What is the future of plastic recycling? According to recent reports, the U.S. generates about 40 million tons of plastic waste yearly. About 85% goes to landfills and about 10% is incinerated. Only the remaining 5% is recycled. A few years ago, recycling in the U.S. was almost double that amount. Plastic recycling is declining and plastic pollution on the Earth’s surface and within its oceans s growing. This should be of grave concern to everyone.
On the positive side, researchers at the Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden have developed a new recycling method that claims to replace the fossil raw materials used in new plastic production with carbon atoms from mixed waste. If proven, this technique has the potential to eliminate the climate impact of plastic and may rid the air of excess carbon dioxide. Since fossil fuels are the main cause of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, a transition away from their use would be a very good start to limiting the increasing global temperature.
Also, legislation is beginning to address the issue. As an example, California passed legislation in 2022, requiring that by Jan. 1, 2028, at least 30% of plastic items sold, distributed, or imported into the state be recyclable. By 2032, that number rises to 65%. The legislation also calls for a 25% reduction in single-use plastic waste by 2032 and provides the governing agency with the authority to increase that percentage if the amount of plastic in the economy and waste stream grows. In the case of expanded polystyrene, that number needs to reach 25% by 2025. If the number isn’t hit, the ubiquitous, hard-to-recycle foamy plastic will be banned. It is anticipated that other states will follow suit. Our outlook is “cautiously optimistic”.
For over 25 years, Lee Enterprises Consulting has been assisting companies and investors with issues relating to sustainability, bioenergy, biomaterials and chemicals, biotechnologies, and feedstocks. With over 150 consultants, we certainly have experts in plastics and recycling, and we have the diverse expertise and geographical reach to assist in virtually any bioeconomy project worldwide. These seasoned professionals average over 30 years each in their industry experience. Our ability to assemble these professionals into multidisciplinary teams allows us to fully integrate the technical, scientific, and regulatory aspects of a project, and combine it with years of hands-on experience. Take a look at our experts and the services we provide. You will note that most our experts are also available for ancillary engagements and advice, for specialty engagements like serving as expert witnesses in litigation matters. A good overview of our group is found in this video. Call us at 1+ (501) 833-8511 or email us for more information.
See also: Recycling Waste Plastics https://lee-enterprises.com/recycling-waste-plastics/