Multilayered Plastics (MLP) — A Menace to be Solved
Have you wondered what happens to the wrapper of a biscuit packet once you discard it? It stays in the environment forever because rag-pickers do not pick it up and the producers do not have a plan to meet their extended producer responsibility (EPR) to retrieve it from the open. The government too does not have a clue how to deal with these packets which are indestructible and add to garbage dumps. Such wrappers are made of multilayered plastic (MLP). Mostly, MLP packets have two sheets of plastic enclosing a layer of aluminum, but technically MLP can be any material that has at least one layer of plastic.
There are lots of solutions to plastic pollution that have received attention over the years. from cleaning up waste from the oceans to creating bans for single-use plastic bags. The problem is that none of these solutions have really made a significant change when it comes to the largest category of plastic waste: plastic packaging.
MLP and Mondelez
To provide context to the problem, over 45% of plastic waste generated in 2015 was from packaging materials. And up to 56% of plastic packaging in developing countries consists of multilayered materials. Developing countries, in particular, face unique challenges when it comes to commercial and industrial uses of plastic packaging. This is especially true given the prominent use of multilayered packaging, which is a type of packaging that is very hard to recycle/reuse effectively.
MLPs are generally sent to cement plants and incinerated, which produces a lot of pollution, and benefits nobody. TrashCon invented a technology to recycle non-recyclable plastics and MLPs into recycled sheets without use of chemicals or water, and Mondelez International is going to adapt and implement this technology, thus paving way to a new era in MLP processing.
The project will use the technology purchased from our company, to convert over 600 tonnes of plastic waste per annum into plywood alternatives called WoW Boards. The initiative was facilitated by Ubuntoo, a global environment solutions company. The initiative is funded by Mondelez India along with its impact investing arm and is expected to begin commercial production in July 2021.
“At TrashCon, we have invented patented technology to convert MLP coming from houses, streets and even landfills into an alternative to plywood thus solving not only the plastic issue but also preventing incessant cutting of trees,” said TrashCon founder Nivedha RM in an interview with The Economic Times regarding this.
Extended Producer Responsibility
But why is Mondelez doing all of this? Let’s talk about EPR — Extended Producer Responsibility. EPR is basically putting the onus of the responsibility of plastic packaging on the producer; take back the plastics that they generated and put it to use, either by recycling or by sending it to cement plants where they get burned anyway. Currently, the destination for all MLPs were cement plants, so conscious organizations like Mondelez decided to do something about it, to create circular economy with the multi-layered plastics, thus justifying the role of EPR as well.
A circular economy is a systemic approach to economic development designed to benefit businesses, society, and the environment. In contrast to the ‘take-make-waste’ linear model, a circular economy is regenerative by design and aims to gradually decouple growth from the consumption of finite resources.
Solar Impulse and TrashCon
Along with Mondelez International adopting our technology and taking responsibility for packaging, TrashCon received a prestigious international certificate a few days ago!
This has been an amazing week for us, as we have not only partnered up with a huge a company, we have also received the “Solar Impulse Efficient Solution” Label, a proof of high standards in profitability and sustainability. TrashCon, a technology driven 100% zero waste solution was attributed the “Solar Impulse Efficient Solution” Label following an assessment performed by external independent experts and based on verified standards. It is thereby joining the #1000solutions challenge, an initiative by the Solar Impulse Foundation to select solutions that meet high standards in profitability and sustainability and present them to decision-makers to fast-track their implementation.
To receive the “Solar Impulse Efficient Solution” Label, TrashCon was thoroughly assessed by a pool of independent experts according to 5 criteria covering the three main topics of Feasibility, Environmental and Profitability. All labelled solutions are part of the #1000solutions portfolio that will be presented to decision-makers in business and government by Bertrand Piccard, Chairman of the Solar Impulse Foundation. The aim of this initiative is to encourage the adoption of more ambitious environmental targets and fast-track the implementation of these solutions on a large scale.