Our waste is our resource-An initiative to turn all plastics bio-based

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Author: T. Nyman
Date: July 2019
Publisher: Gulf Publishing Co.
Document Type: Article
Length: 1,484 words
Lexile Measure: 1210L

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The vision is fully fossil-free plastics production. The transition is affordable and economically viable and will lead to a better understanding of the value of products, and even trash. Wherever we look, we see plastic trash; yet a lot of valuable raw material and energy has been used to produce it and distribute it. However, after use, the best thing humankind has come up with is to throw it out of the window or burn it (e.g., out of sight, out of mind).

It may seem like a crazy and/or megalomaniac idea, but fully fossil-free plastics production is viable and sustainable long-term. The entire global plastics production can turn bio-based by using bio-based feedstock systematically. This would be the largest transformation of the petrochemical industry ever.

At present, humans produce nearly 400 MMtpy of plastics. Within a few decades, the demand for goods and packaging made from plastics will triple to more than 1,000 MMtpy. This extraordinary increase is due to global population growth and the increasing wealth leading to a growing middle class.

The concept and initiative are extremely ambitious, but doable--when well planned and organized. It can be demonstrated that first, all plastics can be produced from bio-based feedstock in the future. Secondly, it can be very profitable, and, in the future, bioplastics can become cheaper than fossil plastics are today. Thirdly, the planet will save more than 1 Gt of carbon dioxide (C[O.sub.2]) every year when implementing this logic. Lastly, the entire transition can be financed.

A global plastics deposit scheme. The solution is rather simple. We see a piece of trash on the street and continue walking. We all walk past the 'money' on the street without giving a second thought to pick it up. If a $1 note would have been lying on the streets, it would more likely be picked up. All plastics have a value, even after use. Plastics can be recycled mechanically several times until the technical properties become so low, that it no longer works as plastic. After that, chemical recycling is still possible until eventually most of the original plastic is lost in energy production.

At present, plastics collected are incinerated to make four products: electricity, heat (even in excess), ash...

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Gale Document Number: GALE|A602105760