Imagine a future without marine plastic pollution. It starts with making more plastics recyclable.
here is growing awareness and concern about marine plastic pollution—and there’s an increasing determination to put an end to it. One part of the solution is Project STOP, a joint initiative started in 2017 by SYSTEMIQ and Borealis to help stop the flow of plastics and other materials into the world’s rivers and oceans. Another part of the solution is to further develop infrastructure to collect and recycle plastic packaging, especially in the world’s fast-developing nations. Of course, that also requires making plastic goods, particularly plastic packaging, more recyclable to
support a circular economy that puts more recycled plastics into new products—and less into places where they don’t belong. Initiatives like Project STOP will test and develop new solutions with the potential to seriously slow—and eventually eliminate—the flow of plastics into the world’s oceans. Together with work to develop more recycling and recovery technologies and more recyclable products, we can realize the promise of a circular economy. Below are some emerging trends that are yielding promising results.
More applications for recycled plastic material.
The more flexible, the smaller the footprint.
The plastics industry is investing in research and development centered around technology for creating “clean” recycled polyethylene and incorporating it into finished products with performance comparable to 100% virgin plastic.
Replacing traditional materials like cans, glass and cardboard with flexible plastic packaging significantly reduces packaging volume, reducing the carbon footprint during production and shipping.
Simpler is better for the environment.
One-piece closures for easier recyclability.
Many food packages are made with a mix of materials, making them difficult to recycle. Companies are now working with their suppliers to eliminate foil, nylon and other materials and move to single-material, recyclable flexible film structures.
Another important trend is the shift from two-piece, mixed-material closures to one-piece, recyclable closures in beverage and other containers.
The bottom line: Recyclable plastic packaging has value as recyclate, adding an incentive to implement new waste collection and recycling systems that can go a long way toward keeping plastics out of the world’s oceans.
What about food waste? Advances in package integrity— improved barrier, toughness and seal —in polyethylene-based flexible film structures help improve package integrity and extend shelf life. That means less food is spoiled, which reduces landfill waste and even more importantly, helps to address world hunger. It’s a win-win.