A devil's bargain

While plastics are an integral part of today's global consumer economy, many of their properties make them dangerous for the environment. Plastics, like many new technologies, were developed without considering their environmental impacts. However, it is now impossible to ignore their negative side, as we face a growing problem with plastic pollution. This special issue examines a variety of topics related to plastics. We discuss their distribution in the environment, their evolution into an evolutionary trap, and how we can rethink these issues to make our future better. Review articles discuss how plastics can be best understood as novel geomaterials. They also examine the ecological and evolutionary dimensions of plastic ingestion by animals. How innovations in recycling and upcycling may impact the fate of plastics. A Policy Forum and two Perspectives provide additional information and discuss the efforts to create a global agreement on plastic pollution. They also give an overview of the history and implications of environmental bioplastics, as well as suggestions for designing plastics to support a circular bioeconomy. A pair of News Features examines the use of enzymes to help in plastic recycling efforts. They also discuss how museums try to prevent plastics from deteriorating in their exhibits. It is too late to prevent plastic pollution. However, it is time to change the future of plastics in this world.Impacts of plastic waste upon marine species PHOTO : NASTCO/ISTOCKPHOTO GRAPHIC: K.FRANKLIN/SCIENCE DATA SOURCE : HTTPS://OURWORLDINDATA.ORG/PLASTIC–POLLUTION; GEYER ET ALL., SCI. ADV. ADV.