Putting recycled plastic to practical (re)use
What to do with all that plastic we consume? There's no easy solution to the alternatives before us: dumping vs. recycling, processing vs. burning, environmental care vs. commercial reality. We are just pleased to be rid of it. But what if there was more we could do?
Once its virgin use is done, plastic is an environmental hazard. But in its material composition lay its ongoing value. Put simply, the more we reuse our plastic, the more viable is the recycling process. That’s where the Pull-through Effect comes in: building demand for products made from plastic waste.
According to Mark Jacobsen, marketing manager at Replas, there is an over-supply of waste suitable for producing the most practical of products. This material predominantly goes offshore, much of it to be used as fuel in furnaces. “We get enquiries almost daily from organisations asking if we’ll take their plastic waste,” says Mark. It is fantastic that people want to take responsibility for their waste. "But unless there is demand for products made from the material, the process will be unsustainable."
Then of course there is the undeniable case for putting a finite resource taken from Mother Earth to functional use for service well into the future. “If we change those habits,” says Mark, “we have a solution for the waste generated.” That is the Pull-through Effect – more demand for the reuse of plastic and so more plastic usefully recycled.
Environmental protection concerns everyone and we all produce plastic waste. Whether individual or corporation, non-profit or local authority, if we commit to using and promoting products made from the waste we generate, we are increasing the Pull-through Effect, and creating a partnership of good environmental citizens. More demand equals more beneficial reuse equals more effective recycling.
The good news is that the Pull-through Effect is happening now. Organisations are increasingly turning to recycled plastic as they witness the benefits of legacy installations.
As the Soft Plastic Drop Off Recycling Initiative rolls out, the aim is to give over 70% of the population access to in-store bins within a 20km radius of the home or workplace. New Zealanders use over 1.6 billion plastic bags in the home every year. Replas can make a lot of great products with that!