23rd July 2019

Expert Advice: Plastics are not all bad…!!

Written by Tim Hourahine from TCG – view their member profile here

Despite the recent media furore with the “War on Plastics”, the campaign would have been hugely more beneficial to have highlighted the awareness to ensure plastics return into the recycling and re-processing chain. Plastics should widely be viewed as a “resource” that can be recovered. Indicatively, it becomes a nuisance and pollution problem through laziness and our inherent throw away culture..!!

Diverse and innovative organisations are creating change to the way plastic is viewed and plastic waste is handled. Collecting plastics should be paramount at their ‘end-of-life’, through strategic planning, communication, consumer awareness campaigns, raising business awareness, documentary films, education, clean-up campaigns, scientific research, entrepreneurial innovation and most importantly political legislation. This will produce an enhanced sustainable approach that provides for a more circular economy.

Some organisations, such as Thermal Compaction Group provide innovative recycling solutions that not only densify plastics such as polystyrene and polypropylene waste at source but also return them into the supply chain for use as new products. What is significant is that so many other organisations are also doing whatever work they can to similar ends which contribute to this grand challenge.
This innovative creativity to re-engineer plastics prevents the Earth’s core resources from being drained to make new, virgin polymers and plastics.

Furthermore, the ultimate aim should be to increase the understanding of the plastic pollution problems so that sustainable solutions are quickly applied and innovations implemented. Media focus on awareness of prevention and collecting controls will empower people and organisations to take appropriate action to stop plastic pollution and work with the abundance of plastic we have at our disposal, so that it can be re-used many times over. Solutions that have already been in place for some years and more innovations coming into this market regularly.

Collecting and recycling plastic products compliantly also keeps them out of landfills and allows the plastics to be reused in manufacturing new products. Recycling 1 ton of plastic saves 7.4 cubic yards of landfill space. And let’s face it, a lot of plastic ends up directly in the environment, breaking down into tiny pieces, polluting our soil and water, and contributing to the ocean’s great garbage patchesas highlighted by Sir David Attenborough and other environmental programmes.

Recycling and re-processing plastics reduces the amount of energy and resources, such as water, petroleum, natural gas, and coal needed to create plastic. So, lets raise awareness and work with what we have rather than a ‘knee jerk’ reaction in condemning it.