Even though many of us are aware of the damage we are doing each time we buy said bottles, we don’t actually have much of a choice, do we? In certain situations, there is no other option than to buy the bottle of whatever you need to quench your thirst. Some options that include recycling, or the use of our own bottles, are good alternatives, but not always available.
In the same vein, the constant need and endless production of energy from fossil fuels has started to have an affect on the planet. The plastic derived from fossil fuels to make everyday items such as plastic bottles are adding to the problem. This issue is something that many researchers are looking into with the hope for change. Some companies are developing ways to use the waste carbon dioxide from the burning of fossil fuels, for things like plastic bottles.
To try and solve the problem, the company Newlight Technologies have started to use carbon capture technologies to convert CO2 into a bioplastic material they call AirCarbon. For more information on carbon capture technologies, click here. Now, instead of the traditional way of making plastic with fossil fuels, this technology uses the greenhouse gas that is emitted from several processes such as landfills, power plants and agriculture. So, this waste material that used to be pumped into the air, is now pumped into a biocatalyst. The catalyst then separates the gases to pull out the carbon. This carbon is then mixed with oxygen and hydrogen to make a long chain polymer. This polymer, they called AirCarbon, is made up of around 40% oxygen and about 60% carbon and hydrogen.
At the same time, the EU has been making steps to help make the union into a more circular economy. This directly affects the production and recycling of plastics and plastic bottles. In a nutshell, a circular economy intends to minimise waste and use resources more efficiently. In terms of bottles made from CO2, the simple act of taking greenhouse gas emissions to create plastic, is a circular economy at its core. That being said, it still raises the question of the moral ambiguity of using plastic in the first place. I think the fact to hold onto here, though, is the innovative use of waste. The world seems to be heading in the direction of using waste as a viable resource. And we all know how we seem to acquire waste in an abundance. It all comes full circle.
However this still begs the question; is this new method of creating plastic from waste carbon dioxide, not simply adding to the huge amounts of plastic waste we have anyway. Is this technology not simply facilitating, endorsing even, the use of plastic bottles? Where are the morals in that, where is the solid ground that makes this technology future proof. Questions, I’m certain will be answered with new technology sooner or later. Until then, the use of CO2 in the manufacturing of plastic bottles is certainly a step in the right direction that will hopefully catch on and become a scalable business for the future.