Over the last month of the blog, we’ve looked at the issues caused by plastic pollution in our food, in our recycling and even in our dental care – and what we can do to tackle them. For the last week of June’s plastic waste reduction theme, we wanted to end on a positive note.
Yes, we know plastic waste is a problem so enormous it’s hard to get your head around. But are we going to use this as a reason to give up? No way.
Is there still hope for the future? Absolutely!
Plastic waste recycling as a way out of poverty
Imagine if plastic became “too valuable to throw away”? That’s the idea behind the startup company Plastic Bank. Here’s how it works:
- Plastic Bank sets up a branch in a coastal community. This place is carefully chosen: somewhere that’s not only drowning in plastic pollution, but also where many people are forced, through no fault of their own, to live a hand-to-mouth existence.
- Plastic Bank offers to pay local people a premium to collect the plastic waste polluting their streets and coastline. It’s up to the individual what they want to put the premium towards, whether that’s stocking up on food, paying for health care treatment or investing in school tuition and adult learning skills.
- Jobs are created at the Plastic Bank branch, running the premium system as well as processing the plastics before they’re sent for recycling. This brings money into the community and gives local people experience that can help them get other work.
- The products made from the recycled plastic waste is trademarked Social Plastic®. Remember the name if you want to support both the removal of plastic from our oceans AND people working hard for a better future for themselves, their families and their communities.
Infinitely recyclable plastic
One of the reasons glass wins out over plastic, ecologically speaking, is that glass is infinitely recyclable:
- Plain glass can be used and recycled, used and recycled, used and recycled, endlessly with no loss of quality.
- Plastic objects are manufactured using huge numbers of different chemical dyes, fillers and flame retardants. This weird mix of additives permanently attaches itself to the plastic molecules. Batches of recycled plastic are murkier and less durable than the original – and each time the plastic is recycled, the quality gets worse.
Until now, that is…
Last year, scientists announced that they’d created a new plastic, called polydiketoenamine (PDK). Unlike all the other plastics we use today, its molecules can be ‘cleaned’ of those pesky additives with a quick dip in an acid bath. And if a plastic can be returned to its original building block form, it becomes infinitely recyclable with no loss of quality, in the same way as glass.
Plastic is lighter and therefore less emissions-intensive to transport than glass. Infinitely recyclable PDK products could be a total game changer. Imagine, no need to chuck any plastic away ever again. Imagine 100% of it can be ‘washed’ clean and recycled into new, high quality objects.
What are your hopes for the future of recycling? Would you like to see products made out of infinitely recyclable PDK plastic in the shops?
Share your thoughts with the Greenredeem team below.