The Environmental Impact of Climate-related Disclosures and Recycling Microplastics

Alfred Tang

Alfred Tang

Sep 19, 20233 min read

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The Environmental Impact of Climate-related Disclosures and Recycling Microplastics

Introduction:

As the world grapples with the urgent need to address climate change and plastic pollution, two interconnected issues have come to the forefront: climate-related disclosures and the recycling of plastics. In this article, we will explore the environmental impact of both these practices and shed light on the challenges and opportunities they present.

IFRS S2 Climate-related Disclosures:

The issuance of IFRS S2 Climate-related Disclosures has brought attention to the absolute gross greenhouse gas emissions of organizations. These disclosures, in accordance with the Greenhouse Gas Protocol categories, provide insights into the industry-based metrics of CO2 equivalent emissions. By mandating the assessment of climate-related risks and opportunities throughout an entity's value chain, IFRS S2 encourages data collection on greenhouse gas emissions from the parent company, consolidated subsidiaries, investees, associates, joint ventures, and unconsolidated subsidiaries. This comprehensive approach ensures a holistic understanding of an organization's environmental impact.

Microplastic Pollution from Recycling:

While recycling is often touted as a solution to plastic waste, recent research has revealed a concerning issue: the spewing of microplastics during the recycling process. Even when plastic reaches recycling centers, it can break down into smaller bits, resulting in the release of up to 75 billion particles of microplastics per cubic meter of wastewater. This means that a single recycling facility could emit millions of pounds of microplastics annually. Furthermore, the current testing methods for microplastics only detect particles down to 1.6 microns, potentially underestimating the extent of pollution. The presence of airborne microplastics in recycling facilities also poses health risks to workers who may unknowingly inhale them.

The Complexities of Recycling:

Recycling is not a straightforward process of transforming a plastic item into a new one. It involves deconstructing the material and reconstructing it, which can lead to a loss in quality with each cycle. A plastic bottle, for example, can only be recycled a few times before the material degrades to a point where it can no longer be reused. This diminishing return highlights the limitations of recycling as a long-term solution to plastic pollution.

Connecting the Dots:

Both climate-related disclosures and recycling microplastics have a common goal: mitigating environmental harm. While climate-related disclosures aim to address greenhouse gas emissions and climate-related risks, recycling attempts to reduce the accumulation of plastic waste. However, these practices also come with their own challenges and limitations. The interconnectedness lies in the need for comprehensive and sustainable approaches to address these issues effectively.

Actionable Advice:

  • 1. Embrace Circular Economy: Shifting towards a circular economy model, where products are designed for reuse and recycling, can help minimize the environmental impact of both climate-related disclosures and plastic recycling. By prioritizing durability, recyclability, and responsible production, businesses can contribute to a more sustainable future.
  • 2. Invest in Research and Innovation: To overcome the challenges of recycling microplastics, it is crucial to invest in research and innovation. Developing more efficient recycling technologies and exploring alternative materials that are biodegradable or easier to recycle can pave the way for a more effective recycling system.
  • 3. Advocate for Stricter Regulations: Governments and international bodies should play a pivotal role in enforcing stricter regulations on greenhouse gas emissions and plastic waste management. By setting clear targets and providing incentives for sustainable practices, regulatory actions can drive organizations to adopt more responsible approaches.

Conclusion:

As organizations strive to meet the demands of climate-related disclosures and tackle the issue of plastic pollution through recycling, it is essential to recognize the complexities and limitations associated with these practices. By embracing circular economy principles, investing in research and innovation, and advocating for stricter regulations, we can work towards a more sustainable future where environmental impact is minimized, and resources are utilized responsibly.

Resource:

  1. "ISSB-2023-A – Issued IFRS Standards - issb-2023-a-ifrs-s2-climate-related-disclosures.pdf", https://www.ifrs.org/content/dam/ifrs/publications/pdf-standards-issb/english/2023/issued/part-a/issb-2023-a-ifrs-s2-climate-related-disclosures.pdf (Glasp)
  2. "Yet Another Problem With Recycling: It Spews Microplastics", https://www.wired.com/story/yet-another-problem-with-recycling-it-spews-microplastics/ (Glasp)

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