Waste plastics can become a major source of fuel, as researchers around the world discover methods to convert plastics into useful products.
According to Erwin Reisner, Professor of Energy and Sustainability at the University of Cambridge, waste plastics contain an abundance of energy and certain types of chemicals.
A BBC report highlights that, despite their significance and long-lasting chemical bonds, only 10% of the seven billion tonnes of plastics ever produced are recycled.
The Plastics Programme Manager for the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, Dilyana Mihaylova, stated that billions of dollars worth of valuable plastics and related materials are lost as a result of our inability to recycle waste.
The report adds that more than 350 million tonnes of plastic — roughly the same weight as humans — are produced annually, of which 85 percent are wasted in the environment.
The recycling industry can make plastics useful by adding various chemicals capable of transforming the material into its raw state. The process can also be used to produce fossil-like fuels.
Despite efforts, this method has been criticized. Some experts believe that fuel conversions from plastics cannot be relied upon to solve the problem of plastic pollution. Therefore, plastic recycling for petrochemical conversion is still under much debate.