The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) has launched an Open Innovation Challenge that seeks to find the most innovative solutions that substantially reduce or eliminate single-use plastic and plastic waste in Latin America and the Caribbean.
“Plastics have changed industries across the globe from medicine to food and are ubiquitous in our daily lives. However, plastics have had immense adverse impacts on human and environmental health,” the IDB said in a statement.
It said that the production of plastics from fossil fuels is the second largest and fastest growing contributor to industrial greenhouse gas emissions, the primary driver of climate change.
“Worldwide, one million single-use plastic bottles are purchased every minute and five trillion single-use plastic bags are used each year, and only a small fraction are recovered. With the majority ending up in our environment, plastic waste leaches toxic chemicals in fresh water supplies, soil, and marine ecosystems.”
The IDB said that the Latin American and the Caribbean region produces more than 400 million tons of plastic waste every year and 36 per cent of it is single-use plastic.
“This is creating economic, environmental and health problems for generations to come. How consumers, businesses, and governments reduce or eliminate single-use plastic and plastic waste is a critical development issue,” it said.
The Washington-based financial institution said that a number of countries in the region have instituted retail bans and taxes on plastic bags that have led to reductions in usage.