Plastic Waste to Build Better Lives.
The Covid-19 pandemic has caused a crisis in all fronts of our lives and global waste has been affected by it. An increase of plastic packaging from medical products used during the health crisis and the rise of buying online products due to lockdowns, along with concerns with the virus, has made people use single-use plastic. This has caused a surge of plastic waste that requires special attention.
Plastic waste management is one of the major environmental concerns and a huge challenge for both individuals recycling and the waste management industry, given its exponentially increase in the last decades. According to the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP), the world generates approximately 400 million tons per year, only an estimated 12% of the plastics produced are incinerated and an estimated 9% are recycled. However, great part of plastic waste is not biodegradable, so it is disposed either in landfills or released in the environment including the oceans. UNEP states that without meaningful action, plastic waste in aquatic ecosystems is expected to rise up to 29 million tons in 2040.
Now that we know that a large amount of plastic waste is covering our planet, the questions are: Which are the impacts of plastic pollution in the environment? What can we do to contribute to plastic waste management? What are the benefits of plastic waste management solutions?
Plastic pollution has negative impacts in the environment for different reasons:
- Large plastic items can cause entanglement of animals.
- Plastic debris can provoke entanglement of aquatic species, leading to starvation, suffocation, laceration, infection and reduce their reproduction.
- Microplastics can be confused as plankton, therefore eaten by marine species.
In addition, 4% of petrol and gas extracted are used as raw material for virgin plastic production, and between 3 and 4% to generate energy for its manufacture.
ALLCOT offers an innovative and comprehensive solution that promotes the 3R principle: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle of plastic waste through sustainable construction and creating formal jobs. This initiative is an alternative solution to manufacture plastic waste bricks to construct houses and involve informal collectors that suffer from the hardships of informal work and discrimination. The project pretends to create formal jobs for informal collectors with the collaboration of NGOs, so that they can work with formal recycling companies that provide raw materials and PET pellets. After collecting the plastic, formalized collectors manufacture plastic bricks and use them to build houses for low income communities. ALLCOT provides the technology to create plastic bricks directly on site, which promotes the capacity building of local communities and the importance of plastic waste management. With this technology, plastic waste can be reshaped into a new product.
Houses made out of plastic bricks improve their adaptation to climate change, as they reduce plastic pollution and provide a better shelter to climate change impacts (heat waves, flooding, etc.), with further benefits to communities.
This comprehensive solution has multiple benefits in different areas:
- Environmental: Manufacturing plastic blocks thorough this technology prevents 22 lbs. (10 kg) from being dispose in landfilled or incinerated. It also meets different standard criteria regarding safety and toxicity, such as Greenguard and Greenguard Gold. Furthermore, it does not need additional glues or additives, and avoids greenhouse gas emissions and material depletion from manufacturing of clay bricks.
- Social: Plastic bricks manufacturing generate formal jobs in local communities under poverty and social exclusion conditions, by involving informal plastic collectors in the initiative from the beginning.
- Economic: A surplus of plastic bricks manufactured during the project could be sell to construction companies and workers, and the profits would go to formalized collectors.
At the same time, the economic conditions of collectors are being improved under a fair salary due to the project.
This initiative not only contributes to plastic waste management, but to the following Sustainable Development Goals (SGD):