Making Gold with Recycled Plastic

Making Gold with Recycled Plastic

The amount of plastic waste is as staggering as it is appalling. The Great Pacific Garbage Patch, composed mostly of plastic, is a floating “island” in the North Pacific the size of India, Europe and Mexico combined. About 10% of the plastic used each year—equivalent to 700 billion plastic bottles—ends up in the ocean.1

This plastic waste harms marine life and eventually enters the human food chain. Solutions to the problem have been elusive, as recycling, use reduction and proper waste management steps have had only limited impact.

There is, however, one potential solution that may be more powerful than any of them. What if there was a way to make plastic waste valuable? In other words, create a market for used plastic and turn it into a resource worth mining. It’s a traditional capitalist solution to a pressing environmental challenge.

Consumers, through their purchases of products that use recycled plastics, can help drive the demand for plastic waste, turning what was once worthless into the new gold.

Everyday Products Made with Recycled Plastics

The range of products produced by companies committed to the use of recycled plastics is far ranging. Recycled plastic can be turned into everything from new bottles and plastic lumber to clothes and garden rakes. For instance:

  • The Patagonia Nano Puff winter jacket has a 100% recycled shell and a filling that is composed of 55% recycled material.
  • Sneakers by Nike (Nike Grind and Nike Air) and Rothy’s are made with recycled plastics.
  • The Suga Mat is a yoga mat made from wet suits made from petroleum-derived products.
  • The Bureo Ahi and Micro Kickboard are skateboards made from discarded plastic fishing nets.
  • Upcycled Shirts produces t-shirts made of recycled cotton and recycled plastic.
  • Workout leggings by Girlfriend Collective are high-quality leggings composed of 25 plastic bottles and 79% recycled polyester.
  • Blue Planet Eyewear makes sunglasses with frames from recovered plastic waste.
  • West Paw offers a range of pet products that use discarded plastic.
  • FabHabitat sells a range of rugs, storage baskets, dinnerware and wall art made completely of recycled PET.
  • Scholl’s recently introduced a shoe made of discarded plastic bottles.

The list could go on but, suffice to say, if there is a product you are looking to buy, there probably is a high-quality alternative made from recycled plastic. So, next time you’re ready to buy something, research to find a version that uses recycled plastic and create a marketplace demand for plastic waste!


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