A Call to Action: Tackling the Plastic Apocalypse
The problem of plastic waste has become a global issue that demands immediate attention. Over the past 70 years, plastic production has grown 180 times, and only 50 percent of plastic waste ends up in landfills, according to research by German environmentalists. The rest of the waste, millions of tons of plastic, remains unrecycled, and a significant part of it ends up in our oceans and river waters. The Giant Garbage Patch, twice the size of Germany, is a critical piece of evidence that we are heading towards an environmental disaster. To avoid this situation, we need to find a systematic approach involving governments, large corporations, and individuals.
The Urgent Need to Limit Plastic Production
One possible solution to the problem of plastic waste is to significantly limit its production. This requires a significant shift to biodegradable and environmentally friendly plastics. However, the challenge is immediate. If we do not start taking action today, scientists predict that 50 kilograms of plastic waste will accumulate on every meter of the coastline in two decades. This is why significant steps in limiting plastic production are necessary.
Successful Plastic Recycling Examples
Apart from limiting plastic production, another solution to the plastic waste problem is efficient processing of plastic for secondary use. Remanufacturing plastic containers and household utensils is a common example. However, several examples of successful plastic recycling can guide us. Over the past few years, companies such as Nike, Adidas, and H&M have been making clothing and footwear from recycled plastic waste. In the United States, plastic waste is used to build bridges, while in Holland, recycled plastic builds roads that do not melt in the sun.
Plastic Recycling for Social Benefit
Recycling plastic for social benefit is another creative solution. In Singapore, for example, recycled plastic is smelted into panels to build pre-fabricated homes for refugees, fire victims, and victims of natural disasters. In Kenya, recycled plastic is used to produce building bricks that are five to seven times more durable than concrete. An entrepreneur from Nairobi, Zombie Mati, is the brain behind the unique idea of using plastic bricks. Mati’s company uses only a particular type of plastic – high-density polyethylene – for which bottles for milk and shampoo are made, and sand.
The Future of Plastic Recycling
Zombie Mati has reused roughly 20 tons of plastic waste since her startup’s founding in 2017, cementing her as one of Kenya’s most critical environmentalists. The company’s production capacity is currently at 1500 bricks daily and plans to triple its capacity shortly. Matzi’s plan is an encouraging piece of evidence that recycling plastic waste can contribute significantly to environmental conservation. However, such a local success is hardly sufficient to solve the plastic apocalypse. Governments of different countries and large corporations that produce plastic must find a systematic solution to the looming disaster.
The world’s population is in danger of becoming bogged down in plastic waste if we do not tackle the issue systematically. Limiting plastic production, efficient recycling, and recycling for social benefit are some possible solutions to the pressing problem. As much as Zombie Mati’s success is a critical example of how to reuse plastic waste, it’s only the first step. The government of different countries and large corporations must work together to find a lasting solution. The plastic apocalypse is upon us, and we must act before it’s too late.