Issue Brief

Economic Case for a Circular Economy



NCEL Point of Contact

Julia Meltzer
Zero Waste Coordinator



Only 9% of all plastic waste ever made has been recycled. So where does the rest of the plastic go? A vast majority of plastic pollution accumulates in landfills, where it then makes its way into the environment and, eventually, into the oceans. Plastics can withstand extreme and harsh conditions and can take hundreds of years to decompose in landfills and the environment. It is in the water we drink – even the air we breathe – and has major implications for human health. However, plastic pollution doesn’t just affect the environment and human health, it is also a huge economic burden. This one-pager outlines the economic costs of plastics and the benefits of reusables.


NCEL Resources

Online Resources

The benefits of a circular economy - World Economic Forum

A report by the World Economic Forum regarding the varied benefits of moving towards a circular economy.

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State of Curbside Recycling in 2020

A report covering the robust employment opportunities offered with increased recycling.

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The True Costs of Single-Use Plastic Bags - Sierra Club

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