The environment under pressure
The pressing problem of dealing with plastic waste is often forcing companies to use less than ideal methods to discard it. As a result, less than 10% of global plastic packaging waste is effectively recycled and the remaining is either buried, burnt, or in some cases, lost in the natural environment. At Recycling Technologies, we started from here and developed a recycling system that is not only able to stem the flow but is also environmentally beneficial.
Plastic has a significant role to play for a sustainable future. Global production has exceeded 300Mt pa, and this is expected to double in the next 20 years. The Ellen MacArthur Foundation with McKinsey at the World Economic Forum reported in the Global Plastic Packaging Roadmap, that only 14% of plastic packaging is collected for recycling with just 10% actually recycled. The rest, End-of-Life Plastic, goes to landfill (40%), incineration (14%), or shockingly, leaks into the environment (32%).
The vast majority of plastic is still disposed of by incineration or landfill. Worryingly, the report also points out that in excess of 8Mt of plastic enters the oceans each year. In a business-as-usual scenario it estimates that by 2025 there will be 1t of plastic for every 3t of fish and by 2050 more plastic than fish! The EU commission believes that plastic waste washed away from landfills accounts for around 80% of the plastic in the marine environment (UNEP, 2005).
Our opportunity to clean up
Today’s plastic items tend to be too complex for mechanical recycling alone, where the use of laminates, films and additives presents further challenges.
Recycling Technologies’ chemical process is designed to integrate traditional mechanical recycling activities in order to tackle these hard-to-recycle plastic waste types. The combination of mechanical and chemical recycling systems will effectively increase current recycling rates to 90%.
Extended Producer Responsibility
Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) for packaging is a policy approach that extends the producer’s responsibility for a product beyond their current scope, to include the management of their product’s packaging after the product has been used by consumers. EPR policies shift the waste management responsibility from local governments to producers. This policy pushes producers to also take environmental consideration into account when designing their products.
Currently, significant End-of-Life Plastic is processed at Materials Recovery Facilities (MRFs), Anaerobic Digestion (AD) plants and Plastic Recovery Facilities (PRFs). It is then baled, transported and disposed of in landfill or Energy from Waste (EfW) plants, in the UK or overseas. On top of the cost associated with baling and transportation, waste producers have to pay gate fees and landfill tax. There is pressure on these facilities from a European, National and Regional Government level to meet recycling targets; by positioning an RT7000 at these facilities, substantial quantities of End-of-Life Plastic waste otherwise destined for landfill or incineration, can now be recycled, contributing to meeting recycling targets.