Incredible amounts of plastic pollution and electronic waste poison the environment. Plastics can be found from places as diverse as remote islands and our own bodies. Plastics made from fossil fuels are directly linked to the climate crisis. Big Oil’s fossil capitalism is about shifting responsibility for plastics from companies to their customers, shifting responsibility for environmental degradation to consumers. Meanwhile, Big Oil is increasing its plastics production to offset the coming scenarios of fossil fuels becoming stranded. The technical problem with plastics is related to other industries, but technology can also be part of the solution.
Think of plastic pollution as an overflowing tub in your bathroom, said Josh Lepawsky, a professor at Memorial University of Newfoundland who maps the international movement of electronic waste. The Verge.
“If you got into it, probably the first thing you would do would be to turn off the tap – don’t take a bucket and a mop if you think the bucket and mop are recycling,” says Lepawsky. Closing the tap equals damping the production of plastic goods. Attempts to clean up the growing clutter will not solve the root of the problem. “That doesn’t mean don’t use a bucket and mop.” That’s not closing the faucet. “
Possible solutions to plastic poison
Plastic waste management technologies around the world are traditionally divided into 4 general categories: mechanical recycling, raw material recycling, energy recovery and landfilling.
What can be done to make already produced plastics more valuable?
Technical companies declare environmental statements about the incorporation of recycled materials. Is recycled plastic really an ecological investment?
- Microsoft is proud of its Ocean Plastic Mouse, made from recycled elements. However, its partner in this effort is Saudi Basic Industries Corporation (SABIC), a subsidiary of the oil company Saudi Aramco. The mouse shell is made of 20% recycled plastic, and any environmental gains could potentially be destroyed if the company sold 20% more mice, a pitfall that environmental economists describe as a “reflection effect” or “Jevon’s paradox.”
- Logitech supplies recycled plastic goods.
- Samsung boasts watch straps with recyclable and environmentally friendly materials such as apple peels.
Non-technology industries are also trying to reduce the amount of plastics in production: food packaging, fashion and toys. We hear about trends in which plastic bottles are turning into thin fibers used for carpets and fleece.
The quality of the plastic deteriorates with each use, so the goal of producing new plastic from the old – downcycling – is very difficult. It does not have to have strength or durability for 1: 1 conversion, so for new plastic products there must be a difference between fresh plastics. Degraded plastic more often ends up in a recycling center or landfill or is incinerated.
GAO emphasizes the possibility of chemical recycling as an alternative or complementary technology to current mechanical recycling processes of sorting and crushing. Chemical recycling technologies use heat, chemical reactions, or both to recycle used plastics into new plastic, fuel, or other chemicals – creating a closed loop where plastics can be recycled indefinitely, helping to reduce landfill dependency. GAO recognizes that chemical recycling technologies face barriers such as high start-up costs and few incentives to invest in innovation.
Dow Chemical offers a strategic mitigation strategy where it tests plastic road structures. The intention is to pave roads with polymer modified asphalt (PMA) using recycled plastic. For example, waste plastics, such as plastic bags, disposable cups and PET bottles, are collected from landfills as an important component of building materials. The plastics are then finely ground before being blended into Dow Elvaloy Ret asphalt treatment technology. The problem with this approach – and I’m no scientist – is that Dow’s asphalt treatment technology is filled with chemicals, many of which are made from fossil fuels. How far is this plastic-paved road from petrochemical-based plastics?
What can be done is to produce an item that does not require high quality plastics or chemically treated recycled plastics? An extended view of the plastics problem frames it around plastics and sustainability rather than waste itself.
Bioplastics such as PLA, PHA, PHB, PHV, PHH, and starch polymers are more commonly referred to as plastic alternatives.
Sustainable plastic waste management for developing countries may aim to turn plastic waste into resources. Experts say that a circular economy with a legislative approach and standards for plastic waste management can help reduce environmental externalities. It can also provide a secondary resource such as energy and materials through urban mining, in which waste plastics are transformed into potential anthropogenic resources. Both help to achieve the goal of sustainable development.
Duke University has set up an inventory of plastic pollution prevention and collection technologies. The inventory was created to help local governments, NGOs and other stakeholders identify technologies that can help fix outbreaks of plastics marine pollution. It contains 52 technologies that were developed on 20 July 2020 in order to either 1) prevent plastic pollution from entering the environment, or 2) collect existing plastic marine pollution. Inventory technologies can be searched based on remediation strategy (ie prevention or collection), plastic type (ie macroplasts, microplasts or macroplasts and microplastics) or inventory categories (eg washing balls, ships and wheels).
Enforcing technology companies to stop plastics
Consumers call Big Tech because of the damage they cause to the environment. Their product production contributes to air pollution, greenhouse gas emissions, waste and water consumption. Employees of Microsoft, Amazon, Google and other tech giants have published letters urging their companies to stop polluting the environment and to stop working with fossil fuel companies altogether.
Have you ever tried to contact Amazon and request that your order be shipped in paper or cardboard envelopes, not in plastic shipping envelopes? It’s a customer service nightmare with alleged help messages that lead to frustration without results. Aaarrgghh! You are not alone.
Since 2019, the Alliance for Plastic Waste Disposal has brought together more than 90 member companies, project partners, allies and supporters who are committed to disposing of plastic waste in the environment.
5 Since 2009, Gyres has completed 19 expeditions that have brought more than 300 civil scientists, executives, brands and celebrities to vortices, lakes and rivers to conduct direct research into plastic pollution.
The Plastic Pollution Coalition is a growing global alliance of more than 1,200 organizations, businesses and thought leaders in 75 countries working for a fairer and fairer world without plastic pollution and its toxic impact on people, animals, waterways, oceans and oceans. Environment.
2050: I Quit Plastic raises awareness of individual plastic pollution by asking participants to sign a pledge to renounce plastic water bottles, dishes, plastic bags and straws.
“We can’t recycle the way out of this problem – acute reduction of plastic products, recycled or not, is the solution,” said Max Liboiron, an associate professor of geography at Memorial University who studies plastic pollution. The Verge. “Even the production of new plastic items that use some of these ocean plastics as a raw material will lead to a net increase in plastic pollution.”
Perhaps engaging in advocacy from a group such as one or the other can have an impact. Let me know: it’s time to impose a moratorium on plastics production!
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