Do you want an ocean full of plastic bottles?
Or a chestful of money? Choose-
We know plastics are harmful.They are bad news .For sometime now it is rare to hear plastics associated with something good.Plastics clogging the ocean , animals eating plastics.Plastics are on the top 10 lists if not on the very top of things that cause environmental harm.So ,if we had a chance to recommend the first person who took up the first plastic bag, all those years ago what would we recommend him or her? Use plastics or not use plastics?.The answer is clear, most of us would recommend that person forget about plastics.If so, why are we still producing it? Why are we producing something that we wouldn’t recommend even to ourselves if we had a chance?
But we cannot wish away plastics that are here and now.Even if we stop today, what will we do with the plastics till now.And if we pause for a bit ,is plastics so bad?. Billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates and his Breakthrough energy coalition invested in a company that made low carbon plastics.This plastic is made of cellulosic sugars which is formed from biomass, compared with the usual plastic which is made of a polymer formed from petroleum products- the no 1 contributer to global warming.This plastic made from a process called Plantrose , shoots two birds in one shot, it does away with petroleum products thereby reducing emissions and saving the planet and it is also bio degradable ,meaning if you bury it in the soil contrary to usual expectations it will disintegrate and vanish , saving the planet again.
So even people like Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg who make up the Breakthrough energy coalition think plastic is worth enough to be here, the right plastic.Plastics from the Plantrose process and others have the same benefits of our old plastic. It is the same plastic, just updated for the 21-st century .But we have an opportunity here , what makes plastics desirable?
First, it is cheap, easily available.This is true for both old and new plastics, ofcourse the old plastic is cheaper than the new but on the whole we can agree plastics are cheap.The next point is that plastics are unusually durable, unusual in the sense that man made products normally don’t survive the calamities let forth by mother nature.Even a house would get run down by creepers and plants of you don’t maintain it .Renamatrix ,the company which uses the Plantrose process intends it’s plastics to be used in bottles,cans , food containers and adhesives. Now let’s look at waste plastics , that’s what we need. We can source it easily , it is cheap . And we don’t even have to pay money for it, we just need to ask the district administration to give the monthly plastic waste. Now combine this with the durability factor of plastic and we have a cheap easily available yet good material to create an amazing product . A product that utilizes plastic’s unique features to generate wealth.Now are we talking about hypothesises and concepts? absolutely not, we are talking about the amazing reality.
Nike, the sportswear giant uses Nike Flyknit to manufacture it’s shoe uppers. Flyknit is recycled polyester that is converted into high quality yarn. That’s right Nike turned plastic bottles into yarn.Through this Nike is making use of a significant amount of plastic that would have otherwise ended up in landfills and oceans and making profit while doing so. Adidas , another giant does something else , they’re actually turning plastic bottles into sports wear.They have teamed up with Parley, an organisation that advocates for cleaner oceans to collect plastics from ocean and give it something useful to do.In 2019,They aimed to make 11 million pairs of shoes from this ocean .They now aim to make all of its shoes and clothing from this ocean plastic by 2024.Recycled plastics in clothing and sportswear are just one way of how plastic is turned to wealth.
Recycled plastic granules are mixed with bitumen to lay roads.This process was invented by prof.Rajagopalan Vasudevan. These “plastic” roads have increased lifespan and have better resistance to the effects of rain and cold. For this reason this process is now used to lay roads all over India. The additional advantage being, a large amount of plastic is required for a small stretch of road, making this a real plastic eater and a planet saver. Prof.Vasudevan did not stop there ,in 2012 he created Plastone , an alternative to cement blocks. Plastone is composed of industrial waste and waste plastics. It is cheap and was tested to be better than the usual cement blocks , due to advantages like preventing water from penetrating the block.
These people and companies are taking plastic’s inherent disadvantages and giving it a smart twist to change the world , while getting paid for it. Using waste plastics and waste to create new products is at the heart of the concept of circular supply chain, wherein companies don’t discard waste but use it to make better products, waste becoming raw material, raw material becoming products, products becoming waste forming a circle, increasing profit, reducing the burden on mother earth.It seems we can make a chestful of money, while getting a cleaner ocean ,and that is the real wealth.