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  • Narrator: This pile of scraps is actually

  • shredded plastic and clothing,

  • and it's about to be turned into bottles.

  • We all know plastic waste is a problem.

  • It can take up to 1,000 years to break down,

  • which can lead to things like this.

  • Every year, manufacturers burn $80 to $120 billion

  • worth of fossil fuels to make single-use plastic items,

  • like water and soda bottles,

  • meaning it's used once and then discarded.

  • And even if it's recycled, that requires additional energy,

  • which releases even more greenhouse gases

  • into the atmosphere.

  • One company rethinking all this

  • is Canadian-based Loop Industries.

  • Instead of using petroleum and natural gas,

  • Loop takes already existing plastic items

  • along with polyester fiber materials,

  • like carpets and T-shirts,

  • then breaks them down

  • to be turned into new plastic products.

  • And the upside?

  • It doesn't require the energy

  • conventional recycling centers need,

  • which helps reduce greenhouse gases.

  • Daniel Solomita: Not only are we using waste plastics,

  • but we're using waste plastics that have no value today.

  • So, those are the plastics that end up

  • in the ocean and your rivers and landfills,

  • because no one can do anything with the material.

  • So, Loop's technology is built to take

  • very low-value material and create

  • a very high-value product out of it.

  • Narrator: This isn't really recycling; it's upcycling.

  • This concept of upcycling has been around since the 1960s.

  • However, it is traditionally done with heat and pressure.

  • It's very expensive.

  • So, how exactly does Loop's process work?

  • Solomita: Everyone else in the world that manufactures

  • those two monomers starts from fossil fuels,

  • either natural gas or crude oil.

  • We make the exact same petrochemicals,

  • except we don't use the petroleum; we use waste plastic.

  • And then we rebuild those monomers

  • back into brand new plastic.

  • Narrator: Imagine the waste plastic is a chocolate cake.

  • Loop's process pretty much breaks down the chocolate cake

  • into its basic ingredients:

  • the eggs, the flour, the sugar, and the chocolate.

  • Each ingredient is broken down

  • and separated into its purest form.

  • For our cake metaphor, that means going so far

  • as putting the egg back in its shell.

  • Then, Loop takes the purified ingredients

  • and bakes a brand new cake.

  • To start, they load these massive reactors

  • with a bunch of waste plastic

  • and add in Loop's own proprietary catalyst.

  • Solomita: What our catalyst that we've developed does

  • is it goes in and it cuts the bonds

  • between those two chemicals and releases them.

  • Narrator: The catalyst breaks down the waste

  • into its two base monomers:

  • DMT, dimethyl terephthalate,

  • and MEG, monoethylene glycol.

  • After that, the separated DMT and MEG monomers

  • are purified to remove additives, like dye.

  • The purified DMT and MEG are then turned back

  • into PET, polyethylene terephthalate,

  • which is the base material for many plastic products.

  • These PET pellets are then sold

  • to bottling and packaging companies.

  • The pellets are loaded into their machines,

  • which molds them into the final packaging shape.

  • And after it's used as a plastic water bottle,

  • color container, polyester fiber, or more,

  • it can be broken down and built back up again,

  • a continuous cycle that doesn't require fossil fuels.

  • Loop's finished products are currently being used

  • by Pepsi, Coca-Cola, and Evian.

  • And they're currently building their first

  • American facility in South Carolina.

  • Let's hope it's sustainable enough to make this disappear.

Narrator: This pile of scraps is actually

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How One Company Turns Plastic Waste Into Reusable Packaging

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    林宜悉 posted on 2020/10/25
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