Where next for plastic?
Words: Lucy Siegle. Illustration: Brett Ryder
The environmental impact of plastic is a problem in search of urgent solutions. But as pathways to better production, usage and reclamation emerge, how do we make them count? And what does the future look like if we succeed? Environmental writer Lucy Siegle examines some of the ideas, technologies and opportunities on the frontlines of the plastic revolution.
Expect to learn:
The decade between 2002 to 2012 saw more plastic produced than any other time on Earth
An opportunity to re-engineer the whole system and reassess our relationship with plastic is appearing
Seeing the bigger picture
Any time you are using solutions that are not based on drilling for fossil fuels, you have the opportunity to dramatically reduce your CO2 burden
Seeking more sustainable solutions
How do we ensure that this shift in manufacturing continues in the long-term?
The legacy issue
We might ask ourselves what we are doing wrong. More importantly though, we have to also ask what we might already be doing right
Plugging the gap
This is plastic recycling at its highest level – there are no limitations to its application
Looking to nature
The race is now on to scour the globe in search of more enzymes that will devour plastics
If we accept that some plastics are embedded into modern supply chains, then it’s a good idea to focus on a solution for the percentage that slips the net
Which future do we choose?
Every solution has its place, but the important thing is that they all add up to a decisive shift
Neste's solution for plastics
Neste has developed a drop-in solution from renewable and recycled raw materials
that can be used on its own or in a blend to create plastic products of identical quality
to those made out of conventional raw materials based on virgin fossil oil.