The fourth annual Plasticity Forum in Cascais, Portugal, brought together more than 80 business and industry officials, sustainability experts, plastic producers and users, innovators and government representatives to discuss innovative solutions to the growing plastic problem facing our land and marine environments. This year’s forum which took place for the first time in Europe, included companies that are leading the way in plastic recycling and transforming plastic waste into revenue streams.
A new report on Plastic-to-Fuel by the Ocean Recovery Alliance and the American Chemistry Council points out the potential for plastic-to-fuel technologies to deliver economic and environmental benefits to communities around the world. The report shows which opportunities this new technology offers in terms of plastic waste reduction. Another example are bricks made of hard-to-recycle plastic waste material which are stronger than cement and can be used in building construction. The introduced solutions also included plastic made from algae, which can also be deployed along with the fish farming industry.
According to a study by a team of researchers at the University of California which was published in the Science journal in February 2015, a growing amount of plastics is finding its way into the waterways of the world. “By linking worldwide data on solid waste, population density, and economic status, we estimated the mass of land-based plastic waste entering the ocean. We calculate that 275 million metric tons (MT) of plastic waste was generated in 192 coastal countries in 2010, with 4.8 to 12.7 million MT entering the ocean”, state the scientists in their report. “Population size and the quality of waste management systems largely determine which countries contribute the greatest mass of uncaptured waste available to become plastic marine debris. Without waste management infrastructure improvements, the cumulative quantity of plastic waste available to enter the ocean from land is predicted to increase by an order of magnitude by 2025.”
At the Plasticity Forum, innovators, entrepreneurs, industry leaders, brand managers, and designers presented concepts to reduce the problems of waste in the communities, waters and the ocean. A new Net Benefit Analysis report by a number of Plasticity participant companies will show the broad economic, social and financial impacts of making decisions related to waste reduction, new design, material use, packaging changes and use of increased recycled content. According to Doug Woodring, founder of the Plasticity Forum, plastic should be managed and recovered as a resource by “scalable innovations in plastic that save money; use of new materials; designing for sustainability; and solutions for a world where plastic is used, but without its current footprint.”
Photo © epSos.de, Water Pollution with Trash Disposal of Waste at the Garbage Beach, CC BY 2.0