Why we need a circular economy: Nature’s triumph over plastic
June 5, 2023
In Montenegro, less than 2% of the total municipal waste is recycled annually. Shockingly, as per the Statistical Office of Montenegro, this recycling rate remains stagnant or even lower compared to previous years. Our reliance on single-use plastic persists in our daily lives, resulting in a vast amount of packaging waste being carelessly discarded or mismanaged. Regrettably, plastic often finds its way into our rivers and the sea. The Mediterranean Sea, to which our Adriatic Sea is connected, suffers from an annual pollution of 570,000 tons of plastic waste. To put that into perspective, it’s equivalent to the weight of 50 Eiffel Towers!
Circular economy as a solution
How can we combat the mounting threat of plastic waste and protect our planet? The circular economy model stands in stark contrast to the prevailing linear economy, which follows the “take, make, waste” production concept. Instead, the circular economy aims to extend the lifespan of products while maintaining the quality of products and services. Not only does this model offer environmental benefits, but it also proves to be equally profitable. The circular economy model is built on three key pillars:
1. production without waste and minimal pollution;
2. extension of product lifespan;
3. reduction or minimization of damage to nature.
Last year, with the support of UNDP, Montenegro received the Roadmap towards the circular economy and the National strategy for circular transition until 2030. Both documents provide a set of recommendations whose implementation brings about significant changes, both in the economy and in the state of the environment. For instance, by eliminating problematic and unnecessary plastic items from use and designing plastic products for reuse or recycling, we can make a substantial impact. This approach ensures that plastic does not end up as waste or pollution.
Currently, Montenegro’s packaging management system relies heavily on single-use plastics and improper disposal of waste packaging. However, we can transform this system by adopting sustainable materials and facilitating packaging reuse, along with implementing programs that enable the return of packaging. These measures would help reduce waste volume and mitigate the adverse effects resulting from insufficient recycling infrastructure. Education plays a vital role in implementing these programs, as it involves changing the behaviors of consumers and producers and fostering acceptance of new models and solutions.
On this World Environment Day, we urge the citizens of Montenegro to play a vital role in the transition towards a circular economy. Each one of us holds the power to make a significant impact by actively reducing and ultimately eliminating the generation of plastic waste and its harmful presence in our surroundings.
Let’s make conscious choices such as opting for glass water bottles, discarding plastic straws, enjoying coffee in cardboard cups, and consuming food from biodegradable plastic containers. We can also make a positive change by replacing plastic bags with paper alternatives, or even better, durable textile bags that can serve us for a long time!
The power to make a difference lies in our choices and actions! Together, we have the ability to triumph over plastic pollution and safeguard the planet for generations to come.