We, once again, entered a new year but we have not entirely solved an old-time problem with plastic pollution. As years go by, it has become more and more difficult to find the best way to get rid of it, and chemical waste in every corner of the world is becoming too alarming that is has been tagged as an environmental emergency.
News has been circulating on social media and the internet, in general, about how polluted the oceans are and how our friends underneath are suffering and losing their lives to humanity’s carelessness on plastic waste. Although there are movements that are taking this matter seriously, there are also people who never care about it. And, like what we always say, if we do not solve this issue today, the next generation may never get to see and experience nature in their lifetime because of our ignorance towards the welfare of our environment.
A plastic’s lifespan reaches to a thousand years. Mostly, plastics and other wastes are thrown in the ocean due to ignorance or to hide it from the eyes of people hunting those who cannot speak out for themselves. It is ironic how little people care about the weight dumping trash in the ocean creates and how it destroys what we have today and that we might lose all of these one days. Accordingly, even the beaches in most places in the world where no one has ever gone before are already covered in plastics. It has been estimated that 30 years from now, the weight of plastics in the ocean might outnumber the weight of fishes that we have.
When will the consumption of plastic ever end? Will recycling “really” help solve this alarming issue?
Many suggest that the only way to end plastic waste is to stop the production of it and switch to a friendlier alternative. This practice has been starting in other countries who are making an effort to reduce plastic usage while others are implementing policies on ‘single-use’ of plastics. Only humanity can solve this issue.
For those who do not know, China has been ‘accepting’ other countries’ plastic waste for recycling but are complaining about the weight of it, detailing those plastics have evolved into something too difficult to recycle and break down. There has been news that the country will soon fail in a few years in recycling plastics since there’s too much of it to handle—they also need cooperation from each person in the world.
In the UK, studies on a potential technological solution to remove the plastic in the world and convert it to something useful and environment-friendly and valuable commenced. An idea that has been studied by Professor Thomas Maschmeyer through his company, Licella. For more than ten years, he still calls it an exciting way to solve the issue of plastic waste. Located in New South Wales Central Coast, his company owns the world’s only large-scale catalytic hydrothermal reactor (Cat-HTR) plant.
The Cat-HTR way of eliminating used plastic is through recycling mixed plastics, often referred to as plastics that are contaminated or end-of-life plastics. These are wastes that are too strong and difficult to break down. Sadly, it has already made up 50 percent of the earth’s plastic waste commonly burned or thrown wherever it is “convenient.” By breaking down its bonds, it will be easier to recycle plastic. This method is a new approach to transforming waste plastic in a significant way.
For Maschmeyer, the solution to recycle end-of-life plastics is through the Cat-HTR process where it converts them into products that are saleable like lubrication oils, waxes, fuels, and gases, simply turning plastic waste into monetary value so other people will add value to it. His idea of plastic recycling has given other industries interest in following his work and investing more on it.
However, in our small little ways, we can help our planet by being responsible human beings. Be educated on how to reduce wastes adequately; be mindful of your surroundings. Remember, we only have one life and one planet to live in our lifetime. Together, we can end this issue and live peacefully along with nature (without plastics).