Plastics and petrochemical polymers have done more to improve the health and wellbeing of the world’s citizens and advance our quality of life, than arguably anything else in human history. But those advancements have come at a great price. Almost every single pound of plastic ever manufactured since the end of WWII still exists today, sitting in some unfortunate location, living out the next millennia as trash that is slowly making its way into our food system and wreaking unspeakable damage on the flora and fauna of our planet.
Think about that. The very plastic once heralded for its advancement of humankind is now an existential threat to our species’ survival. We must dedicate our efforts to correcting this. The companies and industries who helped create this boom must lead the way in resolving it.
We should impose a national hard limit on the amount of plastic goods imported into the country, or produced domestically, to an annual volume commensurate with our recycling and waste elimination capabilities. This can be accomplished by a myriad of tools already available to us, including tax disincentives.
Continuing to produce tons and tons of consumer goods that will be simply discarded and lie in a landfill for millennia represents the downside to unfettered capitalism. The world can do with less toys, containers, and bottles. It is time we put the free market to work, through coercion if we must, to solve the problem we allowed it to create.