The use of plastics is really becoming a big issue that damages the environment significantly. People use plastics every day without much thought on the environmental impact, from hospital utilities to household products, as well as our daily gadgets like mobile phones and vehicles, are mostly made from plastics. Plastics are convenient to use, and it is the cheapest method to produce. Most people often ignore the damage that can be done from plastics and set convenience as a priority.
Small business owners, for example, a bubble tea shop, dispose of up to 1000 disposable plastic cups, straws, and plastic lids, as well as plastic bags for takeout orders per day. However, that is just one of it. There are thousands of stores in the market that does the same thing. As a result, it is causing a major concern to the environment. It causes air pollution when it is incinerated, soil erosion due to the harmful chemicals, damaging the marine ecosystem, affects the food chain cycle, has an economic effect, and well as creating health hazards due to the harmful synthetic material.
However, one of the damages that are caused by plastics, is the marine ecosystem. According to the United Nations Environment Assembly, plastic waste causes $13 billion damage on marine ecosystems. It is often caused by badly managed landfills, littering, fisheries and tourism industries. Marine pollution has the largest cause, plastic causes greenhouse effect from raw material production process.
Social concerns are generally caused by companies that have a motive of profit maximization, while society bears the social cost. Business from manufactures, food and beverage industries to household products, are all producing plastic waste every day. Most of the waste is not being disposed of properly ends up in drainage systems as well as rivers that will be taken away to the ocean.
Plastics are considered as a hazardous good as they contain chemical polymers that will damage the ecosystem and may take centuries to decompose. Over the decades, marine pollution is getting critical day by day, but actions have only started recently. Most are the marine litters are plastics, where it is from beach activities, mishandled garbage, and litter carried by modern drainage system as well as rivers. According to Vegter et al. (2014), the production of plastics was reaching 265 million tons annually by 2010. Marine wildlife is often affected by ingesting plastic debris, entangled and bioaccumulation which will affect the function of the body system of marine life, both macro, and microplastics are harmful. Animals affected include sea fishes, seagulls, sea turtles, and other kinds of invertebrates. Even if the plastic biodegrades, it will break down into smaller pieces, however, it is still considered a threat to marine life.
Government & CSR
However, governments are now imposing bans on plastic bag usage in certain countries and region, retailers voluntarily ban plastic bags and a tax is imposed towards plastic bags on request. CSR stands for Corporate Social Responsibility and it is so far the most popular method to contribute back to the society and promote sustainability. According to Yeow, Dean & Tucker (2014), Mark and Spencer and imposed a stop on single bag distribution, a CSR project, and 7 other big supermarket chain also agreed to reduce the number of single-use plastic bags. 62% of the consumers are becoming supportive towards the environment, they care about the ethical concerns that are related to businesses. It is considered as a competitive advantage to be able to meet the requirements of consumer towards the environment. However, it is more difficult to think about basic business ethics than being a good citizen which it involves money and people.
Classical Business Perspective View
According to Lantos (2001), there are two types of classical business perspective view, which are the “pure-profit making view” and “constrained profit-making view”. The pure profit-making view may involve fraud and exaggeration and often involves business people who are dishonest and does not have a high moral standard, as long as they make their profit, that is the most important thing. On the other hand, the constrained profit-making view is considered as an honest business, which maximizes profit as much as they can by following the rules and regulations. However, it is a difficult task for the stakeholders to agree on a CSR project which involves extra money and time. Many people focus on domestic ethics and tend to ignore global ethics, what a company wants is just to strive for expansion and sales.
As there is a need for the sustainability of the environment nowadays, it is crucial to promote CSR activities among companies. Plastics should be reduced as much as possible as it is obviously causing a serious damage to the society. Even though plastic is considered as lightweight, durable and cheapest method to produce, it is something that needs to be stopped, alternative methods should be used to ensure no further damage is caused. The perception towards CSR is how the company voluntarily integrates social via interactions with stakeholders and how they can make the society a better place.
Research says that organizations need to start looking at plastic footprints, just like the awareness on the reduction of carbon footprint, water contamination, and deforestation. Companies need to set a target for waste reduction as well as recycling programs to reduce environmental impact.
When making a decision for a company, it depends on the ethical and moral concerns of the company, the behavior of the decision maker is crucial to consider whether the decision made will be harmful or bring other effects to the society. Virtue ethics is one of the ethics which involves moral characters of a person, every person should have virtue ethics when making a decision. Managers should take serious consideration upon decision-making process, even though there may be pressure from stakeholders or others, postmodern ethics will come into mind when the decision maker is no longer in office and will think about the damage made just by following the organization’s code.
As a result, decision-makers and organizations should always have duties for others, which is ethics of duties, it is not your right to damage others, for example, plastics that harm the marine life, humans, the food chain and the environment. If everyone acted the same way of doing business, it can result in a long-term effect, consequences that cannot be bared and reversed. For example, marine animals will perceive plastics and tend to ingest it, or they could not get free when they get entangled with plastic objects may cause death in them. Profit-makers should always do the right thing that does not cause harm to others, and they must avoid them when it is wrong.
In conclusion, ethics of a person matters a lot and may have a long-term effect towards the society. Organizations should practice moral characteristics and ethics to help maintain a sustainable environment rather than profit maximization. Ethical views regardless of the ethics of rights of duty are what an organization should think about the rights of others and ensure that it does not affect other people. Putting ethical views into every decision-making process, such as plastic waste management, will help promote a sustainable environment as well as a corporate socially responsible organization.
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