We generally do not perform well enough to recycle. We can say this especially when it comes to plastic recycling. Less than 10 percent of the plastic we use is recycled, and there is an estimated 100 million tons of plastic in the oceans worldwide. We currently have a linear economy where plastics are produced, used and disposed of. However, the goal of recycling innovation is to achieve a circular economy in which plastics are produced, used, reused, recycled and ultimately regenerated.
In this article, we cover some of the latest recycling innovations:
Making polypropylene more widely recyclable
John Layman, chief technologist and founding inventor of PureCycle Technologies, has developed a revolutionary process to remove color, odor and contaminants from polypropylene plastic waste and transform it into a malleable and pure resin that is the foundation of plastic products. Polypropylene, the second most used plastic in the world, is currently only 1% recycled. It is hoped that the innovative process developed by PureCycle will enable us to recycle much more of the material.
Developing plastic roads
The companies are now experimenting with a new strategy of melting plastic products, combining additives, and then using that mixture to pave roads. MacRebur is one of the leading companies in plastic road construction. By using only disposable plastics for their intended purpose, they contribute to reducing the carbon footprint.
With Ecobricks, empty plastic bottles are filled with clean, dried and disposable plastics and filled to the brim. This makes them durable and then reusable building blocks for building tables, beds, stages and even walls. For example, even a school from Ecobricks was built in South Africa.
Plastic made of wood
Finnish Technical Research Center VTT has created a material from agricultural and forest by-products that can be used for packaging products such as muesli, nuts, dried fruit and rice. Plastic alternatives made from these wood by-products are great at reducing the plastic consumption we have in the packaging industry.
3D Printing Street Furniture
Parts of recycled plastic products are used to 3D print street furniture such as benches. This has been done by companies like ‘The New Raw‘. But this is just one type of use of 3D printing with waste plastic. Consider how much more we can do with 3D printing, countless kinds of products can be produced.
Using magnets to make recyclable plastic a more effective packaging material
Aronax Technologies is a company in Spain that has found that using a magnetic additive to recyclable plastic can provide better air and moisture insulation; better air and moisture insulation makes plastic more suitable for protecting sensitive products such as coffee and medical products, while also making it possible to be recycled. The additive will give plastics much better properties at blocking the ingress of gases such as oxygen, but these additives can be identified and separated at the recycling stage.