It is not difficult to imagine that many thousands of years from now, when archaeologists who confront the remains of our time and have to name it in some way, will choose the “Age of Plastics”. Today, the production of this type of material eats 6% of the world’s oil consumption, but it is only the beginning. In 30 years, it is expected to be around 20%.
Despite all the initiatives we do not have an easy way to completely retire plastic from modern life. Hundreds of companies and laboratories are looking for substitutes, other researchers have asked another question: can we make it less harmful to the environment?
If we can't get rid of the plastics, let's make them a little better!
Although we usually focus on emissions from transport and energy production, the truth is that to meet global climate goals, we have to give a twist to the economy of plastic so that it does not emit (so many) gases of the greenhouse effect. The objective is clear, the way there is something much more complex
Many strategies have been proposed to mitigate these emissions – from decarbonizing the plastics supply chain to applying “circular technologies” that reuse fossil carbon feedstocks, such as chemical and mechanical recycling however, with the technology we have these processes consume too much energy and are too expensive.
The article posted by Raoul Meys in science.org points to a major change that may be underway. Raoul Meys’ research team have collected more than 400 technological data sets (a representative sample of the life cycle of more than 90% of the world’s plastics) to demonstrate that, with current technology, combining recycling, the use of biomass, and carbon sequestration, net-zero emission plastics could be achieved with lower energy demand and lower operating costs than current production technologies.
In numbers, the authors estimate that it would be a savings of 288 billion dollars by 2050.