What It Will Take to Slow the Environmental Impact of Waste

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Behind the scenes at Goldman Sachs, thought-provoking insights are bubbling up each day. This space is for a few nuggets we think are worth sharing. From macroeconomics to the genome medicine revolution to the rise of digital gaming, these stories from around 200 West show you how top-level views can impact your life (and maybe even shape the way you think about money).

Only 12% of all plastic waste in the world is recycled. As one of the most widely used materials on this planet, that might seem like a low percentage. But an even more surprising figure might be 0.6% - which is how much the plastic demand growth could slow per year over the next decade. 

That’s in large part due to changing consumer habits, increased recycling and the efforts companies have made to implement plastic alternatives, such as corn and other bio-based plastics. Those alternatives have a lower carbon footprint and can degrade in the natural environment, but can contaminate the entire recycling bin if mixed with plastic bins.

The future of plastic waste is at the heart of this The Long & Short of It video.

“Plastics are extremely durable and versatile,” Goldman Sachs Research’s Nikhil Bhandari said. “Which is why almost every consumer application has some level of plastic intensity today. However, one of plastic’s greatest strengths has become its greatest weakness – it is not degradable. This is what we call the plastics paradox.” 

5 takes on plastics that may surprise you 

Some additional viewpoints from Goldman Sachs Research: 

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