The problems caused by excessive waste are well documented and firmly in the public eye. And while efforts are being made to tackle this growing problem, there isn’t one simple solution. Here, we look at some of the innovations around the world, big and small, that will contribute to a better future.
Tackling flip flop waste in Kenya
In 1997, a marine conservationist noticed children making toys from discarded flip flops on the beach. Together with local women, she collected, washed and processed the flip flops into art objects in a fair-trade business now known as Ocean Sole.
Recycling hygiene products in Canada
Nappies and feminine hygiene products are notoriously difficult to recycle. But in Canada, Knowaste has developed a method to strip out the plastic and fibres to make construction materials and pet litter.
Incentivising recycling in the Netherlands
Amsterdam’s Green Coin initiative encourages residents to recycle more by rewarding plastic recycling with green coins, a currency that can be used in local businesses.
Repurposing hair in the USA
If you’re a San Francisco based hair salon (or just own a furry pet), you can donate it to Matter of Trust. This environmental charity uses hair to make oil-absorbing mats to help clean up after oil spills.
Turning fishing nets into kayaks in the UK
The founders of Odyssey Innovation in the UK were moved to action by the amount of marine plastic, including old fishing nets, in their local diving waters. They arrange oceanic plastic retrieval dives and send the fishing nets to Plastix in Denmark, the only specialist net recyclers in Europe.
New processing methods in the USA
For items that are difficult, if not impossible, to recycle at the moment, technology companies are looking at how this can change. IBM has invented a pressure reactor, VolCat, that breaks materials down into powders. It’s said the machine could process items like clothing, carpet and toys.
Coffee cup recycling in Australia and the UK
Australian firm Detpak has tackled the coffee cup crisis head-on. They’ve created a takeaway cup with a next-generation lining that can be easily removed to improve recycling rates. And back in the UK, James Cropper has launched CupCycling, a new recycling process for takeaway cups.
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