Can New Technologies Recycle the 90% of Plastics That Don’t Get Recycled?

Today’s recycling systems can recover some used plastics. But not anywhere near enough.

Updated 4/4/22; originally posted on 2/22/22

Today’s recycling systems can recover some used plastics. But not anywhere near enough.

That’s what makes burgeoning private investments in new recycling technologies so exciting. These technologies can dramatically increase the types and amount of plastics that can be recycled. Which reduces the need for fossil resources… and keeps plastics out of our environment.

And plastics makers are stepping up with significant investments and commitments.

It’s called advanced recycling. These technologies turn used solid plastics into their gas/liquid raw materials to be remade into “virgin” quality plastics for use in virtually any plastic product or packaging.

More info on Advanced Recycling from Insider here.

Plastics that once ended up in landfills and incinerators now can be remade and stay in use. Lightweight flexible packaging, foams, pouches, tubes, toys, and more can be remade and remain in our economy and out of our environment.

Want to see how it’s done? Check out this interactive feature from Insider that shows how a snack package can be remade using advanced recycling.

With proper support, these technologies can scale quickly, potentially doubling the plastics recycling rate in the U.S. and Canada by 2030, according to the Closed Loop Fund.

Over the past few years, more than $8.7 billion has been invested in plastic recycling, mostly in advanced technologies. That’s enough potential to divert 13.6 billion pounds of waste from landfills each year. In the U.S., major plastic makers are investing in advanced recycling, revising business models and production processes to offer plastics that have been remade using advanced recycling. In addition, multiple entrepreneurial recycling companies are deploying advanced technologies.

One of these advanced recycling companies is Braven Environmental. The team at Braven opened their doors to Insider Studios and shared their passion for plastics recycling and how advanced technologies work

These technologies are poised for rapid growth and can lead us down the path toward a circular economy in which used plastics are remade into new plastics that can be remade again and again.

Americans and consumer product companies are demanding more recycled plastics. Advanced recycling can deliver.

Congress can help. America’s plastic makers are calling on Congress to help accelerate progress toward a circular economy for plastics. Among other provisions, our 5 Actions for Sustainable Change calls for creating a modern regulatory system that enables rapid scaling of advanced recycling while continuing to grow mechanical recycling. This will help spur domestic development of these technologies… and rapidly increase our nation’s capacity to remake plastics.

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