Solutions to Plastic Pollution: Why It Matters and 8 Best Ways to Reduce Plastic Waste


The term “plastic waste reduction” is ubiquitous today, often mentioned in the context of environmental action. However, not everyone grasps how to reduce plastic waste or its significance. According to 2023 data from the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP), while 88% of companies acknowledge the importance of plastic waste reduction, a third have yet to set specific goals. If plastic production and usage rates persist, single-use plastics could contribute significantly to global greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, hindering net zero carbon goals.

At KDAN, we are committed to corporate sustainability, offering digital solutions to reduce environmental impact. In this article, we will introduce both the trends and 8 practical actions for businesses to make a real difference.

8 Best Everyday Actions to Reduce Plastic Waste

Plastic. It’s everywhere – from our morning coffee to the packaging of our groceries. But the tide is turning, and consumers are increasingly looking for ways to ditch disposables and embrace a more sustainable lifestyle. Here are 8 easy actions you can incorporate into your daily routine to make a real dent in your plastic footprint:

Source: KDAN

1. Replace Disposable Papers and Plastic with Digital Tools

For those of us who frequently use paper in our daily office work or at school, the covers and packaging of notebooks and loose-leaf paper are sources of plastic waste. We all know plastic is bad for the environment, but traditional paper isn’t exactly an environmental saint either.  Landfills overflow with discarded notebooks and printer paper, releasing methane when incinerated. That’s why the smart move is a two-pronged approach.

First, opt for reusables. Sturdy notebooks and folders can handle years of wear and tear, eliminating the need for constant replacements and their plastic packaging.

Second, embrace the digital revolution. Tools like KDAN Office and KDAN PDF Reader let you take notes electronically, ditching paper notebooks altogether. Plus, eSignature platforms eliminate the need for printed contracts, streamlining workflows while saving trees – and plastic. It’s a win-win!

2. Embrace the Eco-Shopper Lifestyle

Every trip to the grocery store throws plastic our way – flimsy produce packaging, and mountains of single-use bags at checkout. It’s a cycle that fuels plastic pollution and weighs heavily on the environment. These plastic shopping bags are often discarded after a single use, increasing plastic waste and causing severe pollution to the environment.

However, with just a few simple swaps of habits in our daily lives, we can easily reduce plastic use:

  • Prepare your own shopping bags:  Invest in reusable bags! Cotton totes, and mesh produce bags – these handy heroes will become your shopping companions, eliminating the need for flimsy plastic ones. 
  • Think Local, Shop Local: Opt for locally sourced produce whenever possible. Not only are you supporting your community and getting fresher ingredients, but you’re also minimizing the plastic packaging often used for long-distance transport.
  • Beyond Hygiene: Don’t let concerns about unpackaged produce hold you back.  While hygiene is important, consider the bigger picture. The environmental impact of plastic packaging used to grow and transport food can be significant. A quick rinse at home is a small price to pay for a healthier planet.

These simple swaps might seem small, but collectively, they have a massive impact.

3. Carry a Reusable Water Bottle On-The-Go

According to research in the UK, despite being one of the birthplaces of coffee culture, approximately 2.5 billion coffee cups are used annually, with over 99% of takeaway cups ending up unrecycled. At first glance, paper cups may seem environmentally friendly compared to single-use plastic items. However, paper cups are usually coated with a layer of polyethylene plastic to contain hot liquids.

Polyethylene plastic makes recycling and reuse challenging due to the low purity of these composite materials. Specialized equipment is required to separate this layer of plastic, and many of these paper cups may end up discarded, contributing to landfill waste or ocean plastic pollution. Therefore, by carrying a reusable water bottle with us daily, we can reduce the consumption of disposable cups, thereby mitigating the negative environmental impact of disposable cup disposal.

4. Reduce the Use of Disposable Utensils and Plastic Straws

At the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA) meeting in 2019, 170 participating countries committed to significantly reducing the use of single-use plastic products by 2030. This data and national policies emphasize the importance of reducing the use of disposable utensils and plastic straws.

We can opt for reusable and washable utensils and straws, such as those made from sugarcane, which not only reduce plastic consumption but also minimize waste generation, thus positively impacting the environment.

5. Choose Environmentally-Friendly Online Shopping Platforms

The online shopping boom isn’t slowing down, but thankfully, many e-commerce platforms are recognizing the environmental impact. They’re taking steps to slash plastic packaging and shrink their carbon footprint.

Among them, the major e-commerce platform Amazon has introduced the Frustration-Free Packaging (FFP) program, aiming to ensure that product packaging is 100% recyclable, easy to open, and uses the least amount of packaging materials possible. Such strategies not only help reduce the generation of plastic waste but also minimize carbon emissions during transportation.

We can choose to support these environmentally-conscious platforms when we shop online. Supporting eco-conscious platforms empowers you to shop guilt-free and contribute to a more sustainable future. It’s a small change with a big impact!

6. Dine-In or Bring Your Own Containers

Building on the previous point, for many individuals who frequently eat out, using their own food bags or eco-friendly food containers for takeout is indeed an effective way to reduce plastic usage.

However, this approach also brings some inconvenience as it requires carrying these containers at all times, and cleaning them adds another chore. So for most people, this method may not be practical, and they may tend to opt for disposable containers instead. However, these containers are mostly plastic containers with a layer of polyethylene plastic to accommodate hot food, resulting in a significant negative environmental impact.

On the other hand, sometimes, the simplest solution is the best. Opting to dine in at restaurants lets you enjoy a hot meal on proper plates and reduce the plastic use directly. This approach not only avoids creating additional waste but also prevents exposure to chemicals from plastic in takeout containers and hot food.

7. Reduce Purchasing and Wearing Clothing Made from Plastic Fibers

Plastic fibers are one of the contributing factors to ocean plastic pollution, and these fibers mostly come from polyester, nylon, acrylic, and other synthetic clothing in our closets.

Every time we wash these clothes, tiny plastic fibers (microplastics) shed and end up in the water, polluting our oceans and harming marine life. Even recycled PET clothing can contribute to this issue.

To effectively reduce this pollution, consider seeking alternatives when choosing clothing, such as natural materials like organic cotton, or opting for second-hand clothing. Through these sustainable fashion choices, we can collectively work to reduce our reliance on plastic fiber products and strive to protect the marine ecological environment.

8. Thorough Implementation of Home and Workplace Waste Sorting and Recycling

Take Taiwan for instance, despite Taiwan having the world’s second-highest effective recycling rate, we still can see news reports about piles of garbage mountains. These garbage mountains often contain various types of waste, including recyclables and non-combustibles, and their mixture can cause significant harm to the ecological environment.

Individual behavior plays a crucial role in curbing plastic consumption, safeguarding the environment, and fostering sustainable development. Upon personal adoption, extending waste sorting and recycling practices to households and workplaces, encompassing paper recycling and plastic bottle reuse, holds immense potential in mitigating new waste production.

Exploring the Recycling Process and Associated Challenges of Plastic

Source: KDAN

According to statistics from the United Nations Environment Programme, only 9% of plastic products are recycled annually, with 12% incinerated, and 79% ending up in landfills or the environment. Even for recyclable plastics like PET bottles, most can only undergo “downcycling.” However, the efficiency of plastic recycling is extremely low.

Although many manufacturers claim that recycled plastics can be used in textiles, these textiles still release plastic microfibers during washing or outdoor exposure, entering the water cycle and even the human body. While proper recycling can reduce the amount of plastic waste in the environment, it is not a perfect plastic pollution solution. To address the plastic problem, we need to start at the source by reducing plastic usage and finding efficient solutions to achieve true “plastic reduction” and address the root issues.

Many countries are actively collaborating to promote plastic reduction, hoping to turn the concept into tangible action through various conventions and regulations. For instance, representatives from various countries and regions at the United Nations Environment Assembly acknowledge the urgency of addressing plastic pollution and have jointly decided to establish the “Global Plastics Treaty.” Negotiations on the treaty’s details are being conducted through an Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee, with the fourth round scheduled for Canada this year, aiming for formal adoption by the end of the year. These regulatory efforts underscore the global importance of plastic reduction. This year’s theme for World Earth Day is “Planet vs. Plastics,” aiming to raise global awareness of plastic reduction issues.

Why Plastic Waste is Important? Understanding the 3 Major Benefits of Plastic Reduction

Protecting Human Health: Avoiding Plastic Microplastic Contamination in the Food Chain

When common plastic waste breaks down into plastic particles smaller than 5 millimeters through environmental degradation, these particles often adsorb toxic chemicals such as heavy metals and dioxins and are ingested by plankton. These particles are then consumed by fish or shellfish, causing harmful substances to accumulate continuously in marine organisms. Eventually, these organisms are caught by fishermen and end up on our plates.

According to recent research, plastic microplastics have even been detected in the placenta of pregnant women and human blood. While scientists point out that the current levels of microplastic accumulation are not sufficient to have a significant impact on health, it has already alerted us to the seriousness of plastic pollution. Through “plastic reduction,” the generation and disposal of plastic items can be reduced. Consequently, the issue of plastic microplastics entering the food chain mentioned above will be addressed with the effectiveness of plastic reduction, further protecting our health.

Compliance with Plastic Reduction Legislation and Regulations

In recent years, Taiwan has introduced a series of plastic reduction policies. In 2017, several environmental organizations in Taiwan collaborated with the Environmental Protection Administration to establish the “Taiwan Marine Debris Management Platform” and issued the “Taiwan Marine Pollution Action Plan” in 2018, which outlined a schedule for plastic reduction. According to this plan, Taiwan will gradually restrict the use of plastic bags, beverage cups, disposable tableware, and plastic straws, adopting a phased approach, and will completely ban these disposable plastic products by 2030.

Therefore, implementing plastic reduction actions and policies, whether by individuals or businesses, is not only about protecting the environment in which we live but also, with the promotion and implementation of regulations, these actions will become one of the norms that we must adhere to.

Identifying and Mitigating Financial Risks for Businesses

Plastic reduction is not just an environmental initiative; it is also a financial risk management strategy for sustainable business operations. According to assessments by CDP, in response to the global consensus on plastic reduction, if governments were to impose waste disposal fees on businesses based on estimated plastic waste quantities and recycling rates, businesses would face approximately $100 billion in financial risks annually. Additionally, there is a risk of approximately $400 billion of petrochemical and plastic investments becoming stranded assets.

Furthermore, studies indicate that the near-term exposures for businesses due to the plastic pollution crisis between 2022 and 2030 could exceed $20 billion. These figures underscore that plastic reduction efforts are not solely individual endeavors. Through plastic reduction, businesses can identify and mitigate financial risks, preventing adverse impacts on the global economy and investors, while simultaneously promoting global sustainability and environmental conservation efforts.

Partnering with KDAN for a Sustainable Future

KDAN has long been committed to sustainability efforts. By offering a range of digital workflow services such as KDAN PDF Reader, KDAN Office, and DottedSign, KDAN not only assists businesses in achieving their digital transformation goals but also reduces environmental burdens caused by paper waste and physical commuting. Regarding employee welfare, social issues, and governance policies, KDAN also advocates for various initiatives, aiming to contribute to the environment and society. Through these small actions, KDAN is committed to raising awareness among more businesses about different practices and possibilities for sustainable operations, leading us all toward a sustainable future together.


Join Us to Build a Sustainable Digital Workplace

Follow Us