Today, 40 years after the first recycling technology was introduced, only 14% plastics are recycled globally. In Europe, recycled plastic waste from packaging has increased 5% over 10 years; however, there are stil lover 5 trillion pieces of plastic currently sailing around in the ocean.
Obviously recycling is not going to fully solve our plastic problem, or any other resource efficiency issue. Even worse, as Alexandre Lemille, a circular value expert and resource efficiency advocate, wrote in a recent article:
Recycling, when possible, is technologically complicated, energy consuming and decreases the quality and functionality of the raw material. Many of the products we use on a daily basis, because of mixed textures, matter and colours, are not recyclable and practically designed for landfill or incineration (energy production). To combat this, a number of pioneers, including the Cradle2Cradle Innovation Institute, use more creative approaches and design thinking to create new strategies around reusable products, use of biodegradable natural materials, modular products and design for repairability.
While all of this is to be commended, a key aspect of moving towards a more sustainable future requires systemic behavioural change. A great example of a global movement to design a new Post-Disposable future for the Planet has been initiated by Disrupt Design and aims to activate and involve individuals, governments, and industry to rapidly redesign our polluting systems of production and consumption, turning the tide on the massive environmental and social burdens that disposability has led us to.
You may be feeling overwhelmed after learning that recycling is not a complete solution for some of Mother Nature’s toughest challenges, but rest assured, you can be a part of the solution. A zero-to-waste future is already being designed , and the zero-waste generation know this is the only way to save our Planet!