Back to Blue, an initiative of Economist Impact and The Nippon Foundation, brings together two organisations that are together seeking to improve ocean health. Convinced of the need to improve evidence-based approaches and solutions to address the issues confronting the world’s oceans, the two have launched a new Plastics Management Index (PMI), an initiative designed to draw attention to growing global concerns around the use of plastic and the urgency of adopting a more sustainable approach to plastics management. The first edition of the new index has just been released.
The idea behind the index is the realisation that the sheer scale of the problem of plastic pollution - estimates say that as much as 12 billion tonnes of plastic waste could be in landfills or in the environment by 2050 - and the challenge of finding a meaningful solution demand a new framework. This new framework would cover the entire lifecycle of plastic products—from design to production to consumption to disposal and beyond.
The Plastics Management Index is an attempt to create such a framework. It measures, compares and contrasts the efforts made by a selection of 25 countries at different stages of development in their management of plastics - covering the entire lifecycle of plastic products.
"We have created the Plastics Management Index as a new benchmark for measuring how countries are coping with plastics from cradle to grave--just as the need, and interest, globally builds for managing plastics across their entire lifecycle, rather than with piecemeal approaches such as plastic bag bans,” said Naka Kondo, editor of the PMI report, Policy and Insights at Economist Impact,
The index ranks the 25 participating countries, located across five continents, assessing the capacity of each to minimise plastics mismanagement while promoting the optimal production and use of plastic as a resource. It focusses on three categories - governance, existing systemic capacity, and stakeholder engagement —measured across 12 indicators and 44 individual sub-indicators.
The index ranks Germany as the top performer overall in plastics management, scoring 87 points out of 100. Ranking first for governance and stakeholder engagement and third for systemic capacity, this is largely due to the country's nation-wide Der Grüne Punkt recycling scheme, which underpins Germany’s approach to creating a circular economy. Instead of imposing outright bans on certain plastic products, as some other countries have done, the government instead reached an agreement with industry that has ultimately enabled recycling on a very considerable scale.