A timely article from Chris Cheeseman, Professor of Materials Resources Engineering at Imperial College London and an Associate of the Grantham Institute. He stands up for the versatility of the plastics that have made them such a central part of modern life, but have also resulted in them ending up in places they shouldn’t.
Part of the challenge is to improve recycling rates. Not only in the UK but also amongst the 2 billion people in the world for whom there is no waste collection system. But it is also for designers, product developers and materials engineers to do more to design for recycling and for entrepreneurs to find ways to make more from waste in moves towards a circular economy.
Public concern about plastic pollution, partly catalysed by Blue Planet II, coupled with China’s decision to ban imports of low grade plastic waste for recycling, has created a ‘golden opportunity’ for change that needs to be grasped. Politicians have responded by promising regulations to reduce plastic waste and some companies have announced how they are reducing single use plastic in their products. But, Chris argues, the biggest impact will come from innovations in materials and design that helps create a more circular economy. He also argues that we desperately need to support the development of proper waste management in developing countries.
Read the full article ‘Don’t blame plastic, blame poor waste management‘ (19 February 2018), which contains lots more evidence and references, on the Grantham Institute web site.
WasteAidUK is a charity working to address waste management problems in developing countries and the challenges of the circular economy across the world.
Find out more about the Grantham Institute’s work on Plastic pollution in the ocean.