You can easily tackle plastic waste by changing your mindset from trash to treasure. Only 9% of the plastic waste is recycled. The rate can be increased with proper management techniques and proper product design.
The production of plastic has created 8.3 billion tonnes of plastic waste, since 1950. 9% has been successfully recycled while 12% has been incinerated. The remaining has been buried in landfills all around the world. Plastics take 100s of years to degrade and most of these wastes exist in some form.
All we need to do is capture those resources and use them to create new things. The new products will save us from extracting fossil fuels in the future.
Lose Virgin Plastic
Scientists have called for a treaty to end the production of virgin plastic before 2040. This agreement will charge the development of proper circulation in the plastic waste chain. Everything will be reused and the plastic will stay in a perpetual loop. The waste management should be improved and the recycling system will be 100% efficient if all the parts work together.
We need to adopt a proper waste-to-product mindset where we can communicate the value of wastes to plastic manufacturers. Such a strategy can provide financial benefits to the organization and be sustainable as well. When they utilize this plastic waste they are reducing the total mass of the waste, meeting with their CSR objectives as well as pre-empt government legislation on EPR and recycling mandates. It also reduces the dependence on raw materials, shortens the supply chains, and reduces the cost incurred.
Loop Versus Line To Tackle Plastic Waste
When you look at the loop, all the plastic waste is recycled back into the products and creates a loop. There would be no leakage into the surroundings and nothing would be downgraded. If you look at the technical viewpoint of things, all the plastics can be converted into fuel through chemical recycling. Pyrolysis is an example of such a method and requires an incredible investment and is not feasible for small organizations.
Converting Waste To Products
The 381 million tonnes of plastic waste is generated mostly from developing countries. The waste management techniques are quite rudimentary in those nations. Basic mechanical recycling can transform low-quality waste into a functional product like latrines and furniture. This will keep the wastes out of the oceans and boost the local economy. A lounge chair can be made from recycled HDPE and was nominated for the Plastics Recycling Awards Europe 2021.
The chair shows that it is possible to incorporate recycled material while using advanced technology in remote settings.
Another opportunity for this conversion can be seen in the fish industry. This industry contributes 10% of plastics in the oceans that includes nets and gear. Enaleia, a Greek initiative, has collected 20,000kg of used nets and recycled them into 260,000 pairs of socks. This had prevented ocean pollution and created an extra income for 1,000 fishers.
Nothing Is Disposable In Plastic Waste
The current pandemic has made us prioritize our health over our future. People have turned to PPE to protect themselves from the infection. The masks are used for a short time and then discarded on the streets or parks. Wilko has come up with a response to this problem. The Masks can be washed and shredded down into raw materials. It can then be redesigned into other products like safety materials or furniture.
The creation of a circular plastic economy is a dream but not a fantasy. Recycling technology is developing faster every day and pulling us towards a perfect method. We need to let go of our “wasting” mentality and look for creating opportunities to the produced plastic waste.