The outrageous demand for the ownership of products in recent years has pressured the manufacturers to produce excessive amounts of goods. Most of the daily used items are made from plastics due to their ease of processing and durability. Most of the products consumed are packaged in plastics, especially single-use plastics. The lack of responsible disposal and recycling has resulted in a devastating impact on the environment. In 2019, the global plastics market valued at approximately $568 billion will increase at 3.5% per year by 2027. According to a study in 2015, the consumption of plastics by an individual has risen so high with an estimated range of 9 to 108 kg per capita per annum globally, with a strong upward surge in plastics consumption. Most of the plastics contain polyolefin (PO) as the biggest share along with low-density polyethylene (LDPE), high-density polyethylene (HDPE), polypropylene (PP), polyethylene terephthalate (PET), and a minor share of polyvinylchloride (PVC), polystyrene (PS), and polyamide (PA), etc. These synthetic polymers are derived from a finite source of fossil fuels. Every stage of the life cycle of plastics, from resource extraction, production, distribution, to consumption and end of use, according to the report ”Plastic & Health: The Hidden Costs of a Plastic Planet”, poses an overwhelmingly negative impact on the environment and human health.
The consequences of irresponsible and over-consumption of plastics on human health, ocean life, and the planet’s sustenance have alarmed both public and private sectors to take collective action to protect the environment and sustain human life. An increasing number of countries worldwide have introduced regulations and action plans to tackle plastic waste by banning single-use plastics, improving waste management systems, increasing recycling rates, etc. However, consumers play a significant role in the plastics value chain by reducing, refusing, and reusing plastic goods to enable circularity. We believe that holistic engagement of all key stakeholders in the plastics value chain including policy makers, investors, manufacturers, innovators, consumers, and recyclers with an integrated overarching approach, is extremely critical to reverse the damage done to the planet and explore avenues of sustainable sourcing, production, and consumption. Knowledge is power. Life cycle thinking is essential in understanding the entire process of plastic production, consumption, and end of use. We propose a course titled “Plastics Circularity: Challenges and Opportunities” to address the technical challenges and offer opportunities to minimize environmental impact and maximize product value to achieve true plastics circularity. The currently available educational modules in the plastics sector lack the intricacies of the plastics value chain in an integrated manner and omit the life-cycle approach to assess potential hazards of producing alternate plastic materials (e.g., bioplastics).