It has now become normal to see plastics floating in our oceans, with a total of 269,000 tons of them in 2015. That number only accounts for what is seen on the surface – there are actually 5.25 trillion pieces of plastic debris in the ocean as of the same year. About four billion plastic microfibers per square kilometer are in the deep sea.
Much of the plastic pollution are discarded single-use packaging products, including cosmetics and food. Unilever, a Dutch-British transnational consumer goods company, has come to its senses and develops a new technology that recycles these kind of trash, which should prevent packaging from ending up in the oceans or landfill.
Source: The Inertia
Created in the Fraunhofer Institute for Process Engineering and Packaging IVV in Germany, the technology called CreaSolv Process has been adapted from a method used to separate brominated flame retardants from waste electrical and electronic equipment polymers, according to Unilever.
Essentially, what it does is recover the plastic from the sachet and use that to create new sachets for Unilever products. That creates a full circular economy approach.
“Billions of sachets are used once and just thrown away, all over the world, ending up in landfill or in our waterways and oceans,” says David Blanchard, Chief R&D Officer.
Source: Method Products
“At the start of this year we made a commitment to help solve this problem, developing new recycling technologies. We intend to make this tech open source and would hope to scale the technology with industry partners, so others – including our competitors – can use it,” he adds.
The move is part of the company’s Sustainable Living Plan. Unilever pledged that all of its plastic packaging is fully reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025. But in a nearer target in 2020, it already committed to reduce the weight of its packaging by one-third.
A pilot plant will be built in Indonesia, where 1.3 million tonnes of its 64 millions tonnes of annual wastes end up in the ocean. It will open later in 2017 “to test the long-term commercial viability of the technology.”
Dr. Andreas Mäurer, Department Head of Plastic Recycling at the Fraunhofer IVV, says, “With this innovative pilot plant we can, for the first time ever, recycle high-value polymers from dirty, post-consumer, multi-layer sachets.
“Our aim is to prove the economic profitability and environmental benefits of the CreaSolv Process. Our calculations indicate that we are able to recover six kilos of pure polymers with the same energy effort as the production of one kilo of virgin polymer.”