Abstract

Recycling was once considered the obvious solution to the excessive amount of new (or virgin) plastic produced each year. This is no longer realistic. Global recycling capacity simply cannot keep up with the taking, making and wasting of natural resources.

Growing mountains of plastic waste are accumulating in the poorest countries as affluent nations such as the UK ship their recycling overseas. But some nations are importing far more plastic waste than they can possibly recycle.

The recycling process itself also creates problems. A new report by Greenpeace and the International Pollutants Elimination Network has revealed how plastics which are made with or come into contact with toxic chemicals, such as flame retardants, can contaminate the recycling process by spreading these toxins through subsequent batches of plastic waste. Another recent study showed that recycling facilities can release hundreds of tonnes of microplastics into the environment each year.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages4
Specialist publicationThe Conversation
Publication statusPublished - 30 May 2023

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