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Please see my correspondence on Vivek’s suggestion, ‘Closing the plastic loop’, on page 1. It is clear that the critical problem in the plastics system is plastic waste of an exclusively high-grade polymer cannot, at present, be recycled into the same high-grade polymer. This fundamental point has been obfuscated by much of the industry, government and design literature on this issue. Take polymark as an example: As long as this situation remains any work done on sortation is redundant.

If this were to change, indeed, it has to change, then sortation solutions will come to the fore. A labour based approach is better because it guarantees that different shaped geometries can be sorted as well enabling people in the developing world to sort their plastic waste. However, this will not happen without some form of easily viewable mark to indicate the type of polymer. The current situation is rather like trying to deliver Christmas cards to the neighbours, where half the white envelopes have the house number written in Tippex, and the other half have nothing at all. Complete madness.

There is a need there, how that translates into paying $s I am not sure. Bit of a chicken and the egg scenario: money/sponsors are required to build a good website, but money/sponsors are hard to get until the website has been built. I think the IDEO people should comment, along with the Ellen MacArthur foundation.


Andrew commented on Closing the plastic loop

Thanks Vivek, a good explanation. The fact that no high grade polymers can, at present, be recycled into high grade polymers has terrible implications for the circular economy. I knew it was bad, but not that bad, the chemists/engineers who work in the industry will have to come up with something fast. In addition, I really wish that people would make this basic fact crystal clear (like you have). A lot of information from industry/government obfuscates this key point. Look at the Polymark project, there is no reference to this point there: