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Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Treehugger Tuesday


How the plastics industry is hijacking the circular economy
Lloyd Alter
April 19, 2019

What they are calling circular is a sham, just fantasy recycling so that they can maintain the status quo.

The Center for the Circular Economy at Closed Loop Partners recently produced a report, "Accelerating circular supply chains for plastic." The report "surveys the current landscape of technology providers that are offering solutions for waste plastics to be repurposed for a variety of safe and high-quality materials."

Currently we live in a linear economy where, according to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, we "take resources from the ground to make products, which we use, and, when we no longer want them, throw them away. Take-make-waste." Instead, in a circular economy, according to the foundation:

1. Design out waste and pollution

"Waste and pollution are not accidents, but the consequences made at the design stage, where 80 percent of environmental impacts are decided. By changing our mindset to view waste as a design flaw and harnessing new materials and technologies, we can ensure water and pollution are not created in the first place."

2. Keep products and materials in use

In a true circular economy, products are designed so that they can be reused, repaired and remanufactured. This is a sort of an upgrade of William McDonough & Michael Braungart's Cradle to Cradle, where products are designed so that they can be taken apart and reused, recycled, or composted.

3. Regenerate natural systems

"In nature, there is no concept of waste."

So let's return to the report, formally titled Accelerating circular supply chains for plastic, downloadable from Closed Loop Partners. In the introduction, the authors note:

Plastics are ubiquitous. Found in packaging, textiles, hardware, and consumer products, they offer performance at low cost, often with environmental benefit, for countless uses. Yet most plastic packaging and too many plastic products are eventually discarded after one use.

They then acknowledge that we do a terrible job at recycling them, recovering less than 10 percent of post consumer plastics, that demand is likely to triple by 2050, and that "to address the current challenges – and the current demand – transformational technologies that keep plastics in play are needed at scale." We know that recycling is broken and there is nowhere for the waste to go, so they have come up with this.

There are at least 60 technology providers developing innovative solutions to purify, decompose, or convert waste plastics into renewed raw materials. With these available technologies, there is a clear opportunity to build new infrastructure to transform markets. These solutions can also help to decrease the world’s reliance on fossil fuel extraction, lower landfill disposal costs for municipalities, and reduce marine pollution.

Read the entire, disturbing article here.

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