White pollution refers to the environmental pollution caused by plastic waste. The prevention and control of white pollution is a worldwide problem, which has attracted the attention of all sectors of society. Recently, Li Jinghong, member of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference and academician of the CAS Member, who was attending the meeting in Beijing, believed that the essence of plastic pollution was environmental leakage caused by improper management of plastic waste, and it was imperative to further improve the level of high value utilization of waste plastics.
According to the data, in 2021, the amount of waste plastics produced in China will be about 62 million tons, of which the amount of material recycling will be about 19 million tons, with a recovery rate of 31%, which is 1.74 times the global average level of waste plastics. At the same time, we should also be aware that nearly 70% of waste plastics are still buried or burned, which contains a large number of soft plastics, which not only causes a great waste of resources, but also poses a considerable threat to the ecological environment.
Soft plastic includes plastic bags, express bags and soft packaging of food commodities that can be seen everywhere in daily life. It is estimated that in 2020, of the 45 million tons of raw materials used to produce plastic packaging in China, more than 20 million tons will be used to produce plastic flexible packaging, accounting for more than 44%.
Li Jinghong analyzed three main reasons for the low recycling rate of soft plastics:
First, the plastic flexible packaging front-end production design is mainly made of composite materials, which is not conducive to recycling processing. With the rapid development of the plastic industry, the types of plastics are becoming increasingly complex, such as polyethylene (PE), polypropylene (PP), polyvinyl chloride (PVC), polyethylene terephthalate (PET), etc. Many soft plastics are made of a variety of composite materials, and need to be recycled by classification. The process is complex, which brings great challenges to the later recycling.
The second is that the recycling system is not sound, and there are bottlenecks in high-value utilization. Some plastic flexible packaging products are small in size and light in weight. It takes a lot of time, labor and other economic costs to recycle these plastic products, but the economic benefits obtained are relatively small, resulting in the recycling of soft plastic products not being favored and accepted by the market. At the same time, the existing physical regeneration technology on the market is limited by the quality and regeneration times of waste plastics, so its applicability to mixed and low-value waste plastics is low, and it is difficult to treat low-value waste plastics.
Third, consumers are not aware of soft plastic recycling and have not formed the habit of classifying them separately. According to the feedback of waste classification management centers in some cities in China, the amount of low-value recyclables often accounts for 20% to 40% of the waste put into other garbage cans.
Li Jinghong believes that it is urgent to strengthen the recycling of soft plastics and further improve the high value utilization of waste plastics.
First, promote green consumption and improve public civilization. The public is the main consumer group of soft plastic products. It is suggested to carry out residents' propaganda and education activities in the community, reduce unnecessary plastic consumption, and encourage consumers to adopt environmentally friendly alternatives. At the same time, we should educate and guide the public to develop correct collection and delivery habits for low-value recyclables by formulating nationally recognized signs and other ways.
The second is to improve the recycling system and realize the full collection of waste plastics. Perfect infrastructure for end-of-pipe collection and disposal of plastic waste is the key to the prevention and control of plastic pollution. It is suggested to further refine the current garbage classification system, add classification and collection devices for low-value recyclables, increase the infrastructure for recycling and disposal of plastic waste in cities, and improve the recycling system from plastic production to end-of-pipe disposal and utilization. Encourage industrial pilot innovation. The government should consider giving corresponding policy and financial support to the pilot projects that the industry spontaneously aims to improve the construction of soft plastic recycling system.
Third, develop industry standards and promote the design of plastic products that are easy to recycle. The single material of plastic products can greatly improve the utilization value of recycled plastic products and gain market recognition. It is suggested that the recyclability and recyclability should be fully considered from the beginning of the front-end design of plastic flexible packaging products, so as to provide convenience for the recycling and reuse of the end, so as to improve the recycling rate of plastic flexible packaging and the high value utilization rate of recycling.
Fourth, build a soft plastic recycling system and explore the business operation mode. It is suggested to strengthen the research, development and innovation of soft plastic recycling technology, promote the linkage of all links in the recycling and recycling industry chain, and select pilot cities to promote the construction of recycling system, and explore a replicable and marketable business model suitable for China's national conditions for the recycling of low-value waste plastics.
Contact Person: Mr. Fan