Closed loop recycling: What's that all about?
Thankfully, there’s a lot of progress being made in the realm of plastic pollution with companies big and small beginning to make sustainable changes. You might have noticed that the term ‘closed-loop’ is being used more and more these days. However, without a little insight, it can be tricky to understand what this phrase actually means, and more importantly, where to look out for it.
At it’s most basic
Closed loop recycling is where separated waste is collected, recycled and transformed into something else. Nothing new there, you might think. But a number of companies are putting more research and development into creating their products solely from recycled materials.
What to watch out for
There’s a big difference between making a product out of a material that is recyclable, to making a product from materials that have already been recycled. Take disposable drinks bottles, for example. While many single-use water bottles can be recycled, the companies often use virgin plastic in their manufacturing, dedicating only a small percentage of ‘recycled plastics’ into their production runs. Many people believe that in order for these companies to claim they operate a complete closed loop system, would mean making 100% of their bottles from recycled plastic.
Why ‘closed loop’ is being used more right now
With all the increased media attention on single-use plastics and their detriment to the environment, many big companies are looking at ways to work towards a closed loop system.
But there’s a problem with this
Plastic can only be recycled so many times. Each time it goes through the recycling process, it loses some of its strength and integrity, often being used for less important jobs each time it passes through. Eventually, this plastic ends up as bin liners and nappy sacks, so after several runs through the recycling plant, that plastic still ends up in landfill. In order to make the most of ‘closed loop’ recycling, we need to ditch single use, and look for reusable products made from recycled materials.
A shining example
The old-fashioned milk delivery is a perfect example of a closed loop system. Glass bottles are filled and delivered. Those same bottles, when finished with, are collected, cleaned and refilled. No long-winded recycling process that drains valuable resources and a slow journey into the ground, but a continuous cycle of being reused. Perhaps this is why companies like Milk & More are doing so well.
A beacon of hope
Creating lasting items from materials that have already been recycled means we don't have to create more of it. (As if we need any more plastic on this earth). You might have noticed companies like rCUP, who make reusable coffee cups from a material created from a unique recycled material and waste product - used drinks cups! Or Huski Home who recycled the rice husks (waste product from the rice industry) into coffee cups.
Disposable coffee cups are particularly tricky to recycle due to their waterproof liner. However, the man behind rCup is an ex-Dyson designer, and instead of trying to separate the liner from the paper cup, he found a way to recycle the whole lot in one go. The resulting material not only saves thousands of hot drinks cups from landfill and air polluting incineration, but also provides an enduring product that doesn’t call for new virgin plastic.
I hope you will agree - the future looks bright. We're not the only one's creating a better Tomorrow, Today 💚🌍