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Future of Waste Recycling Technology

Future of Waste Recycling Technology

Organized at 3 PM GMT/UTC on 14th September, 2016



Nadine Cavusoglu summarised this panel and put together a set of interesting quotes.


BRIDGET CROKE, External Affairs, Closed Loop Fund

End of life and recyclability play a really strong role in engaging consumers around the impacts of their choices because it is the one things they can feel in touch.

  • Chemicals and what’s in their foods and products is an aspect that is personal to consumers.
  • It is important for us to focus on the products that consumers are closest to to ensure they care more about the issue.
  • In the developed world we have become very distanced from the supply chain. People typically do not think about the way something is made.
  • There needs to be innovations in the whole system rather than incremental changes

I think that the change in trends will not come from the consumer but from policy changes and major influencers

  • There are some companies, not all, that are thinking about economically where their resources are going to come from and are choosing to think a little bit longer term.
  • These companies will create new opportunities and options for consumers who then will get involved and start to care.

Digital technologies will make and create a lot of understanding of how waste streams flow

  • It will also help us to understand where to localize and where to have appropriate scale for waste management.
  • Future innovations may not only be digitized but there are possibilities for things like chemical recycling.
  • I also think that digital technologies will create new types of waste.
  • One of the big innovations in terms of sortation that is going to be in the near term is identification

There is a lot of opportunity to leverage different kind of capital and to make sure that it is going into the future of waste management and to show that there is a lot of value there.

DOUG WOODRING, Co-founder, Ocean Recovery Alliance

The procurement people who package and sell things bear responsibility

  • They need to start thinking about the waste & implications to the community they serve.
  • Consumers in a fast moving economy just want things easily and quickly. Waste management systems might almost be too good such that they clean things up quickly. So consumers don’t have a real chance to absorb what is happening to the material and where it’s going.
  • The consumers are not thinking enough to stand up to the producers and ask for change (at least here in Asia).

Localizing some of the solutions on a smaller scale will be a great opportunity

  • Waste is distributed everywhere and you have to put the solutions where the problems are.
  • The developing world could value equipment (not necessarily high tech but like grinders, shredders, bailers and cleaners) enough to get them up the value chain so they could at least get it to the next city. So many places don’t even have this capacity yet.

There is a lot we can do on the bring-back side and reverse supply chain so the material stays purer.

  • A very simple way of sorting is wet and dry. You can mechanically sort it but most of the world does not have this technology.
  • If you sort by wet and dry, then all the dry stuff can get captured and recovered more easily for something valuable without contamination. And with the wet you can do things with organics and gasification.
  • If you combine them at the collection point then your output is most likely to be zero.

There’s simply too much waste in the world and too little technology to handle it on the recycling and waste capacity side globally

  • 20-30 years from now you might have chemical digestion that is able to take a lot of materials and put them into purer state where you can sell it back into the market.
  • Digitization might help drive consumer behavior. For example, if by scanning barcodes the consumer could see the origin of the material and what is recyclable.

If we could have a reward and recovery system, people would change very fast. The challenge is to find someone (government or corporate) to put money into the reward. If we could standardize packaging material, it would make recycling, especially in the case of plastics, a lot easier.


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