The benefits of recycling in the fight against the climate crisis


Written by Encarnación Hernández, Climate Change Mitigation Consultant


We are currently facing a critical global situation in terms of consumption of plastics and their subsequent recycling. It is expected that by next year, plastic production will increase to 350 million tons. If this rhythm and the current “use and discard” consumption model are maintained, this level could increase to 619 million tons in 2030.

The process of decomposing plastic material produces the emission of two greenhouse gases with a high global warming potential (methane and ethylene) and a very harmful effect on human health. For this reason, in recent years various initiatives have been developed in the field of plastic waste reduction and recycling. Their main objective is to reduce dependence on existing conventional resources. However, there are other solutions in the market contributing to the manufacture of different products from recycled plastics. This is a great innovation in the recycling market.

ALLCOT Group, a company specialized in environmental solutions in the fight against climate change, is working on an innovative project based on the construction of sustainable housing from recycled plastic.

The main objective is the recycling of plastic waste to give it a second life, improving the performance of both recycling and waste recovery. The population is involved in the collection of plastic, mainly bottles, from which blocks and bricks are manufactured and used for the construction of houses or other types of buildings. These materials are flexible and flame retardant light and they display high insulation capacity. These characteristics make them ideal to face extreme weather events that often affect vulnerable countries to the effects of the current climate crisis, such as heatwaves or deterioration caused by water on such conventional buildings.

The ongoing project will be replicated in developing countries. It has focused on vulnerability groups, including women working in the informal waste recycling sector, and therefore contributing to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals signed in the 2030 Agenda. In addition to reducing the amount of waste destined for its final disposition and increase its recovery, the project will yield another series of economic, social and environmental benefits. These include an increase in the country’s resilience to climate change, poverty alleviation, and improvement of the well-being and health of populations by offering a new sustainable livelihood. Finally, it also contributes to greater access to drinking water and improved biodiversity protection in the area.

This project contributes to the mitigation of GHG emissions and thus tackles the current climate crisis. With the use of different internationally accepted methodologies and previous studies, the actual reduction of greenhouse gas emissions can be calculated.  In fact, the secondary production of construction materials entails lower amounts of CO2 emissions compared to conventional production (from 40% to 80% depending on the type of material).

Given that fuel and electricity consumption the freest are the stages of the building process that release most CO2, the plastic brick recycling project is expected to have a high impact on greenhouse gas emissions reduction. 

Concentrating on five key areas (cement, plastics, steel, aluminum, and food), the project “Completing the Picture: How the Circular Economy Tackles Climate Change” illustrates how designing out waste, keeping materials in use, and regenerating farmland can reduce emissions by 9.3 billion tonnes. That is equivalent to eliminating current emissions from all forms of transport globally.

ALLCOT is currently developing a methodology to estimate CO2 emission reductions since there is none approved by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) that directly applies to the project in question.

Once approved by the United Nations, project implementation can begin. 

We need additional efforts to decarbonize our economy while creating creative and innovative sustainable growth opportunities.

monica