Plastic recycling is on everyone’s mind, as society realises that it has do better in terms of recycling plastic. In this perspectives piece, Head of Commodities Ben Dudley reviews the potential options.
Approximately 8 million tonnes of plastic dumped in our ocean’s each year
In the last couple of years, there have been huge improvements in society’s desire to recycle and this has continued with the waste sector investing in Infrastructure to recycle plastic waste.
The amount of plastic packaging collected for recycling is expected to increase by 45% by 2035
Although its great to see improvements, globally only 9% of all plastic produced to date has been recycled.
In many cases, plastic is still perceived to be a never-ending material. Yes, it can and should be recycled several times in its life-span, but there comes a time when the plastic material cannot go through the recycling process and therefore it has no use in its current form and needs to be disposed of.
Oil demand for plastic is 9 million barrels per day, set to rise to 23 million barrels per day by 2060
Current methods of disposal include:
- Landfill, where plastic could take up to 100 years to degrade depending on the plastic stream.
- The plastic is burned as a fuel to create energy, either heat or power.
As global demand increases for plastic, it will create a huge increase in end-of-life plastic. This additional volume will put pressure of the shrinking number of landfills across the globe. The burning of plastic into fuel has a huge impact on carbon emissions generated. Neither are the long-term solution!!
Incineration of plastic waste via energy to waste generates 38% more carbon emissions than burning fuel.
The long-term solution is chemical recycling of end-of-life plastic waste. The process is called Pyrolysis. Pyrolysis is fundamentally a process for upcycling of end-of-life plastic, transforming it into low carbon produced products such as Diesel, Gasoline and Oil. The oil can be used to make several products, including new plastic, creating a circular economy for plastic.
The industry is embryonic in terms of scaling the technology into commercial plants and requires further investigation and considerable investment, but this is necessary in order to find a solution to plastic that can no longer be recycled. Totus is working in conjunction with the developers of these commercial plants to provide the feedstock required both in the UK and Europe.
If you have any questions on the process or what do discuss feedstock, please do not hesitate in contact me.