Earth Day 2024: Planet vs. Plastics


To mark Earth Day 2024, we hear from Patrick Rafferty, our Environmental Sustainability & Compliance Advisor, to gain insights on plastics and hear about various initiatives that are taking place to combat the fight on plastics.

Over the past 6 decades there has been over 8 billion tonnes of plastic produced, an estimated 90.5% of which has not been recycled. Half of all plastics ever manufactured have been produced in the last 15 years alone and production is only set to increase as it is set to double by 2050.

Looking at these numbers above the reasoning for this years earth day theme –‘Planet vs Plastic’ – becomes obvious alongside it’s call for a 60% reduction in the production of all plastics by 2040 and the complete elimination of single use plastics by the end of the decade.

As a recycler, Powerday see how the use of plastic has changed across multiple industries from an increase in fast fashion, which relies on the use of synthetic materials made of plastic such as nylon and polyester to the move towards a more modular fit out process in construction which produces vast amounts of polythene wrapping.

It’s not all bad news however as there is a lot of incredible work going into solving the plastic problem whether that be through improving recycling methods for plastics that are already in use, or the development of new sustainable polymers. These actions combined with increased awareness of the problems caused by plastics will result in a more planet friendly future.

Traditionally plastic recycling is done using mechanical methods such as sorting, washing, drying and grinding etc. However there are currently a range of emerging non-mechanical recycling methods grouped under the sector of chemical recycling that allow an increased amount of plastics to be recycled including those that are deemed too difficult or uneconomic to recycle mechanically. It works by breaking down the plastics into their base chemicals, and chemical feed-stocks giving it the potential to dramatically improve recycling rates and divert plastic wastes from incineration or landfill.

Research into bio-plastics is another area experiencing massive growth induced by the problems caused by traditional fossil plastics. Bio-plastics encompass a whole range of plastic materials that feature one or both of the following properties: being bio-based or biodegradable. Bio-based materials are experiencing a huge increase and have feed-stocks ranging from corn to seaweed, which not only offer a lower carbon footprint compared to fossil plastics but can also offer some advantageous material properties including being edible which is highlighted by Notpla’s amazing work with Ooho. Plus they are compatible with existing recycling streams.

On a day to day basis there’s work to be done, whether that be raising awareness of the problems caused by plastics, getting involved in a plastic clear up or most importantly reducing the amount of plastics you use. Everyone has a part to play in solving the plastic crisis!


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We were pleased to have awarded this contract to Powerday.  They have delivered their services efficiently and reliably, achieved high recycling rates and 100% recovery, meeting our requirements throughout the project.  They have been easy to deal with, reasonable and fair.  We have been particularly impressed with their account management and waste reporting capabilities

Dave France, Project Director, Ecoworld Ballymore

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