In a very short time span, plastic has become an integral part of our daily lives. It is a safe, cheap, and efficient material that can be used to create everything and anything.
But the growing demand for plastic products and the inability to implement efficient waste management systems have increasingly led to a plastic crisis that is destroying our ecosystems.
To face a problem of such a magnitude, sustainable recycling solutions need to be implemented. Below we have listed four of the most important reasons why recycling is so crucial.
1. To protect marine life
It is estimated that plastic waste represents 80% of all marine pollution. This phenomenon is highly detrimental to the survival of marine species.
The balance of marine ecosystems is key to the good functioning of our planet. The oceans are the Earth’s biggest natural carbon sink. Planktons, corals, fish, algae, and large mammals play a vital role in carbon absorption.
Overfishing and the demise of marine species due to plastic pollution are disrupting the equilibrium of the oceans and the Earth’s carbon cycle; Research shows that plastic pollution can interfere with the ocean’s biological pump, hence disrupting its ability to absorb carbon.
These disturbing facts call for the implementation of solutions that work in practice.
Keeping plastic out of the oceans is not an option; it is vital to the survival of marine species and important for the future of life on Earth.
The solution: transitioning towards a circular economy for plastics.
With our upcycling solution, at #tide, we aspire to bring long-lasting change in the plastics industry.
2. To produce less CO2 emissions
In 2019, the footprint of plastic production and incineration amounted to about 850 million tons of CO2.That’s the equivalent of 850 million flights from Frankfurt to New York.
Recycling and remanufacturing of plastic waste produces between 30% and 80% less carbon emissions than original manufacturing processes. #tide’s rPET, for example, is 5x more eco-friendly than virgin plastic.
The reduction of carbon emissions is crucial to fight global warming and prevent the perish of marine species such as coral reefs.
3. To save fossil resources
More than 99% of the plastic is produced from fossil fuels.
The resources needed to create virgin plastic are finite and depleting at a fast pace. Research shows that at the current production rate, Europe’s fossil reserves would be consumed by 2031.
Currently, only 9% of the world’s plastic is recycled. This means that there is more than enough material on hand to produce plastic products without drawing from fossil resources.
While plastic consumption is expected to nearly double by 2050, there is an urgent need for the current plastics economy paradigm to shift towards a circular model.
#tide ocean material: no virgin plastic!
From the start, it was crucial for us at #tide to create a raw material devoid of virgin plastic. Our goal is to keep plastic out of the oceans and in the material cycle.
In addition, we use renewable energy for our upcycling process whenever it is possible and offset all the carbon emissions connected to our logistics efforts through a Swiss Foundation.
4. To transition towards a circular economy for plastics
The take-make-waste linear economic system is not only inhumane and disastrous for the environment, but it is also highly economically inefficient; A study conducted by the Ellen McArthur Foundation sheds light on the fact that 95% of the value of plastic packaging material gets lost in the economy; That’s USD 80-120 billion every year.
Keeping what already exists in a closed-loop system would benefit life on Earth on many levels. It would notably:
Protect ecosystems in and around the oceans
Reduce the world’s carbon balance sheet
Radically reduce the inflow of waste on landfills
Drastically slow down the depletion of fossil resources
Improve society’s quality of life
The implementation of a circular economy for plastics is a necessary step to protect the environment in the long-term. But it’s going to take a lot of effort.
Such a systemic change necessitates an ideological shift backed up with solid policy.
An important part of the European Green Deal’s policy initiatives aims exactly at that with the Circular Economy Action Plan (CEAP). Adopted in 2020, the CEAP analyses the potential of materials such as plastic to be circular and set principles towards that end. Some of these include:
Enabling re-manufacturing and high-quality recycling;
Restricting single-use and countering premature obsolescence;
Mobilizing the potential of digitization of product information, including solutions such as digital passports, tagging and watermarks;
Developing for the first time rules on measuring recycled content in products.
At #tide, we are very happy to witness that more and more of our partners start thinking about the implementation of circular solutions at the design phase of their projects.
How can you make a difference?
On a micro level
Including sustainability at the heart of one’s lifestyle is a good way to start making a difference.
For that, one can start by:
Separating waste at home based on local recommendations
Using as many reusable items as possible in one’s daily life (e.g., jars, coffee mugs etc.)
Buying dry food in bulk
Purchasing products containing recycled materials
Reducing packaging to the maximum
Participating in clean-ups close to your area
On a macro level
If you represent an organization and want to contribute to the protection of the environment, you can support businesses and initiatives that truly want to do good.
At #tide, for example, we launched the “Road to 1 Billion Bottles” program. It gives organizations and individuals the possibility to make a contribution for the oceans by helping us prevent plastic bottles from entering the oceans. The program is comprised of several levels of impact, starting at 1 million plastic bottles.
What’s more, the initiative does not only allow third parties to protect marine life and support circular designs, but it also contributes to reducing poverty and improving the quality of life of disadvantaged communities.
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