One man’s trash is another man’s treasure: sustainable ideas for plastic

Plastic waste takes centuries to decompose, but innovators are finding new ways for plastic to take on a new life, instead of being thrown away.
Plastic waste facts

Plastic is one of the most useful human inventions in history; it’s lighter than glass or metal, is washable, mouldable and strong. 

From toys to healthcare, kitchenware to sports, it’s difficult to imagine planet Earth without it, yet plastic was only invented in 1907.

Single-use plastics, like straws and shopping bags, are used for a few minutes, then discarded – taking hundreds of years to decompose.

But change is coming; Australian teenager, Angeline Arora, has created a bioplastic which is made out of prawns and biodegrades in 33 days. Not suitable for vegans.

In addition to climate change, humanity is faced with what to do with the growing number of once-used plastic clogging up the world.

Instead of letting items rot away, these creators have found alternative methods for creating useful items, without at a cost to the planet…

The war on plastic waste
  • This week, CleanTech News reported on Indian startup, ReCube, which is taking on the “disease” of plastic waste, by offering accessible solutions. 
  • Another innovative Indian, Prashant Lingam, has found a similar solution for the high volume of single-use plastic waste plaguing Hyderabad, by employing locals to select suitable waste from rubbish pits and grinding it down ready to mould. The homes Lingam was able to manufacture were too expensive for most locals to afford, but Lingam proposed to the city council his pedestrian walkways, constructed from millions of minced up plastic bags. 
  • Although sadly now closed, EcoDomum was a startup based in Mexico, that collected plastic waste, minced it down into shards and moulded them back together to use as the building blocks in creating affordable homes.

With such startups and innovators as these, the war on plastic waste looks like one humanity might win. 

Instead of governments dumping plastic waste in the ocean or people chucking their empty bottle out of the car window, some are thinking out of the -plastic- box and finding solutions where humanity can live with the waste, in a way which doesn’t not harm the earth or the sea

The future of housing for planet earth

With the human population growing year on year and affordable, comfortable housing becoming less available, is it possible to design low-cost homes which help the planet, by vacuuming up discarded plastic?

But by 2100, the global population is set to decline down from 8bn, which will leave more concrete homes empty and available at lower prices.

However, on the fringes of scientific speculation, some believe that the climate crisis will have left much of Earth uninhabitable by 2100 and some humans will be living off-planet by the end of the century. So perhaps recycled plastic will be a cheap and accessible solution.

Helen Adams

Helen Adams is an Editor and Senior Writer for CleanTech News. A keen journalist, Helen developed an appreciation for the need for change in the battle against climate change after travelling and is passionate to communicate this through her work at CleanTech News. Now studying for her NCTJ Journalism MA, Helen wants to champion clean developments using her writing. Presently, Helen is developing her data journalism, video-making and podcasting skills which she is looking forward to incorporating into her role as Editor.