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What is the use of living, if it be not to strive for noble causes and to make this muddled world a better place for those who will live in it after we are gone.
~ Sir Winston Churchill

RESTCo's Plastic Pollution Solution Path

At RESTCo, we have been wrestling with plastic pollution as a crucial global problem for a while. We're not alone, but we have studied what others have tried, and have seen what works and what does not. As a result, we have developed a path to trying to reduce the problems caused by plastic waste. No coincidence, it draws on the 3 Rs: reduce, reuse, recycle - but goes a bit further. We present it here in case anyone wants to dine from this menu.

1) Addressing future plastic pollution production

  1. Education programs on the hazards and consequences of plastic pollution, and encouraging better behaviours (e.g. reusable cups and cutlery)
  2. Deposit-return systems – funded by plastic producers, not taxpayers
  3. Effective, easy-to-access plastic capture programs as a default
  4. Fines for plastic pollution beyond littering
  5. Place a tariff on exporting plastic waste outside national borders
  6. If a bounty program is implemented, place a tariff on plastic waste imports
  7. Funds from plastic waste tariffs should go to a fund dedicated to plastic waste countermeasures
  8. Place a 2% tariff on all virgin plastic material imported into the country to fund the payouts under the bounty program (importers can get their money back via their plastic waste recovery programs when materials are reused or delivered to the bounty depots)
  9. Require plastic producers to show a credible, funded cradle-to-grave cycle for any new plastic product being proposed for use within the political jurisdiction, with penalties for non-compliance sufficient to encourage compliance
  10. Laundry fibre catchers Our prototype

2) Removing existing plastic pollution from the environment

  1. Target high density pollution zones first
    Plastic pollution travels through the air, water, soil, and industrialized transport systems
  2. Avoid glitzy approaches which are not very effective (despite media coverage)
  3. Bounty programs on plastic pollution turned into depots which do not quality under deposit-return. Include in education programs. Pose as a possible fundraiser for community organizations.
  4. Require ENGOs that fund-raise donations off existing plastic pollution (e.g. images of existing plastic pollution) to show how the funds they raise are used to remove existing plastic pollution, e.g. organizing bounty collection days and publishing how much material these efforts have removed from the environment.
  5. Evaluate new technologies for plastic pollution removal
  6. Where new technologies are seen to effectively remove plastic pollution, acquire and implement them (e.g. trashwheels)

3) Recycling of recovered plastic waste

  1. Sorting and streaming by downstream application
  2. Storage of plastic waste with no current destination
  3. Leverage long-life property of plastic in low-value, low-strength, durable items (e.g., plastic buckets, sign-boards, laundry baskets, cosmetic plastic 'lumber', disposable pen barrels, disposable razor handles and blade cartridges, laser printer toner cartridges, 3D printing filament, bio-waste containers for needles and non-infectious blood-stained material)
  4. Potential for using sealed plastic bottles as secondary flotation material for boats, buoys, rafts, etc. possibly enclosed in closed cell foam ‘bricks’ or billets, reducing the amount of foam required
  5. Make reusable mesh collection bags for plastic waste and distribute for free for bringing plastic bounty to depots, including lining collection bins specific to waste plastic items, where those bags are made from recycled plastic waste
  6. Fund innovation to deal with intractable plastic waste streams
  7. Explore the potential for making ‘mini-barges’ for plastic waste collection boats out of recycled plastic
  8. Subsidize use of plastic waste to encourage using it in preference to virgin petrochemicals

4) Disposal of remaining plastic waste

  1. Use waste plastic for encapsulation of hazardous waste
  2. Landfilling
  3. Incineration with energy recovery and carbon capture (e.g. medical biohazard waste)

If you have thoughts about the list above, or additions, please contact us.

The Persistent Plastic Problems

The Putative Solutions to Persistent Plastic Pollution

Things That Don't Work

Things That Do Work

The RESTCo Vision of Resolving Persistent Plastic Pollution

Types of Plastic
The Science of Plastic Pollution
Media Items on Plastic Pollution
RESTCo's Plastic Pollution Solution Path
Some Interesting Approaches
Things That Don't Work
Things That Do Work
De-plasticizing the Ocean (2017 RESTCo 3-pager)
Removing microplastic from shoreline/beach (demo)
RESTCo Plastic Pollution Solution
Capturing Micro- and Nano-plastics from the Waste Stream
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