Plastic bottles are now a ubiquitous part of our daily lives and are used to store a huge range of goods and materials, from food and beverages to cosmetics and even plastic furniture.
It’s no surprise then that it’s also a source of huge numbers of litter, according to the Australian Environmental Health Research Centre.
The centre has identified plastics as a significant source of environmental pollution, and is working to tackle it by creating the world’s first plastic bottle recycling facility.
Key points:Plastic bottle waste is being thrown away in landfill every yearAccording to the ANEHC, up to 1,000 tonnes of plastic waste is thrown away each year in Australia, with around 50 per cent of this being recycledThe centre has developed the first plastic bottles recycling facility in Australia that will be used to collect the plastic waste it collects.
“Plastic bottles are one of the most popular types of waste that is being dumped in landfill,” Associate Professor Nick Smith said.
“We need to make sure we are taking a sustainable approach with the recycling of this type of waste and that it is being collected and disposed of in a sustainable way.”
Professor Smith and his colleagues have spent years studying the waste and collected information from around the world to help them understand the source of plastic pollution in Australia.
“The most common sources of plastic in Australia are from disposable products, including food, clothing, furniture and toys, but also from household items,” Professor Smith said of the waste.
“Most plastics in Australia come from plastic bottles.”
As plastic bottles are not recyclable, we need to be looking at how we can use this waste to reduce plastic waste in Australia.
“The centre’s recycling facility will have a recycling capacity of 250 bottles per hour, which will allow the facility to collect about 1,100 bottles a day.
Professor Smith said the facility would not be able to collect all the plastic bottles thrown away, as some of them would be recycled from landfill.”
It’s very hard to collect everything,” he said.”[We can] just sort through them and put them into bins, which means we can’t use them for any other purpose than to recycle them.
“The facility will be in a factory-like environment, with the space being separated from the landfill.
The facility’s design will include the use of a plastic screen protector to stop plastic bottles from falling out of the recycling facility, as well as plastic shoe boxes that will hold the plastic recycling.
The centre hopes the facility will allow it to provide free recycling to people in remote areas of Australia.
Professor Adam Kipps from the ANU’s School of Public Health said the research had been quite a challenge.”
The technology has progressed very, very fast, but it is still quite early days in terms of the technology being used and how we will be able, as a society, to recycle plastic bottles safely.”