Archive for the Recycling News Category

Be Prepared for Anything (Commentary)

If 2020 has taught us anything, it is that we should be prepared for the unexpected to happen. It is hard to believe just how much has transpired this year aside from COVID-19 and the movement stemming from the death of George Floyd. The year starte
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Europe ponders its new pressure on discarded plastics

Europe ponders its new pressure on discarded plastics
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The EU’s €800 ($ 946) per metric ton charge on unrecycled discarded plastic, passed by the EU Council on July 21, and which takes effect from January 2021, sent shockwaves through the market because of both its size and narrow timeframe to implementation.

Reaction so far has been mixed, with immediate questions on how it will be calculated, how it will be passed through the supply chain, and whether it will lead to greater regulatory divergence on plastics.

Let’s look at the known details that have emerged since the announcements, and the outstanding concerns and questions in the recycling and virgin plastic markets.

The new charge of €800 per metric ton for all non-recycled packaging scrap will be paid by EU nations from January 1, 2021. National contributions will be calculated by the European Commission using existing reporting obligations under the Packaging Waste Directive (Directive 94/62/ECC) and its implementing Decision (Decision (EU) 2019/665.

Under that directive, member states provide data on plastic packaging and recycling. The data are published on the Eurostat website.

The charge will be used to fund the coronavirus recovery package, and charged at the nation state level.

The charge is not a tax, although commonly referred to as one, because it is payable at state level rather than by individuals or corporations. Nation states could, however, seek to recover the cost of the charge through taxation.

The methods used to meet the cost of the charge will be up to individual countries, and the EU Council has not proposed any regulatory stipulations around this. Individual countries are free to adopt different approaches, and could seek to recoup the cost of meeting the charge from differing parts of the supply chain, leading to potential regulatory divergence.

How nation states will incorporate this into national legislation remains the key uncertainty for plastic and recycling markets.

Some players have welcomed the move because it could encourage higher recycling rates in the future, and for devolving how this is implemented across the supply chain to individual national governments.

“[It will be] good for the industry – I think it’s a realistic thing because many countries [and] people [have] had, long term, time enough to think about packaging,” says a recycled polymer producer.

Other players, however, raised concerns around regulatory divergence and the resultant potential difficulties with cross-border trade.

“What happens when I send something to the UK? What happens when I send it to Germany. Who bears this burden? Don’t get me wrong, I’m not against any of this, we just don’t understand [how it will be implemented],” a recycler comments.

They further argue that it does little to alleviate infrastructure shortages and legislative barriers that limit the ability of the market to increase recycled material suitable for food-grade packaging and hazardous material packaging, and that the charge could encourage a shift to non-plastic packaging types such as glass, paper and cardboard.

“Changing a plastic into a glass bottle is not solving the problem,” says one major packaging producer. “I think it’s a tool from the politicians to do something that is their own target, but is this the correct approach or the right approach? Let’s see what the countries do. For sure, if there’s a tax, it could increase plastic use, but adding an additional charge on plastic and changing to other packaging is not the correct approach.”

There have been concerns that the bill does nothing to address waste collection infrastructure shortages, and that the short time scale to implementation does not allow nation states enough time to enact the legislation in a considered manner.

“[in] the first years, the tax won’t be dodged. Supply chains just aren’t ready,” a packaging converter remarks.

According to several sources, the lack of suitable waste collection infrastructure will mean that the cost of any potential plastic taxes currently proposed or introduced on the back of this legislation would simply be passed on to the consumer, until chemical recycling matures and provides enough volume of material to tackle shortages.

“To be honest, I don’t see correlation between use of recycled material and this new levy,” says a manager with a large integrated waste management firm. “The national governments will not have the time to implement this by January, and how [will they] pass [this] through the supply chain. I’d love to say we see a reaction but the only extra project it will push is whether people want to substitute to other materials that aren’t plastic. That’s a pity. I thought greenwashing was done by companies, but now it seems the EU are using it to raise money.”

Continues the waste management firm employee, “It will be very dependent on the measures that the country takes. If they just pass it through, it will be ultimately the consumer that pays and [there will be] no incentive to do more collection, better sorting or use more recycled content in their product. If they just forward to the consumer, that’s more or less it. This seems like a rushed tax that only fills the gaps in the budget, and that’s really disappointing.”

Some also have highlighted that if the cost of the charge is passed through to the supply chain, for many packaging applications the limited volume per item of material will mean the addition of only 1 to 2 cents per item, which might easily be transferable to consumers.

“It sounds a lot of money, but at €800 per metric ton, and if it’s 20 grams (.7 ounces) [of packaging] it’s not a big deal,” a recycled polymer producer says.

To achieve European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) approval, 95 percent of the material used in reprocessing must have been sourced from food-contact applications, and there must be full and provable traceability throughout the chain.

For recycled material such as recycled-content polypropylene (PP), where multiple forms of scrap are collected in curbside systems, proving provenance of material to reach the 95 percent content threshold is prohibitive.

The only post-consumer-derived source of food grade recycled-content high-density polyethylene (HDPE) pellets is in the United Kingdom, where milk bottles provide an easily separated stream of scrap.

Structural shortages of material, along with technical limitations such as opacity of material and loss of tensile strength, have led companies to explore other avenues for reaching sustainability commitments, such as chemical recycling or bio-based materials.

The author is senior editor, recycling with London-based Independent Commodity Intelligence Services (ICIS).

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Source: Recycling Today
Europe ponders its new pressure on discarded plastics
<![CDATA[The EU’s €800 ($ 946) per metric ton charge on unrecycled discarded plastic, passed by the EU Council on July 21, and which takes effect from January 2021, sent shockwaves through the market because of both its size and narrow timeframe to implementation.Reaction so far has been mixed, with immediate questions on how it will be calculated, how it will be passed through the supply chain, and whether it will lead to greater regulatory divergence on plastics.Let’s look at the known details that have emerged since the announcements, and the outstanding concerns and questions in the recycling and virgin plastic markets.The new charge of €800 per metric ton for all non-recycled packaging scrap will be paid by EU nations from January 1, 2021. National contributions will be calculated by the European Commission using existing reporting obligations under the Packaging Waste Directive (Directive 94/62/ECC) and its implementing Decision (Decision (EU) 2019/665.Under that directive, member states provide data on plastic packaging and recycling. The data are published on the Eurostat website.The charge will be used to fund the coronavirus recovery package, and charged at the nation state level.The charge is not a tax, although commonly referred to as one, because it is payable…

Carolina Recycling Association

US reinstates tariffs on Canadian aluminum imports

US reinstates tariffs on Canadian aluminum imports
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President Trump announced Thursday, Aug. 6, that he had signed a proclamation reimposing Section 232 tariffs on aluminum imports from Canada during a visit to a Whirlpool plant in Ohio. “Canada was taking advantage of us, as usual,” Trump said during a speech in Ohio.

“Several months ago, my administration agreed to lift those tariffs in return for a promise from the Canadian government that its aluminum industry would not flood our country with exports and kill all our aluminum jobs, which is exactly what they did,” he said. “Canadian aluminum producers have broken that commitment, and the U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer has advised me that this step to reimpose tariffs is absolutely necessary to defend our aluminum industry."

Tom Dobbins, president and CEO of the Aluminum Association, Washington, which represents U.S. and foreign-based primary producers of aluminum, aluminum recyclers and producers of fabricated products and industry suppliers, issued a statement responding to the decision to reimpose the tariffs on nonalloyed unwrought, or P1020, aluminum from Canada:

“We’re incredibly disappointed that the administration failed to listen to the vast majority of domestic aluminum companies and users by reinstating Section 232 tariffs on Canadian aluminum. After years of complex negotiations and hard work by government, industry and other leaders across North America to make the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) a reality, this ill-advised action on a key trading partner undermines the deal’s benefits at a time when U.S. businesses and consumers can least afford it.”

Dobbins adds that while the association understands the action is meant to help the domestic aluminum industry, “the volatility of implementing, removing and then reimposing trade barriers threatens U.S. growth and investment at a time when domestic demand is already down nearly 25 percent year to date.” He says assessing tariffs on Canadian aluminum imports fails to address “the underlying issue of China’s overcapacity and makes U.S. aluminum companies less competitive when trying to sell their goods to industrial customers across North America.”

Dobbins continues, “As the Aluminum Association has extensively documented, reports of a ‘surge’ of primary aluminum imports from Canada are grossly exaggerated. Data released just yesterday by the U.S. Census Bureau showed that overall primary aluminum imports from the U.S. to Canada declined about 2.6 percent from May to June and are below levels seen as recently as 2017. The few companies that stand to benefit from reinstated 232 tariffs on aluminum have cherry-picked government data and omitted important context to build their case, which unfortunately won the day.

“The Aluminum Association will continue to monitor trade flows and advocate for the removal of Section 232 aluminum tariffs on all market economy countries. The industry strongly favors continued targeted trade enforcement that addresses the real problem in the market today—massive Chinese metal subsidies that drive massive overcapacity," he adds.

According to the Aluminum Association, despite targeted trade enforcement activity, including antidumping and countervailing duty cases, that has reduced imports of Chinese aluminum into the U.S. in recent years, China’s subsidy-driven overcapacity continues to grow. The association says China’s aluminum overcapacity has grown by 60 percent throughout the last five years, with that production increasingly being exported to third-party countries, further distorting global markets. “In fact, according to recent figures from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), smelters in China produced 3.02 million tons of primary aluminum, the highest ever June amount,” the association notes, with total output up 1.7 percent year to date. The association cites research by Beijing-based Antaike, which claims that Chinese producers have brought an additional 680,000 tons per year of new aluminum production capacity online in the first six months of 2020, despite the overcapacity that already exists. This additional capacity is equal to nearly 40 percent of total U.S. aluminum smelting capacity, according to the Aluminum Association.

In response to the reintroduction of tariffs on Canadian aluminum, that country’s Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland says Canada “intends to swiftly impose dollar-for-dollar countermeasures,” adding that the actions on the part of the Trump administration are “unwarranted and unacceptable.”

She continues, “Canadian aluminum does not undermine U.S. national security. Canadian aluminum strengthens U.S. national security and has done so for decades through unparalleled cooperation between our two countries. Canada is a reliable supplier of aluminum for American value-added manufacturers. Aluminum trade between Canada and the U.S. has long been mutually beneficial economically for both countries, making the North American aluminum industry as a whole more competitive around the world.

“In the time of a global pandemic and an economic crisis, the last thing Canadian and American workers need is new tariffs that will raise costs for manufacturers and consumers, impede the free flow of trade, and hurt provincial and state economies,” Freeland says.

 

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Source: Recycling Today
US reinstates tariffs on Canadian aluminum imports
<![CDATA[President Trump announced Thursday, Aug. 6, that he had signed a proclamation reimposing Section 232 tariffs on aluminum imports from Canada during a visit to a Whirlpool plant in Ohio. “Canada was taking advantage of us, as usual,” Trump said during a speech in Ohio. “Several months ago, my administration agreed to lift those tariffs in return for a promise from the Canadian government that its aluminum industry would not flood our country with exports and kill all our aluminum jobs, which is exactly what they did,” he said. “Canadian aluminum producers have broken that commitment, and the U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer has advised me that this step to reimpose tariffs is absolutely necessary to defend our aluminum industry."Tom Dobbins, president and CEO of the Aluminum Association, Washington, which represents U.S. and foreign-based primary producers of aluminum, aluminum recyclers and producers of fabricated products and industry suppliers, issued a statement responding to the decision to reimpose the tariffs on nonalloyed unwrought, or P1020, aluminum from Canada: “We’re incredibly disappointed that the administration failed to listen to the vast majority of domestic aluminum companies and users by reinstating Section 232 tariffs on Canadian aluminum. After years of complex negotiations and hard…

Carolina Recycling Association

Google Issues Largest Corporate Sustainability Bond of Any Company in History

As part of a $ 10 billion debt offering, Google’s parent company Alphabet has issued $ 5.75 billion in sustainability bonds, the largest sustainability or green bond by any company in history.

The post Google Issues Largest Corporate Sustainability Bond of Any Company in History appeared first on Environment + Energy Leader.

Environment + Energy Leader

Microsoft announces new recycling, sustainability goals

Microsoft announces new recycling, sustainability goals
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Microsoft, Redmond, Washington, has announced it plans to achieve zero waste in its direct operations, products and packaging by 2030. To address its waste creation, Microsoft says it plans to reduce nearly as much waste as it generates while reusing, repurposing or recycling its solids, compost, electronics, construction and demolition and hazardous wastes.

According to a news release from Microsoft, the company aims to divert “at least 90 percent of the solid waste headed to landfills and incineration from [its] campuses and data centers” as well as “manufacture 100 percent recyclable Surface devices, use 100-percent-recyclable packaging (in Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, OECD, countries) and achieve at a minimum 75 percent diversion of construction and demolition waste for all projects.”

The company says, “This work builds on our ongoing waste reduction efforts that started in 2008, which resulted in the zero-waste certifications of our Puget Sound Campus and our datacenters in Boydton, Virginia, and Dublin."

New circular centers

To meet the growing demand for Microsoft’s cloud services, the company says its data center footprint—and the 3 million servers and related hardware that power it—must expand. Servers have an average life span of five years and contribute to the world’s growing e-waste problem, Microsoft says. To address that challenge, Microsoft reports that it is building “first-of-their-kind Microsoft Circular Centers” to reuse and recycle servers and hardware. 

The company says the centers will be located on its new major data center campuses and regions.

“Using machine learning, we will process servers and hardware that are being decommissioned on-site,” the company states. “We’ll sort the pieces that can be reused and repurposed by us, our customers or sold. We will use our learnings about reuse, disassembly, reassembly and recycling with design and supply chain teams to help improve the sustainability of future generations of equipment.”  

Microsoft says its Microsoft Circular Center pilot in Amsterdam reduced downtime at the data center and increased the availability of server and network parts for the company’s internal reuse and buyback by its suppliers. It also reduced the cost of transporting and shipping servers and hardware to processing facilities, which lowered carbon emissions. 

“We expect the Microsoft Circular Centers to increase the reuse of our servers and components by up to 90 percent by 2025,” the company says.

Making investments

Microsoft has announced that it is investing $ 30 million in Closed Loop Partners’ funds to help accelerate the infrastructure, innovation and business models for supply chain digitization, e-scrap collection, food waste reduction and recycling industry products to build a more circular economy at scale. 

“We plan to use our learnings from our partnership [with Closed Loop Partners] to inform Microsoft’s circular economy initiatives in our devices and cloud value chains, specifically packaging, e-waste and waste diversion from landfills,” the company says. 

Eliminating single-use plastics

Microsoft reports that it also is looking to address the challenges of single-use plastics. The company is eliminating plastics from its business-to-business packaging for all Microsoft primary products and within its data centers by 2025. This will include plastic film, primary product packaging and its information technology (IT) asset packaging.

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Source: Recycling Today
Microsoft announces new recycling, sustainability goals
<![CDATA[Microsoft, Redmond, Washington, has announced it plans to achieve zero waste in its direct operations, products and packaging by 2030. To address its waste creation, Microsoft says it plans to reduce nearly as much waste as it generates while reusing, repurposing or recycling its solids, compost, electronics, construction and demolition and hazardous wastes.According to a news release from Microsoft, the company aims to divert “at least 90 percent of the solid waste headed to landfills and incineration from [its] campuses and data centers” as well as “manufacture 100 percent recyclable Surface devices, use 100-percent-recyclable packaging (in Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, OECD, countries) and achieve at a minimum 75 percent diversion of construction and demolition waste for all projects.”The company says, “This work builds on our ongoing waste reduction efforts that started in 2008, which resulted in the zero-waste certifications of our Puget Sound Campus and our datacenters in Boydton, Virginia, and Dublin."New circular centersTo meet the growing demand for Microsoft’s cloud services, the company says its data center footprint—and the 3 million servers and related hardware that power it—must expand. Servers have an average life span of five years and contribute to the world’s growing e-waste problem, Microsoft…

Carolina Recycling Association

Citigroup and Bank of America Join Morgan Stanley in Commitment to Disclose Emissions from Loans and Investments

Citi and Bank of America announced recently they will join the Partnership for Carbon Accounting Financials, a global framework for financial institutions to measure and disclose the emissions from their lending and investment portfolios.

The post Citigroup and Bank of America Join Morgan Stanley in Commitment to Disclose Emissions from Loans and Investments appeared first on Environment + Energy Leader.

Environment + Energy Leader

Scientists Develop Smart Tech to Cut Commercial Fleet Emissions in Half

Computer scientists in the United Kingdom report that they have developed new intelligent vehicle routing technology that can cut vehicle fleet emissions in half.

The post Scientists Develop Smart Tech to Cut Commercial Fleet Emissions in Half appeared first on Environment + Energy Leader.

Environment + Energy Leader

Chemists make tough plastics recyclable

Chemists make tough plastics recyclable
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Thermoset plastics, which include epoxies, polyurethanes and rubber used for tires, are found in many products that have to be durable and heat-resistant, such as cars or electrical appliances. One drawback to these materials is that they typically cannot be easily recycled or broken down after use because the chemical bonds holding them together are stronger than those found in other materials, such as thermoplastics.

MIT chemists have now developed a way to modify thermoset plastics with a chemical linker that makes the materials much easier to break down, but still allows them to retain the mechanical strength that makes them so useful.

In a study appearing July 22 in Nature, the researchers showed that they could produce a degradable version of a thermoset plastic called pDCPD, break it down into a powder and use the powder to create more pDCPD. They also proposed a theoretical model suggesting that their approach could be applicable to a wide range of plastics and other polymers, such as rubber.

“This work unveils a fundamental design principle that we believe is general to any kind of thermoset with this basic architecture,” says Jeremiah Johnson, a professor of chemistry at MIT and the senior author of the study.

Peyton Shieh, an American Cancer Society Postdoctoral Fellow at MIT, is the first author of the paper.

Hard to recycle

Thermosets are one of the two major classes of plastics, along with thermoplastics. Thermoplastics include polyethylene and polypropylene, which are used for plastic bags and other single-use plastics like food wrappers. These materials are made by heating up small pellets of plastic until they melt, then molding them into the desired shape and letting them cool back into a solid.

Thermoplastics, which make up about 75 percent of worldwide plastic production, can be recycled by heating them again until they become liquid, so they can be remolded into a new shape.

Thermoset plastics are made by a similar process, but once they are cooled from a liquid into a solid, it is very difficult to return them to a liquid state. That’s because the bonds that form between the polymer molecules are strong chemical attachments called covalent bonds, which are very difficult to break. When heated, thermoset plastics will typically burn before they can be remolded, Johnson says.

“Once they are set in a given shape, they’re in that shape for their lifetime,” he says. “There is often no easy way to recycle them.”

The MIT team wanted to develop a way to retain the positive attributes of thermoset plastics—their strength and durability—while making them easier to break down after use.

In a paper published last year, with Shieh as the lead author, Johnson’s group reported a way to create degradable polymers for drug delivery by incorporating a building block, or monomer, containing a silyl ether group. This monomer is randomly distributed throughout the material, and when the material is exposed to acids, bases or ions such as fluoride, the silyl ether bonds break.

The same type of chemical reaction used to synthesize those polymers also is used to make some thermoset plastics, including polydicyclopentadiene (pDCPD), which is used for body panels in trucks and buses.

Using the same strategy from their 2019 paper, the researchers added silyl ether monomers to the liquid precursors that form pDCPD. They found that if the silyl ether monomer made up between 7.5 and 10 percent of the overall material, pDCPD would retain its mechanical strength but could be broken down into a soluble powder upon exposure to fluoride ions.

“That was the first exciting thing we found,” Johnson says. “We can make pDCPD degradable while not hurting its useful mechanical properties.”

New materials

In the second phase of the study, the researchers tried to reuse the resulting powder to form a new pDCPD material. After dissolving the powder in the precursor solution used to make pDCPD, they were able to make new pDCPD thermosets from the recycled powder.

“That new material has nearly indistinguishable, and in some ways improved, mechanical properties compared to the original material,” Johnson says. “Showing that you can take the degradation products and remake the same thermoset again using the same process is exciting.”

The researchers believe that this general approach could be applied to other types of thermoset chemistry as well. In this study, they showed that using degradable monomers to form the individual strands of the polymers is much more effective than using degradable bonds to “cross-link” the strands together, which has been tried before. They believe that this cleavable strand approach could be used to generate many other kinds of degradable materials.

“This is an exciting advance in engineering thermoset plastics,” says Jeffrey Moore, a professor of chemistry at the University of Illinois, who was not involved in the study. “Chemists have spent most of their effort learning to synthesize better plastics and far less chemistry research has been invested into the science of polymer deconstruction. Johnson’s work helps to fill this important gap in fundamental knowledge while providing advances of technological significance.”

If the right kinds of degradable monomers can be found for other types of polymerization reactions, this approach could be used to make degradable versions of other thermoset materials, such as acrylics, epoxies, silicones, or vulcanized rubber, Johnson says.

The researchers are now hoping to form a company to license and commercialize the technology.

Patrick Casey, a new product consultant at SP Insight and a mentor with MIT’s Deshpande Center for Technological Innovation, has been working with Johnson and Shieh to evaluate the technology, including performing some preliminary economic modeling and secondary market research.

“We have discussed this technology with some leading industry players, who tell us it promises to be good for stakeholders throughout the value chain,” Casey says. “Parts fabricators get a stream of low-cost recycled materials; equipment manufacturers, such as automotive companies, can meet their sustainability objectives; and recyclers get a new revenue stream from thermoset plastics. The consumers see a cost saving, and all of us get a cleaner environment.”

The research was funded by the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health.

This article is reprinted with permission of MIT News, http://news.mit.edu.

 

Editor’s note: Earlier this summer, researchers at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland announced that they had developed a process to recycle thermoset plastics that is solvent-assisted. Known as “vitrimerization,” it is said to transform the thermoset plastic into a new class of materials known as vitrimer polymers, which can be reformed and reprocessed.

 

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Source: Recycling Today
Chemists make tough plastics recyclable
<![CDATA[Thermoset plastics, which include epoxies, polyurethanes and rubber used for tires, are found in many products that have to be durable and heat-resistant, such as cars or electrical appliances. One drawback to these materials is that they typically cannot be easily recycled or broken down after use because the chemical bonds holding them together are stronger than those found in other materials, such as thermoplastics.MIT chemists have now developed a way to modify thermoset plastics with a chemical linker that makes the materials much easier to break down, but still allows them to retain the mechanical strength that makes them so useful.In a study appearing July 22 in Nature, the researchers showed that they could produce a degradable version of a thermoset plastic called pDCPD, break it down into a powder and use the powder to create more pDCPD. They also proposed a theoretical model suggesting that their approach could be applicable to a wide range of plastics and other polymers, such as rubber.“This work unveils a fundamental design principle that we believe is general to any kind of thermoset with this basic architecture,” says Jeremiah Johnson, a professor of chemistry at MIT and the senior author of the study.Peyton Shieh,…

Carolina Recycling Association

Scientists Discover New Material That Could Capture 90% of CO2 Emitted from Industrial Sources

Scientists from ExxonMobil, University of California, Berkeley, and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory have discovered a new material that could capture more than 90% of CO2 emitted from industrial sources.

The post Scientists Discover New Material That Could Capture 90% of CO2 Emitted from Industrial Sources appeared first on Environment + Energy Leader.

Environment + Energy Leader

Report finds that plastic flow into oceans will triple by 2040 without immediate action

Report finds that plastic flow into oceans will triple by 2040 without immediate action
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New research by Pew Charitable Trusts, Philadelphia, and Systemiq, London, in the foundation for a new report, “Breaking the Plastic Wave: A comprehensive assessment of pathways towards stopping ocean plastic pollution.”

The report details the immediate actions needed to curb the amount of plastic waste entering the world’s oceans.

Winnie Lau, who has a doctorate in oceanography, with Pew who has spent years working in ocean conservation, worked on this research. She says it’s time to act for the sake of our planet.

“I think we all know the problem is bad, but we don’t fully appreciate how bad it could get,” Lau says. “So having these numbers, I think, really opens up the dialogue to have an honest, open debate about what we’re choosing.”

Without action, this research says the plastic entering the oceans will grow from 11 million metric tons to 29 million metric tons over the next two decades. Since plastic in oceans never biodegrades, the amount would weigh nearly 600 million tons, about the same as 3 million blue whales.

The research used a model to quantify the flow of plastic and determine the best ways to reduce it

Lau says this report highlights some of the ways to fix the issue that is realistic and still impactful. Current measures in place by the industry and governments will only reduce plastic in the ocean by about 7 percent.

Through this research, eight measures were found that can reduce plastic in oceans by 80 percent, including reducing plastic production and consumption, using paper instead of plastic where available, expanding waste collection in low-income countries and increasing recycling.

When it comes to recycling, the report offers a few solutions. Redesigning plastic packaging to either be plastic-free or only have 1 layer of plastic. Replacing single-use products like water bottles and plastic bags with items that can be reused. Refilling is another suggestion from this report. More subscription services that can refill plastic bottles instead of dispensing new ones.

The report also talks about goals of doubling of mechanical recycling capacity globally; scaling up collection rates in middle- and low-income countries; and reducing scrap exports to countries with low plastic scrap collection volumes of their own.

The American Chemistry Council (ACC), Washington, D.C., responded to the report, saying it agrees with the urgent need to invest in waste management infrastructure and reduce the use of unnecessary plastics.

ACC says according to a 2016 report prepared by Trucost (in collaboration with ACC), “replacing plastics in packaging and consumer products with alternative materials could raise environmental costs nearly fourfold, including through significant increases in greenhouse gas emissions.” 

America’s plastic makers are also looking to 2040, setting a goal for all plastic packaging used in the United States to be reused, recycled or recovered, ACC says. 

“I think 10, 15 years ago, the recognition that this was a problem was not as pervasive as it is today,” Lau says. Now that more people are aware, she says we are now at a good point to make conscious decisions to solve the problem.

Lau says it’s essential to solve this problem at scale. This is not something that can, or should, be fixed overnight. She says this report helps to show what areas need more focus immediately and what can be more long-term solutions.

“If everyone does put in 100 percent effort, I do think we’re on track to ending plastic pollution going into the ocean, into the environment,” Lau says. “I would say if society, if governments, businesses really do put their hearts and minds behind it, we can get to what we’re calling near-zero plastic pollution in the ocean.”

Going forward, she says even if people start their efforts today, the problem will get worse before it gets better. But she says that doesn’t mean we should wait, because the problem isn’t going away.

While this sounds like a costly mission to take on, not acting will actually cost more in the long run. If current trends continue, fixing this issue in 20 years will cost governments and the public $ 70 billion, according to the report.  

If people only take one thing away from this report, she says she hopes that it’s that the future of our planet is entirely in ours hands.

The Pew Charitable Trusts, founded in 1948, is a nonprofit, nongovernmental organization with the mission to serve the public interest by "improving public policy, informing the public, and invigorating civic life."

Systemiq is a systems change company that partners with business, finance, policymakers and civil society to make economic systems truly sustainable. 

To read that full report, click here.

 

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Source: Recycling Today
Report finds that plastic flow into oceans will triple by 2040 without immediate action
<![CDATA[New research by Pew Charitable Trusts, Philadelphia, and Systemiq, London, in the foundation for a new report, “Breaking the Plastic Wave: A comprehensive assessment of pathways towards stopping ocean plastic pollution.”The report details the immediate actions needed to curb the amount of plastic waste entering the world’s oceans. Winnie Lau, who has a doctorate in oceanography, with Pew who has spent years working in ocean conservation, worked on this research. She says it’s time to act for the sake of our planet. “I think we all know the problem is bad, but we don’t fully appreciate how bad it could get,” Lau says. “So having these numbers, I think, really opens up the dialogue to have an honest, open debate about what we’re choosing.”Without action, this research says the plastic entering the oceans will grow from 11 million metric tons to 29 million metric tons over the next two decades. Since plastic in oceans never biodegrades, the amount would weigh nearly 600 million tons, about the same as 3 million blue whales. The research used a model to quantify the flow of plastic and determine the best ways to reduce itLau says this report highlights some of the ways to…

Carolina Recycling Association