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Circular Economy in Plastic Recycling: Why It Matters


The world is facing a major environmental challenge in the form of plastic waste. Plastic waste is affecting not only the health of our planet but also the health of all living species. 

To tackle this problem, a circular economy in plastic recycling is essential. In this blog post, we will explore what a circular economy is and its relationship with plastic recycling. 


Understanding a Circular Economy

A circular economy is a model that aims to eliminate waste and promote the continuous use of resources. In the circular economy, resources are kept in use for as long as possible, and waste and emissions are reduced to a minimum. This model is in stark contrast to the traditional linear economy, which is based on a take-make-dispose model.

The key principles of a circular economy are:

  • Designing out waste and pollution
  • Keeping products and materials in use
  • Regenerating natural systems


Importance of Circular Economy

Implementing a circular economy is crucial for promoting sustainability and resilience in the long term. It conserves resources, reduces waste and emissions, and enhances resource efficiency. 

This leads to economic growth and job creation, as well as increased competitiveness and innovation. The circular model also improves resource security and reduces dependence on finite resources, supporting a transition to a low-carbon future. 

Overall, a circular economy provides significant advantages for the environment and the economy, making it an important model for ensuring a sustainable future.


Examples of Circular Economy in Practice

The circular economy envisions a world where resources are utilized efficiently and sustainably, leading to the elimination of waste. This concept integrates principles of sustainability and efficiency into economic systems and is already being implemented by cities and corporations. 

This shift towards a circular economy creates a more resilient future. Here are some  innovative examples:

  • Carpet Recycling UK is dedicated to recycling waste carpet and turning it into new products, such as carpet underlay and equestrian surfaces. By capturing and reusing carpet waste, Carpet Recycling UK is reducing the environmental impact of this often-landfilled material.
  • H&M’s Garment Collecting Program is taking a closed-loop approach to fashion by collecting and recycling clothing waste. The collected clothing is either reused, recycled into new products, or converted into energy, closing the loop and reducing waste in the fashion industry.
  • Apple is committed to creating closed-loop supply chains for its products, and its recycling program is a key part of this effort. The company recycles a wide range of products, including iPhones, iPads, and Macs, and uses recycled materials to make new products.

Brief Overview of the Plastic Waste Problem

Plastic waste is a global environmental issue that affects not only our planet but also the health of all living species. The need for the production of single-use plastics using fossil fuels continues due to the inefficiencies of current recycling methods and high pre-treatment costs

Every year, millions of tons of plastic waste are generated and disposed of in landfills and oceans or sent to incinerators, causing harm to wildlife, contaminating the food chain, and emitting harmful levels of carbon dioxide. 

Global plastic production increased from 2 million tons in 1950 to 460 million tons in 2019. And unfortunately, only 9% can be recycled using conventional methods, and almost none of the plastic items are recycled multiple times.

Furthermore, nearly 98% of disposable plastic products come from fossil fuel sources or “virgin” materials. The production, usage, and disposal of traditional fossil fuel-based plastics are expected to contribute to 19% of the world’s carbon emissions by 2040.

This poses a threat to the preservation of our planet’s endangered resources. The dire situation calls for immediate action to reduce plastic pollution and promote the circular economy for the plastic industry.


How a Circular Economy Can Transform the Plastic Recycling Industry

The circular economy is a transformative approach to economic growth that prioritizes the reduction of waste and conservation of resources. In the context of the plastic recycling industry, the principles of a circular economy has a significant impact by creating a closed-loop system in which plastics are kept in use for as long as possible.

Plastics possess exceptional characteristics, such as lightweight material, durability, thermal and electrical insulation, and cost-effectiveness, making them a widely utilized material in various sectors, like automotive, packaging, and healthcare.

However, the proliferation of non-recyclable plastics production presents a significant environmental challenge. By promoting recycling and repurposing of all types of plastic, we can shift our perception and sustainably maximize the benefits that plastic offers to society. Of course, in the meantime, we can also protect our depleting natural resources.

Another way the circular economy can drive change in the plastic recycling industry is by creating new business models and revenue streams. For example, companies specialising in collecting and recycling plastic waste can sell the recycled materials to manufacturers, creating a market demand for recycled plastics. 

Establishing a fully circular economy requires advanced technology to recycle all plastics, as most cannot be recycled using conventional methods. Hence, innovative waste management solutions are crucial.


Solution for Plastic Circularity – Thermal Conversion Process

The Thermal Conversion Process (TCP™) is a revolutionary technology that has the ability to recycle all types of carbon-based waste, organic or petroleum-based, into valuable and useful products. 

TCP™ addresses environmental pollution and reduces dependence on fossil fuels. The technology can even recycle the most difficult-to-process waste plastics, converting them into circular naphtha, a petrochemical feedstock. 

Circular naphtha has the same quality as traditional naphtha and can be used directly by petrochemical companies.


Comparison with Traditional Plastic Recycling Methods

TCP™ offers a number of advantages over traditional plastic recycling methods, such as pyrolysis and gasification. 

First, TCP™ can process any type of plastic, including the toughest, while solutions such as pyrolysis and gasification can only be used to recycle certain types of plastic. This makes TCP™ a more accessible and efficient method for recycling plastic waste.

In addition, TCP™ requires no pre-treatment of the waste plastic, while other methods require the plastic waste to be cleaned and dried, which is a costly and time-consuming process. 

Using water, the strongest yet innocuous reagent, TCP™ enables waste plastic recycling to be done more simply and effectively.


How It Creates a Circular Economy Model

The Thermal Conversion Process (TCP™) is a technique used to convert waste plastics into useful materials, like circular naphtha. Circular naphtha is a premium quality raw material that can be further processed by petrochemical companies into various plastic products. 

This process creates a closed-loop in plastic recycling, where waste plastic is transformed into new plastics and plastic packaging, which can then be used to produce new consumer goods. 

This supports the principles of the circular economy by conserving resources and reducing plastic waste generation.


Circular Economy for Sustainability

In conclusion, the circular economy is an important concept that can help transform the plastic recycling industry and reduce the amount of plastic waste that is generated. 

Using new and innovative solutions to plastic pollution and adopting circular economy principles, we can not only reduce the environmental impact of plastic waste but also create new and valuable materials and products, solving plastic pollution for a more sustainable future.