- Aasavari Joshi
Businesses Can Support Plastic Recovery and Recycling
According to data from 2019, 353 million tons of plastic are estimated to be produced annually, of which two-thirds are dumped as plastic waste after less than five years of use. Further investigation reveals that there are disparities in the production, consumption, and disposal of plastic worldwide, which leads to disparities in the management demands for plastic waste. In general, dry recyclables make up 34.5% and food and green waste 53% of total waste produced in low-income countries. In middle to high-income countries, the equivalent numbers are 56% and 32%, respectively.
Companies are urged to take appropriate action for their direct and indirect effects on the environment as we come to a greater understanding of how businesses impact communities and the environment. The rising rate of plastic usage and waste production is primarily the result of large corporations. Notwithstanding, businesses can offer a way to uphold social justice while also preserving the environment. Beyond mere appearances, real corporate social responsibility demands action. Companies must consider all steps and activities involved in their processes, from the sourcing of their raw materials and other supply chain activities to how their end-of-life goods are disposed of. Such action requires ongoing monitoring and significant adjustments to current procedures.
Many industries use recycled materials as a standard requirement, and some businesses have set ambitious objectives of using 50–100% recycled material in their products. However, a very low portion of the plastics produced by such companies is collected by these same companies at the end of the plastics' lifetime. In that context, informal waste pickers play an important role as they gather recyclables like PET plastic bottles, which affect coastal towns and pollute the oceans.
In addition, companies concentrating solely on promoting the collection and recycling of high-value plastics are unbalancing the system because of their market power. Low-value (mainly single-use) post-consumer plastic waste does not get effectively recycled. For vulnerable areas with minimal waste management, this causes severe environmental issues. Unfortunately, plastic bags and bottles, styrofoam, fishing nets, clothing, and shoes, which constitute types of low-value plastics, are not collected or recycled.
"We rapidly learnt that if you want the industry to change, you can't just go and beg the stakeholders to innovate and update their systems," says André Vanyi-Robin, CEO and founder of Plastiks. André also states that we must make it possible for companies to profit by having positive environmental effects so that they will be motivated to protect the environment on a financial level. Regarding such financial aspects, for the first time, waste management innovation has been made possible by NFTs, the safe and unchangeable certificate of ownership in the blockchain. When recovery projects sell plastic waste to recycling companies to be turned into new products, this digital asset now represents an invoice that is issued by the recovery project organisation.