There’s about 78 million tons of plastic waste produced each year that is non-recyclable, non-reusable, already light-weighted and unavoidable. The next feasible option we have to “cycle” this material at its highest level possible is in energy recovery. Fortunately, the vast majority of this material is already entering a waste-to-energy facility and there’s no need for infrastructure or behavioral changes. For this to happen, these applications simply need to be designed conducive for anaerobic environments.
The recovery of Landfill Gas-to-Energy provides predictable results and a better value proposition for single-cycle applications than any other disposal method we have available today. As we embark on creating a “Circular Economy” we need to harness the resources available to us. The idea is to recoup, or recover, the greatest value possible within a products life-cycle, including disposal. Plastics cannot be recycled perpetually, it is not an end-of-life solution. In order to get plastics out of the environment and into the grid, it falls on producers, the brands and manufactures, to ensure its applications are designed to comply with this disposal method.
A collaborative approach is vital, yet there are still some companies, even ones who’ve pledged their commitment to creating a circular economy, that scoff at the idea. Unwilling to design for disposal and dismissing the returns of alternative energy, they stay committed to a recurrent single strategy for nearly half a century. Is it because consumers won’t understand? I doubt that, but using consumer comprehension as a litmus test in harnessing innovation may not be the best idea. Besides, as a consumer myself, I’d prefer an honest approach that provides intrinsic benefits, and less of my own involvement, to being misled that anything’s really being done at all.