Episode 26 supported by:
We walk a lot about plastic waste on The Better Business Show and the issue gets lots of attention on this show and in the wider environmental media because, on the whole, it's nasty stuff. The chemical building blocks that make plastics so versatile are the same components that harm people and the environment.
On average, 300 million tons of plastic are produced around the globe each year. Of this, 50% is for disposable applications such as packaging.
And plastics manufacture makes up 4.6% of the annual petroleum consumption in the U.S., using roughly 331 million barrels per year. None of this energy is recovered when plastics are disposed of in landfills, and very little is recovered when plastic waste is incinerated.
In 2008, 34 million tons of plastic was disposed in the United States. Of this, 86% ended up in landfills.
Yes, biodegradable plastics are coming and recycling infrastructure is improving, but there are big problems with plastic - from the way it is made, to the way it is disposed of.
So, what if there was a different way of making plastics.
What if there was a different way of making plastics that used pollution as the raw material. so rather than being something that causes environmental problems, the production of plastic actually helps to take nasty greenhouse gases out of the atmosphere.
Well, there is. This week I was delighted to speak with the founder and CEO of New Light Technologies Mark Herrema who explained how his company is capturing carbon emissions, combining it with oxygen and creating plastics that are being used everywhere.
Last week we kicked off our Big Ideas for a Sustainable Future segment of the show with the good folks at Terrafiniti to celebrate the launch of a new brand new series of e-books which offer thoughts, provocations and big ideas for how we might create a sustainable future on a planet of 9 billion people.
So, Joss is back this week for Part 2 in the series as Joss Tantram, a founding partner of Terrafiniti, shares with us his best big ideas – all taken from this brilliant series of new books.
The Towards 9 Billion ebook series is out now and can be downloaded for free at the Terrafiniti website.