Skip navigation
Share via:

Pitch

Recycling is based off the protocol developed in the 1980s. Times have changed.


Description

Summary

Many items can be recycled but lack the labeling or the means to do so by both consumers and industry. It is confident that markets exist for such products at the confluence of multiple metropolitan population centers.

In doing so the recycling industry can experience growth from the adoption of novelty materials.


Category of the action

Reducing emissions from waste management


What actions do you propose?

While recycling has been a major success over the past 3 decades and has become a major industry in its own right, several problems persist.

One problem is the lack of incorporation of several plastics in a different configuration that have increased in large amounts: Acrylonitrile butadiene-styrene (ABS) and polycarbonate (PC) whose usage has increased greatly with the explosion of technological hardware, plexiglass or acrylic (PMMA), amorphous or laminated thin-film polypropylene (TFPP), and polyvinylidene chloride (PVDC), the latter two from food packaging. There is a minor market for other plastics in the future such as biodegradable polylactic acid (PLA) and these should be taken into consideration too. Furthermore, there remains work to be done in identifying thermoplastic polyurethane (TPPU) from thermosetting polyurethane (TSPU) and differentiating the expanded, low-density forms of polypropylene and polystyrene (EPP and EPS, respectively). These are several examples but there could be more.

Also on plastics, several applications routinely fail to be properly identified: optical disks, electronic hardware casings, disposable eating utensils to name a few. There must be an industry requirement to label such products to educate and bring awarenes to the public about the option to recycle such products.

Another problem is e-waste, in the form of fluorescent lamps, cathode ray tubes, LCDs, cellphones, batteries, computers, and integrated circuits. These products are often disposed of in a landfill where they leach heavy metals into the surrounding environment. Recycling markets are located overseas, where inappropriate procedures are conducted usually for the sole purpose of extracting precious metals at great environmental risk and detriment.

The third is biodegradable compost. This is generally not well-received commingled with non-biodegradable waste, but has market potential.


Who will take these actions?

1. Government legislators

2. Industry organizations.


Where will these actions be taken?

Center of major urban areas within a 200-mile radius.


What are other key benefits?

Jobs created, more revenue in the recycling industry.

Less waste in the landfill.

More time for landfills to be filled to capacity.

Resource depletion from virgin sources reduced, along with associated environmental costs for those.


How much will emissions be reduced or sequestered vs. business as usual levels?

From incineration, a popular method of trash disposal, the CO2 avoided from the recycling of certain plastics will be the actual weight of the diverted plastic.

For electronic waste, there is a minor impact from the raw material production savings needed for making electronics.

For biodegradable waste, there is a minor or no impact from composting the material which tends to preserve more carbon than outright incineration. However, if it is buried, the difference tends to be negligible as burial would also result in a similar state of decomposition.


What are the proposal’s costs?

50 - 100 million dollars (?)


Time line


Related proposals


References