MAGAZINE  №1 (102) - 2021



FEDOROVA T.V. - environmental projects specialist, «EcoTechnologies» (Moscow, Russia)

CATEGORY Green Logistics& Supply Chain Inventory management Return flows management (reverse logistics)


Over the past 70 years, the production of plastics worldwide has increased 215 times – from 1.5 million tons in 1950 to 322 million tons in 2015 [Darrin Qualman, 2017], and already in 2017, production volumes exceeded 400 million tons [UN Environment, 2018]. Plastics are produced from by-products of the oil and gas industry, primarily from associated petroleum gas. According to Plastics Europe – the European Association of Plastic Producers, between 4 and 6% of the oil produced is used for plastic production [Plastics Europe, 2017]. According to experts, this figure may reach 20% by 2050, due to the growing demand for plastic products, which increases the need for their production. Although renewable, the Earth's oil and gas reserves are limited, and they cannot be used forever to make new polymer products.

According to the report of the multinational company "BP" [BP, 2018], the world's oil reserves will last for 50.2 years, gas-for 52.8 years. In Russia, as one of the largest countries producing hydrocarbon raw materials, oil and gas reserves with existing exploration technologies will last for 25.8 and 55 years, respectively. At the same time, many products can be produced completely or partially without the use of polymers. In addition, plastic waste can be used as a secondary raw material, so that the demand for oil and gas processing products can be reduced.

Plastic waste produced by businesses and the public is a global problem [UN Environment, 2018] that threatens the health of people and the entire ecosystem of the Earth. At the same time, plastics take a very long time to decompose in the environment. For different types of plastic, these terms are in the range from 100 to 500 years. Plastic breaks down into small particles – microplastics that cannot be completely recycled by the ecosystem, such as paper or wood. This microplastic penetrates into the soil, as well as into water bodies and thus ends up in the stomachs of animals and fish. The United Nations estimates that every year 1 million seabirds, 100,000 marine mammals and turtles, as well as countless fish die from microplastics entering their bodies [Sustainable Development United Nations, 2017].

Damage to the ecosystem can be avoided if non-degradable waste is not allowed to enter the environment. To do this, the production cycle must be closed. Thus, many companies around the world began to move from linear supply chains to closed ones, in which return flow management or reverse logistics appeared. Therefore, the task of organizing work with plastic waste is quite relevant in scientific and practical terms.

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