With the rise of consumerism and production, plastic has become a big problem for mother nature. For an example, plastic bottles on average decompose after 450 years. Now just imagine how big of a problem it actually is when you realize that we have over 150 million metric tons of plastics in our oceans alone.
Almost every container in a shop is made out of plastic and to make things worse, most bags in these shops are still made out of plastic. But hopefully, this practice is going to be removed in the near future.
Ellen MacArthur’s plan
Ellen MacArthur is famously known for being the fastest person to circumnavigate the globe alone, this event took place in 2005. And for a long time, she is fighting against major ecological issues, ending up making a foundation in 2010 that would promote the use of renewable energy and reduced consumption of finite resources.
And with a successful mission so far, she even ended up joining with The Prince of Wales’s International Sustainability Unit in order to make a competition valued at 2 million dollars. The main goal of this competition is to make everyone thrive and achieve a design which could help with the removal of plastics in our oceans.
How do we recycle it?
Ellen mentioned that in the past 40 years, only 14% of the global supply of plastic packaging is getting recycled, saying that we need a radical change when it comes to this topic. Most of these plastic containers and packaging later get discarded into the ocean, which has a completely negative effect on sea life.
In order to prevent this, we need to both design and redesign objects which will help us with the removal or recycling of plastic. This is the main idea behind the competition, which is divided in two different challenges that offer 1 million dollars each.
This part of the competition will focus on small objects that are produced in high quantities but aren’t recycled enough due to mostly impractical economic reasons. Most of these are items like lids and wrappers, eliminating these kinds of items or making it easier to recycle them will prove to be beneficial.
The second part of this challenge is all about the material itself of most plastic containers and packaging. Most of these packages and containers are made out of plastic that is layered in multiple levels, which is afterward fused together.
This makes it very hard to recycle after the item is used, since you will also need to separate all these layers in order to recycle it. This is also economically impractical, so creating designs that will prevent the previously mentioned issues will greatly help us all.
These challenges and prizes are a part of an initiative called New Plastics Economy, which was created for the purpose of making a system where resources are recycled. Apart from that, another objective of theirs is to reduce the consumption of finite resources.