Why are our plastic
recycling systems broken?
More than 40 years after the launch of the
well-known recycling symbol, only 5%
of plastic packaging will get a second life.
THERE IS NO DEMAND FOR
Recycled plastic have an inferior quality than virgin plastic.
For recycled plastic to be of high-quality, it is a costly process, which raises the price of recycled plastic above the cost of virgin plastic.
Why would anyone buy an inferior quality product
at a more expensive cost when they can get higher quality, for cheaper?
BUT...I put all my recyclables in the recycling bin, my city has it picked up and taken to the recycling center.
Are you saying it doesn't get reused?
For plastic packaging and other types of plastics, today's reality is that we treat the material to make it suitable for reuse, but
it doesn't get reused.
THINK ABOUT YOUR
Do you unscrew the cap off your water bottle?
Do you remove the label off the ketchup bottle? What if the glue from that label doesn't dissolve in water? If it doesn't, it can contaminate the plastic recycling stream.
Let's also not forget: recyclable plastic packaging all have various versions of synthetic polymers, stabilizers, fillers, plasticizers, colorants and more.
We take recycling for granted, but the reality is that the process is very complex.
Are our plastic recyclables perfectly cleaned, sorted and their chemical components separated? No.
The end product results in a low quality plastic that most manufacturers do not want to buy.
OH AND, WHAT ABOUT THE ONES THAT ESCAPE?
When our trash never makes it to the landfill and/or our recyclables to the recycling center, we call it "leakage".
United States and Europe are
considered to have advanced collection systems. However, 5% of plastics still escape and plastic packaging is particularly prone to leakage.
A frisbee, for example, falls into the "plastics" category, but a milk plastic container is considered "plastic packaging".
Even if plastic packaging leakage would be reduced globally from 32% to 1%, about 1 million ton would still escape the collection systems and accumulate in nature, every year.
As of now, it is estimated that 170,000 tons of various plastic types end up in our oceans yearly.
HOW DO WE FIX OUR
PLASTIC RECYCLING SYSTEMS?
A global plastic protocol would need to be applied and followed to ensure that the end product is as pure as possible.
By making recycled plastic a valuable product,
demand would increase and the future of the
plastic recycling industry, secured.
1. fewer types of plastics
2. plastics of high durable quality
3. identical chemical additives
4. markings for quick sorting
5. and do intensive cleaning + granular post-sorting
WE NEED TO PRODUCE:
The first step consists of establishing universal
design standards for plastic packaging.
Following these standards, we could then have:
easy access to a list of the recycled resin composition
brand owners and manufacturers committed to purchasing recycled resin pellets
measures taken by policymakers to reduce landfilling and incineration
Sounds like we need to completely reinvent the
plastic recycling system
Is this achievable? What are the odds of this really happening?