Nzambi Matee got tired of waiting for a solution to all the plastic waste she saw, so she created a company to deal with it. The material engineer opened a factory in Kenya where they turn plastics which can’t be recycled (with traditional methods) into bricks. She designed a concoction of hard plastics and sand to create a solid brick which has a comparable price to stone bricks. This is a neat solution to a global problem, her one factory has processed 20 tones of plastics since 2017!
“Our product is almost five to seven times stronger than concrete,” said Matee, the founder of Nairobi-based Gjenge Makers, which transforms plastic waste into durable building materials.
“There is that waste they cannot process anymore; they cannot recycle. That is what we get,” Matee said, strolling past sacks of plastic waste.
Matee gets the waste from packaging factories for free, although she pays for the plastic she gets from other recyclers.
A materials company in Berlin wants to build the world using carbon taken our of the air – making it the first carbon-negative materials manufacture. Made of Air has sunglasses on the market and provides cladding material for buildings all made from a tried and tested method of capturing air based carbon, they then apply their unique method to make the carbon durable enough in these other settings. For every tone of plastic-like material they create they store about two tonnes of co2.
Over the next year, the company is ramping up its production capacity by 100 times to sequester 2,000 tonnes of CO2e each year.
Made of Air is a non-toxic bioplastic made from biochar. This charcoal-like material is almost pure carbon and is made by burning biomass such as forestry offcuts and secondary agricultural materials without oxygen.
Biochar has been produced for centuries and is increasingly being used as a fertiliser as well as a way of sequestering carbon in the soil.
Made of Air mixes biochar with a binder made from sugar cane to create a material that can be melted and moulded like a regular thermoplastic.
The advertising around plastics highlights how recyclable it is, but in reality plastics are a pollutant that barely get recycled in a meaningful way (this is why the 3Rs are in a particular order: reduce, reuse, recycle). Plastics come in all sorts of densities, colours, and strength, but are traditionally made using petroleum. The source of most plastics is unsustainable and the waste generated by plastics after use is equally unsustainable. In fact, the waste produced by plastics has led Canada to categorize plastics as toxic!
By declaring plastics toxic more rules and regulations will need to be followed to ensure that the damage done to the plant (and people) are limited.
A 2020 government science assessment found ample evidence that plastic harms the environment, choking seabirds, cetaceans and other wildlife. The findings form the basis of the government’s decision, as substances can be considered toxic under CEPA if they harm the environment and biodiversity, human health, or both.
In October 2020, ECCC released a proposal to deal with the problem. Under the proposed rules, Canada will ban six single-use plastic items, like straws and six-pack rings, create incentives for companies to use recycled plastic, and force plastic producers to pay for recycling.
The Canadian government announced plans this week to ban all single-use plastics by 2021. This is a great step in protecting the environment from the wastefulness of stars and plastic bags. The Canadian federal plan is to try to get manufactures of the plastic items to foot the bill and not consumers, this way it’s the companies causing the problem paying for the damages. Let’s hope even more countries join in on the ban on wasteful plastics.
Canada’s move follows one by the European Parliament, which voted earlier this year to ban several single-use plastic products, and recent disputes with the Philippines and Malaysia over Canadian waste shipped to them.
Less than 10% of plastic used in Canada gets recycled, and Canadians will throw away an estimated C$11 billion ($8.3 billion) worth of plastic materials each year by 2030 without a change in course, the government said in a statement.
Canada may require manufacturers to use a set amount of recycled content, the government said. Also, federal and provincial authorities will work together so that companies, rather than just municipalities, take more responsibility for the recycling process.
Everyone knows the harm plastics are bringing to the world, especially to marine animals and waterways. In an effort to reduce the harm done by plastics New York state is banning single use plastic bags. This is a great step due to the sheer size of their population and will hopefully pace the way for more states to follow (California already banned them). Way to go New York!
The plan would have an additional element allowing counties to opt in to a 5-cent fee on paper bags, revenue that would go to the state’s Environmental Protection Fund as well as a separate fund to buy reusable bags for consumers.
In a statement released late Thursday afternoon, Mr. Cuomo said that “these bags have blighted our environment and clogged our waterways,” adding that the plan agreed to in Albany would be a way to “protect our natural resources for future generations of New Yorkers.”