US citizens alone throw away 100 billion plastic bags every year. That’s 520 per consumer. The good news? Recyclers are constantly finding new ways to improve operations and increase plastics recycling rates.
It seems that nowadays plastic waste is all around us. Sure, it can be easy to focus on all that is going wrong. But that would be a disservice to recyclers and tech providers around the world. That’s why Recycling International is dedicating the next issue to plastics recycling.
A new landscape?
Cutting-edge recycling systems are being developed to tackle the growing volume of plastics. This includes anything from rigorious washing, baling and shredding to hi-tech sorting, and more. Also gaining momentum are recycled content products.
The fact is; plastics production is one of the main industries that will drive global oil demand to 2050, so reveals the International Energy Agency (IEA). Less than 10% of the world’s oil is used to create plastic products annually. And yet, growth in this industry is strong enough to offset slower consumption of fuel in the transport sector.
Global demand for petrochemical feedstock accounted for 12 million barrels per day. IEA believes that this figure will grow to almost 18 million barrels per day in 2050.
‘Although substantial increases in recycling and efforts to curb single-use plastics take place – especially led by Europe, Japan and Korea – these efforts will be far outweighed by the sharp increase in developing economies of plastic consumption,’ IEA argues. Based on recent calculations, it reports recycling could hit around 5% of high-value chemical demand.
It is also interesting to note that fossil fuels still represent 99% of the plastics raw material base, although there is a growing interest in the use of biomass as a feedstock. In fact, the global production of bio-plastics reached 2.1 million tonnes last year.
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