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Transforming plastics through a circular economy

13 March 2019 - 73   - 0

Though plastics is called a  monster, it’s a life sustenance substance and today the plastics industrialists are striving to turn it the other way around – ‘Leaner economy into a circular economy’. 

In explaining this  phenomenon, Nishan Perera, Chairman, Lankapack 2019 Exhibition/Congress, said that what he meant by ‘Leaner economy’ of plastics is – produce, use and dump, but their newest concept is what is called ‘Circular economy’ of plastics – rework, reuse and recycle to be sustainable.

He was speaking at the launch of Lankapack 2019 – ‘A hands-on Exhibition for Packaging, Processing, Printing and Plastic Industries’ held at Galadari Hotel, Colombo on Tuesday. The exhibition is scheduled to be held on September 11, 12 and 13 at the BMICH.

No one can live without plastics and the statistics pertaining to plastics is stunning, he said. He pointed out that the world figures show that in1964 the entire plastic consumption of the world was 15 million tons and in 2014 it grew by 20 times which is 311 million tons and by 2050 the amount will be 1100 tons or four times what is produced.  

In a ratio comparison of the weight of the fish in the whole of the sea, a 20 per cent of plastics of that fish weight is dumped into the waterways in the world and by 2050 the plastics that would be dumped into the sea is more than the weight of the fish in the seas which would then be an extremely serious calamity, he indicated.

About 6 per cent of fossil fuel, he said  is used to generate plastics and in 2050 it is going to be 20 per cent and carbon emissions, now about 1 per cent, but within another 30 years’ time it would be 15 per cent.    

What now happens, he said is - produce, use, and dump and the figures speak of 32 per cent of what is produced goes to water streams or leakage; 40 per cent goes to land fill. 

About 14 per cent is burned to make some energy. Speaking of carbon emission, he indicated that a very small percentage is re-circulated – a huge challenge the world is facing.

In the case of leaner economy out of the plastic production, 40 per cent is in America and Europe but they dump only about 2 per cent of their plastics into water streams whereas of the 45 per cent out of plastic production in Asia, 82 per cent is dumped into the water streams. So the problem is everywhere and everyone is affected by the landfills; all living creatures are affected by the plastics pollution, he pointed out.

What is expected with the help of plastics is a ‘green economy’.  In launching the ‘Congress – sustainable packaging for a circular economy’ he said that in the Congress (event) they would  bring together scientists, industrialists, all the stakeholders and the media who are interested in walking the extra mile to make this country and  the world a better sustainable circular economy with the plastics. (Quintus) 

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