When it comes to managing plastic waste, most of the conversation surrounds recyclable plastic. Recycling materials is the third best way to manage waste, according to the waste hierarchy, and the growing use of plastic worldwide has led to mass amounts of plastic waste that needs to be dealt with. On paper, recycling plastic seems to be the way to address plastic waste.
In reality, plastic isn’t as easy to recycle as it may at first seem. Less than 10% of plastics are recycled worldwide, even if they get collected and sorted. Contamination of plastic waste often renders recycled plastic unsuitable for use, and common types of plastic waste can only be recycled once before they are disposed of. This means that the vast majority of plastic waste ends up in landfills or abandoned in nature.
One way to solve this issue is to create a market for non-recyclable plastic waste. However, government entities across the world are more focused on legislation and incentives involving recyclable plastic waste. This means that corporations and private entities need to step up to create a non-recyclable plastic waste market so that plastic waste can be properly managed.
Here are some reasons why a non-recyclable plastic waste market is important and some ways such a market can be created.
Most plastic waste doesn’t get recycled, even if it’s recyclable. Recycling plastic is a complicated process that can easily result in unusable materials, and many plastics can only be recycled once. In fact, only about 30% of all plastic that has ever been produced is still in use. This means that 70% of all of the plastic everevery created has either been incinerated (12%), recycled (9%), or sent to a landfill or abandoned in nature (60%). In spite of this, there’s nearly no market for non-recyclable plastic waste.
Although waste collectors collect fair amounts of recyclable plastic waste that they sell to recycling companies, they leave non-recyclable plastics to degrade. Plastic degradation leads to microplastics that leak into the ground and waterways, and it can also cause diseases and long-term health issues for those who live around plastic waste. By only collecting recyclable plastic waste, we leave a massive amount of plastic waste in the environment. Something needs to be done about non-recyclable plastic waste as well, otherwise, waste collection is for nothing.
Creating a market for non-recyclable plastics will incentivize waste collectors to collect non-recyclable plastic waste alongside recyclable waste. Rather than leaving large portions of plastic waste in the environment simply because there’s no market for them, they will actually collect all waste that’s harmful to the environment and humanity.
Who bears the responsibility for creating a non-recyclable plastic market?
When it comes to sustainability, it’s long been established that all stakeholders—individuals, businesses, and governments—have some sort of responsibility to sustainability. If the world is going to see any significant change, everyone needs to have a role.
The consensus is now that producers bear the most responsibility for helping sustainability goals to be achieved. Businesses have the ability to influence business regulations, including those surrounding sustainability. They also drive innovation and create marketable ideas. Corporations, more than any other entity, have the power to enact great change quickly.
While the government will have an important role to play in creating legislation that incentivizes use of a non-recycling plastic waste market, and the private sector must also do their part by limiting their use of non-recycling plastics as well as collecting the non-recyclable waste, companies are in a unique position to create the non-recyclable plastic waste market and encourage its growth. Without such a market, the amount of mismanaged non-recyclable plastic waste will only grow, and the plastic waste problem will persist.
Creating a market for non-recyclable plastic
When creating a market for new innovations, history shows that many players need to be involved. According to Harvard Business Review, most innovations won’t gain traction until many companies have shown interest. It makes sense; innovations are risky, and companies want to ensure that they’re not the only ones going in.
If a market for non-recyclable plastic is to be created, we need strong examples of how it can be successful as well as support from multiple companies. We must all work together and take responsibility, educating consumers about the realities of plastic recycling and the dangers of non-recyclable plastic. And, we need to invest in research and innovation to create viable methods of monetizing non-recyclable plastic waste.
TONTOTON’s non-recyclable plastic waste market
TONTOTON was created as a way to focus on the non-recyclable plastic waste problem. We’ve found a way to monetize non-recyclable plastic waste, creating a market for this type of plastic waste. This means that waste collectors in communities where we work will no longer ignore non-recyclable plastic waste, and all types of plastic waste will be collected and properly disposed of.
We use a certified plastic credit system to purchase non-recyclable plastic waste from waste collectors. We also provide personal protective equipment, access to healthcare, and training to our waste collectors, offering further incentive to work with us.
We send the collected plastic waste to cement factories where it is converted into energy and raw materials. This is a process that results in zero waste, fully removing the plastic waste from the environment.
Our method works because of the market that we’ve created surrounding non-recyclable plastic waste. We are able to offer competitive wages to our waste collectors while simultaneously removing non-recyclable plastic from the environment in order to fully address the plastic waste problem.
Our corporate partners are also able to take responsibility for the plastic waste that they produce and consume while they strategize ways to minimize plastic waste within their companies. They understand the importance of businesses when it comes to achieving global sustainability goals, and TONTOTON offers a first step for them to start helping lead the way to a greener way of living.