While plastic pose a major threat to our environment, it does have significant benefits over other materials. It has contributed to our modern society in several ways, which has increased the demand for plastics worldwide. Unfortunately, careless disposal has led to excessive plastic pollution. But, when disposed and recycled correctly, it can be given a new life with purpose contributing to a circular economy instead of polluting the environment. That’s why Plastiks make sure all recovered plastic from recovery projects are being used as a resource and never ends up in a landfill.
Plastic as a resource
Plastic can either be ‘synthetic’ or ‘biobased’. Synthetic plastics are made from fossil fuels such as coal, natural gas or crude oil, while biobased plastics are made from carbohydrates, starch, vegetable fats and oils for example. It is then turned into plastic through a polymerization or polycondensation process.
As a material, plastic is lightweight and durable. Its features, combined with low production costs, make it suitable for many different areas of use, particularly for packaging and storing food, beverages, personal care and hygiene products. It has contributed to our modern society through its many uses in hospitals, 3D printing and communication, to name a few. Without plastics, our lives would be very different.
Plastic is an amazing resource that has changed the world for the better, but also for worse. Even though plastic is recyclable, less than 10% of plastics worldwide are being recycled. The remaining plastic ends up in landfills, beaches, oceans and ultimately in our bodies. This is mainly due to a lack of recycling infrastructure and lack of education, legislation, environmental policies, and in several parts of the world, because it hasn’t been economically profitable. Its fast manufacturing rate, combined with slow decomposition, makes for a growing plastic waste problem.
But luckily, many companies have figured out how to utilize plastic waste and make it profitable by finding new innovative solutions to use plastic in a more sustainable way, thereby contributing to a circular economy and cleaner environment.
The recycling process
Recycling offers many possibilities, depending on what type of plastic is used. Some types are easier to recycle than others, and accepted plastic types in recycling programs vary between countries and cities. Recycled plastic products are often made partly of recycled polymers combined with newly produced polymers.
Polyethylene terephthalate (PET) is the most widely recycled plastic in the world. It can, for example, be turned into new plastic bottles, food containers and clothes. Other types of plastic, such as High Density Polyethylene (HDPE), is a nontransparent, hard plastic that is often used for household cleaners, shampoo bottles, and yogurt containers. It can be turned into new plastic packaging, flowerpots and bins for example. Even hard-to-recycle plastics can be turned into something new, instead of ending up in a landfill.
Plastics that are collected to be recycled, are separated and sorted based on plastic type. The plastic then goes to a processor where it gets washed, shredded and sorted further. The plastic is then melted and extruded into new recycled plastic pellets. These pellets are sold to producers to make new products.
For example, the plastic could be made into clothes. How? The pellets are melted and extruded into yarn, which is then spun into thread. The thread later gets woven into fabric rolls, where the fabric is used to make new clothes. Recycled fabric feels just like regular fabric, it’s soft, breathable and comfortable. It’s a durable fabric that uses up to 59% less energy in production, compared to creating conventional polyester (from oil).
Where does the recovered plastic end up?
Plastiks is strictly working with recovery projects with entirely sustainable agendas, and we make sure the projects we choose to collaborate with are ethical, and are handling the recovered plastic in a responsible and sustainable way. No plastic recovered through our projects will end up in a landfill! This is the main difference between Plastiks Plastic Recovery Guarantees (PRGs) and regular plastic credits.
Read more: Plastic credits are flawed – Here’s how Plastiks is challenging the market
Some examples of how Plastiks recovery projects are utilizing recovered plastic is Esperanza in India and Njombe Beyond in Tanzania.
Esperanza collects plastic waste for recycling and turns it into high quality plastic granulate. They provide collection services to residential societies, industrial manufacturers, brands, government bodies, and others. Their innovative recycling techniques use a 5-step process called “Plaschemy”. The end product obtained from this process is in the form of high-quality plastic granules with such a high degree of consistency and homogeneity, that it equals virgin plastic.
Njombe Beyond uses simple, local Precious Plastic machines to recycle plastic waste into items of value for the local communities of Njombe. For example, single-use shampoo bottles laying on the ground can become long lasting soap dishes sold by local entrepreneurs, and smashed casings can be turned into teaching materials for schools. These machines can be accessed in an open lab by local entrepreneurs, who can experiment and learn how to recycle themselves, so they can start their own business.
Hard to recycle plastics
One of the most difficult plastic types to recycle is polycarbonate (PC), as it requires chemical recycling. Other hard-to-recycle plastics include multi-resin and mixed plastic items. Mixed plastic can often be found in everyday packaging, such as plastic trays, film, pots and tubs.
Recovery project Second Life has partnered with Asia Green Roads, which produces and commercializes a machine, transforming low-value and complex multi-layer plastic – along with glass or sand – into pavement blocks through a controlled extrusion and compression process.
Second Life invests in and owns the machinery used to produce these blocks, which help divert low-value and complex multilayer plastic from ending up directly in landfills. In this way, Second Life helps to find new solutions for otherwise non-recyclable plastic, and supports the move towards a world where all waste can be part of a circular economy.
Green startups upcycling plastics
As a desire for more sustainably sourced products emerges, and a move towards a more circular economy, more and more startups and brands are focusing on innovative solutions to make a profit.
One such example is Bureo, a Chilean company with the mission to “untangle the ocean”. With an estimate of 640,000 discarded fishing nets polluting the ocean floors and shoals each year (making up approximately 10% of the world’s plastic ocean pollution), Bureo has focused their efforts on collecting these fishing nets, recycling them into pellets, and spinning them to create ‘NetPlus yarn’. One of their clients being Patagonia. Patagonia’s iconic Baggies are now made from 100% recycled fishing nets, sourced entirely through Bureo’s NetPlus program.
Another example is The Ocean Clean Up Sunglasses, their sunglasses are made from plastic removed from the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Big fashion companies are now utilizing plastic waste and turning into new products. Adidas for example, created the Adidas x Parley collection where every item is made from at least 75% recycled ocean plastic.
As a lot of brands are making products from recycled or sustainably sourced plastics, there are innovative tech companies with sustainable agendas.
Plastiks is a so-called green tech company. The term green tech refers to the use of technology and science to reduce human impact on the natural environment. Plastiks is doing so by facilitating a marketplace connecting businesses with recovery projects and recyclers worldwide. Recovery projects and recyclers can turn their invoice data into PRG (Plastic Recovery Guarantees) NFTs. Each PRG created uses data recorded on the blockchain to certify that a corresponding amount of plastic has been recovered. The marketplace gives the opportunity to create another stream of revenue for recovery projects in affected areas, while also contributing to a world free from plastic pollution.
Read more: Learn How Plastiks Works in 6 Steps
How to connect your business with Plastiks
Companies and brands can support plastic recovery projects by acquiring PRGs on our platform, and by doing so, help recovery projects to fund their operations and achieve higher recycling rates worldwide. Companies can also sponsor recovery projects with every product they sell, through the creation of their very own NFT Collection, and even with a Shopify widget on their marketplace.
Companies can then share their impact with their customers using their Plastiks Sustainability Dashboard, and see greater customer engagement and loyalty as a result.
If your business is looking for ways to reduce its plastic footprint, but you’re unable to incorporate advanced plastic reduction practices into your core business, you can still make an impact with Plastiks. By connecting your business with Plastiks you can make sure that plastic is being recovered and recycled in affected areas of the world.