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With the price of oil escalating and the pressure to turn away from fossil fuels and use carbon alternative energy sources are ever growing, the market for recyclates is set to explode. But it needs a fully integrated system, with everyone on the value chain working in unison to make this possible.

However, advanced recycling technologies are expensive and unfavourable in terms of energy inputs. And although nobody will tell you this out loud, chemical recycling is not the eureka solution the industry first thought. Chemical recycling is even more expensive. The whole operation is only worthwhile when oil prices are high.

Who will invest in such plants, if it isn’t clear whether they can be operated economically?

Everyone from plastic material suppliers and producers to recyclers to waste management specialists, all want one thing. To accelerate the circular economy for plastics through recycling in the industry. Plastics manufacturers want to show that they are leading the way and increasing their share in the cycle. However, they also want to be prepared in case there are future political requirements for a higher recycled content in plastic products, and there is a lot to be said for that at present.

The big question is: Do you want to steer or be steered?

We need more industry leaders taking bold action, taking responsibility for the materials they put on the market and ensuring circular use. Legislation is coming up across most European countries at full speed, forcing the industry to catch up with their promises. At the moment though, it is still mainly Europe that is driving the circular economy forward.

It’s no longer viable or profitable to sit on the side-lines and hope someone else will fix the broken system – change-makers within companies need to step up. Those who do so and openly embrace the circular economy will reap the rewards for their companies and our environment

From a waste producer and industry perspective, there’s a number of things we can do to lessen the burden on the system and the climate……

♻ Prevent Over Production and consumption.

♻ Do your due diligence and work with the best waste providers.

♻ Fully Understanding What are Your Wastes.

♻ Understanding Where Your Waste Goes.

♻ Openness and willingness to share knowledge.

♻ Challenge recyclable roadblocks and promote innovative thinking to lead the way forward.

Exploring unrealistic solutions such as a paper bottle for carbonated beverages boils down to corporate greenwashing that wastes precious time and resources and leads to an obvious dead end whilst confusing much of the public with product introduction that is far less green than the product its replacing. A far more effective scenario is to focus single-mindedly on creating a circular economy that is commercially viable and that directly solves our growing post-consumer plastic waste crisis. Many stand-out new technologies focus on improving collection and sorting to raise the quality of recyclates produced.

The good news is that sustainable plastics is achievable. Of course, it is, but it will require closing the loop on plastics of all types, not just PET bottles. Most notably the awkward to recycle plastics such as films, pots, tubs and trays. The pathway to an efficient circular economy is still blocked by archaic ways of designing products and the mechanisms of material collection and recycling. Waste and recycling companies need to be prepared to join together and move beyond their comfort zones to reach new levels of change.

To truly create an effective circular economy, we need to focus on closing all loops to ensure post-consumer plastic waste is consistently and efficiently turned back into new materials.

Why we need to view plastic as a carbon saving industry……

Never before have we seen such dramatic changes to the way the recycled plastics market has grown in value and volume. The entire recycling ecosystem is undergoing a fundamental transformation spurred by a growing demand for high quality post-consumer recycled materials.

However, it is time to ramp everything up and face the facts. To be truly circular with effective sustainability programmes operating to minimise impact, we need to address matters of education, knowledge and cultural change regarding the plastic product per sae that is urgently needed otherwise the next waste cycle will be much more damaging to the environment. In order for a product or material to be truly described as sustainable it must be environmentally, economically and socially sustainable.

Achieving the mission of industry governance for a cleaner, more sustainable future is possible so long as we have a clear set of unified design for recycling guidelines, consistent collections and material quality standards to mark the end of this shameful discard era.

Published by

Neil Platt

Quality & Systems Manager
POLYBLEND UK LIMITED

 

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