Tomorrow is International Coastal Cleanup Day. Worldwide, people will be gathering on shorelines to beautify their communities by removing the waste that their fellow residents have carelessly discarded. It is a noble act that we encourage all to participate in. It doesn’t matter your age, race, creed, or orientation - we are all on this earth together so let’s do our part to keep it clean! Take a look at the Ocean Conservancy’s interactive map to find out where the closest cleanup is for your community and join your nature-loving, tree-hugging, environment-saving counterparts in the fun tomorrow!
Once you get there you might wonder what happens once all of this waste is collected? The volunteers will gather the waste into garbage bags, plastics, metal, glass, and cardboard into recycling bins and drop them off at the designated locations. But then what? Where does it all go? What is happening with these plastics after they leave your curb in that bright green recycling truck on a Wednesday morning? What happens when it gets to its destination? Maybe you don’t wonder that at all… let us tell you anyway.
For a visual representation, take a look at our short (and awesome) video on Omachron's YouTube explaining the process of recycling. Here’s the scoop on how it’s done.
1. It first goes to the recycling facility. There it is sorted and separated from contaminants such as glass, metal, and rocks.
2. It is mechanically compressed into a cube and then shipped hundreds of miles to a recycling facility.
3. Once the materials reach said facility, they need to be washed, chopped into flakes, and dried, which is very energy intensive step.
4. It is then melted into plastic ooze.
5. That ooze is filtered for impurities and subsequently formed into strands which are cooled and chopped into pellets for sale.
6. These pellets are then shipped to another capital intensive, centralized facility where the plastic is converted into finished goods.
7. These goods are then shipped hundreds, or even thousands of miles to their final customers.
It’s. So. Much. Energy.
The time, cost, and effort to recycle a single bottle is astounding. Recycling equipment comes with a high capital cost that consumes large amounts of energy. Plastic waste is believed to cost upwards of $33,000 per ton in reduced environmental value according to a study published in Marine Pollution Bulletin. National Geographic reported that 91% of plastics aren’t recycled and many of them lie on the floor of our oceans, seas, and lakes. Foundations like the World Wildlife Fund are crying out for help because we are destroying ecosystems everywhere.
Big box companies like Coca-Cola have committed to a “World Without Waste” by promising that their plastic packaging will be reusable, recyclable, or compostable by 2025. The Grocery Manufacturers Association put out a report recently stating that the 25 largest producers of consumer packaged goods have committed to increase recyclable content or minimize the packaging in their products. Who are those companies? Think Procter & Gamble, Kellogg’s, and PepsiCo. Face it - we all have shampoo at home, we all eat cereal - we are consuming these products every day! These plastics are in our homes and out to the recycling bin in no time at all. Bacardi is doing something super fun with plastic straw recycling - they’ve figured out a way to recycle them into records for a future that doesn’t suck. See what they did there? No joke. It’s so cool. They are donating 100% of their profits to Lonely Whale - an organization dedicated to stemming the flow of plastics into the ocean. Noble as it all is, we are still left with the overwhelming task of dealing with the plastics we already have.
At Plasti-Block™ we have access to Omachron Technologies revolutionary equipment. They have developed a process to take 100% pre or post-consumer plastic and transform it into finished goods with excellent material properties and aesthetics. The process is so effective that the output can even take the form of the product originally recycled. This is truly hardcore recycling. It contrasts with conventional, plastic-recycling processes that require a large proportion of virgin material mixed with the recycled material. Take a look at this video to see their machines and technology in action. It’s really quite incredible.
Let’s all commit to getting out there tomorrow and collecting those plastics!