Every year, over 26 million tonnes of plastic is dumped into our oceans. With technology and environmental issues both on the rise, it makes sense to use the advancement of one to repair the issues of the other. Here, I will discuss 5 companies which are tackling our environmental issues and the tools they have adopted for their purpose.
Origin Materials, today’s leaders in furan chemistry have changed the core ingredients of plastic bottles to extinguish the need for petroleum-based, non- recyclable sources. Instead, they use the materials like sawdust, cardboard and angel’s tears, allowing up to 80% of a plastic bottle’s components to be renewed compared to 30% in normal bottles. After raising $40 million in their second round of funding, they have also brought Nestle and Danone on as investors as well as strategic partners. Petroleum-based materials also have large fluctuations in prices, causing uncertainty for profits of companies such as coca cola who heavily use the product. The new alternative is a lot more stable in terms of pricing and therefore does not just help the environment but it is helping other economic issues.
Agilyx has developed technology which is able to fully recycle polystyrene, a key material for plastic cups. The process originally turned the waste into a crude oil, but now they convert it into styrene monomer, a chemical used to create several plastic products. Yet another case where we can apply the saying one man’s waste is another man’s treasure.
Saperatec is tackling arguably the trickiest issue to overcome in this field – sorting mixed materials. Saperatec has developed highly specialised machinery, which are known for reducing surface tension. The technology makes its way between the tightly laminated layers of the material, separating the individual materials for recycling. During their process consists of no incineration and boasts a high standard of 100% purity of raw materials. This system has proved to be very efficient as it speeds up and enhances the process and hopefully will continue to do so.
Bioplastech employs bacterias to transforms non-degradable plastic into a type of polyester which is biodegradable. This is then used to help produce many adhesive products – they are the first and only company to manufacture biodegradable adhesives. Founded in Dublin, they are constantly investing in research to enhance their methods. They aim to focus on green technologies and so now the company is working on developing a method using natural materials. They plan to keep operations in Ireland to help with local employment – another purpose that they are commended for.
Lonely Whale is an incubator for courageous ideas that drive impactful change on behalf of our ocean. Inspired by the power of community to create the change we need to ensure a healthy planet, we are working towards a new era of radical collaboration, together facilitating the creation of innovative ideas that push the boundary on current trends in technology, media and advocacy that positively impact the health of our ocean.
Recycling Technologies have built a machine that vaporizes plastics and petroleum-based products such as carpeting. The RT700 machine converts the plastics into a hydrocarbon product. The technology is mobile and could be installed on sites with limited infrastructure for waste, recycling and other sites. The machine has the capacity of processing 7,000 tons of plastics per year and they hope to have 1300 stations in operation by 2027 in attempt to reach their target production of 7 million tonnes of Plaxx.
The work of these companies gives a glimpse of hope for our long-term sustainability. The environmental issues arising from waste need to be tackled sooner rather than later and the work these companies are doing is certainly taking us in the right direction.