi, Steven Stone, Elisa Tonda, Yoni Shiran, José de la Fuente, Julia Koskella, Anne Titia Bove, Eline Boon, Steve Fletcher, Antaya March, Keiron Roberts, Andrea Bassi





Purpose of Measurement:

Solution Sets and Impact Potential

Impact theme(s):

Policy, Capital Flows, Material Flows

The report proposes a systems change to address the causes of plastic pollution, combining reducing problematic and unnecessary plastic use with a market transformation towards circularity in plastics. This can be achieved by accelerating three key shifts – reuse, recycle, and reorient and diversify – and actions to deal with the legacy of plastic pollution. Reuse refers to the transformation of the ‘throwaway economy’ to a ‘reuse society’ where reusing plastic products makes more economic sense than throwing them away. The report highlights the importance of accelerating the recycling market for plastic recycling by ensuring that recycling becomes a more profitable venture. Reorient and diversify refers to shifting the market towards sustainable plastic alternatives, which will require a shift in consumer demand, regulatory frameworks and costs. The report highlights that these solutions are available now and that a systems change, underpinned by the necessary regulatory instruments, will result in a range of economic benefits and reduce damage to human health, the environment and the climate.

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