However, the sheer diversity of different plastic products remains to be a problem that is yet to be fully addressed. From the 1950s to 2015, the production of plastic products grew from virtually zero to about 350 million tons per year. While some varieties, especially the durable ones, can be regularly recycled alongside conventional plastics, others are viewed as contaminating materials and, as such, must be sent to landfill. To tackle plastic contamination, all recycling should be collected as loose, co-mingled material, to ensure that fewer plastic bags can enter the recycling stream in the first place. Dyed and pigmented plastics, for example, can be troubling for materials recovery facilities (MRFs) as they have a much lower market value. Even in countries with well-developed plastic recycling facilities, there are still technological limitations that prevent them from attaining higher recycling rates. Part of our investment discovery process at Loup is to identify large problems, define the problems in our structure of cost/convenience/moral, figure out the best way to solve the problem, then find the companies doing it., figure out the best way to solve the … For some types of recycling, this may be true -- the trade-off between new products and some forms of recycled plastic, for example, are questionable. Manufacturers who hope to ensure their post-consumer packaging can be properly recycled should consider the pigment and translucence of their bottles and containers. Plastic that is littered or blown out of waste bins makes its way into storm drains, streams and rivers. The term plastic is, in fact, a collective name for several hundred different kinds of material. In 2013, it was announced that revisions to the resin identification code would eliminate the use of the “chasing arrows” symbol in favor of an equilateral triangle, and some #7 plastics (or “Other” for miscellaneous resins) will have to identify the resin type in addition to the code. Our growing consumption of single-use plastic is evident in the form of ever-expanding landfills, as well as pollution on our sidewalks, along roadways and in natural ecosystems. This could help limit some of the confusion for consumers, especially as the new revisions continue to be adopted by manufacturers moving forward. The U.S. recycling industry is overwhelmed — it can't keep up with the plastic being churned out. Technology to help with plastic sorting continues to be developed. Saturating MRFs with non-recyclable plastics can increase overhead sorting costs (only to be sent to landfill anyway). Published Apr 22, 2015 3am EDT / 12am PDT / 8am BST / 9am CEST. In fact, many consumers have indicated that they are confused about which plastics they can and cannot recycle. Putting up a recycling facility requires a lot of capital and technical capability. I love diving into the latest and greatest in emerging technologies and seeing what they can do. Clear plastics are always preferred in the recycled materials market, and have the highest material value. One great hope is chemical recycling: turning … With consumers and the government outraged at the plastics crisis, the waste industry is scrambling to solve the problem. The subsidization is necessary, but it results in challenges with respect to how to effectively determine what should be recycled, and what should be dumped. However, by recycling… This is likely due to the fact that microplastics are often found in the gut or intestinal tract of animals – parts that humans typically do not eat. Tom Szaky is the founder and CEO of TerraCycle, the company recycling the non-recyclable; and Loop, the world’s first shopping system delivering products in reusable packaging. Most of it starts on the earth as garbage on our beaches, streets, and sidewalks, and is lowered into rain channels, rivers, rivers and rivers that lead to the ocean. Looking at the plastic production rates per country, China leads the pack by a huge margin at around 60 million tons. From the 1950s to the 1980s, plastics were either simply discarded into landfills or incinerated. Some groups have also proposed requiring brands to display product labels that show recycled content, hoping that consumer-driven demand can act as the incentive to use more recycled material. However, all these measures are moot if governments will not invest in the material recovery technologies. This corresponds to about 4600 million tons of accumulated plastic waste over the years. The Problem with Plastic Millions of tonnes of plastics are used in the UK each year. 3D Insider publishes news, tutorials, and reviews about the latest emerging tech. A major part of why some countries have failed to adapt higher plastic recycling rates is a lack of government support to the initiative in the form of policy. This is less of a concern when recycling rates are low (sending a lightweight pouch to landfill is better than sending a heavy rigid plastic with more mass), but once recycling rates start to increase, non-recyclable lightweight options make little sense from a sustainability perspective. We'd love to hear from you. Another issue is that not all plastic can be recycled. This also means that plastic cannot be recycled infinitely, unlike glass or metal. If plastic products were consistent in their resin composition, color, transparency, weight and size, we probably wouldn’t be having this conversation, as everything could be recycled together; this is more or less the case with aluminum, which enjoys the highest rates of global recycling. It all comes down to providing consumers with enough information to make the proper disposal choice for each component of the product or package. Legislation to support plastic recycling can range from outright banning of single-use plastics to setting required levels of recycled content in final goods. Plastic to be recycled needs to be clean and free from food residue. Its operations will also require huge operating costs in terms of power, manpower, and equipment maintenance. The peculiar thing about the plastic waste problem is the fact that just about every single person in the world knows about it and recognizes it. 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