What’s up with recycling?
Recycling, such a boring duty, couldn’t it be done automatically? Why don’t we burn it all in a volcano or just send it to space? I mean, who likes recycling? Until recently, most countries shipped tons of garbage to China each year. However, as a result of the trade war in 2018, China no longer acquires the world’s garbage. How did the world respond in light of this?
Traditional disposal methods, such as mechanical (the process of recovering plastic trash by sorting, washing, drying, grinding, re-granulating, and compounding) and energy (the conversion of plastics into both thermal and electric energy), have been unable to keep up with the increasing load. Waste dumped in our seas and landfills pollutes the ecosystem and endangers marine, animal, and human life on a daily basis. If waste management does not change, the oceans will contain more plastic than fish by 2050.
Michelin (BATS EU: ML) has invested in chemical recycling with the pioneer Carbios, a new type of recycling technology that uses heat and chemical processes to decompose used plastics into raw materials for new plastic, fuel, or other chemicals. Michelin (BATS EU: ML) targets renewable or recycled materials to account for 40% of its production raw materials by 2030. The goal is to reach 100 percent by 2050; this sounds quite promising!
Waste Management (NYSE: WM) is another company that has realized that being a more sustainable and recycling-focused company is not only beneficial for its public image but also for its profits. As a result, the company intends to invest more than $1.6 billion in expanding its recycling and renewable energy operations by 2025. Waste Management (NYSE: WM) may appear to be a “boring” stock at first glance, but behind the surface is a cash-generating machine led by a forward-thinking management team.
The aggregate capitalization of what the Wall Street Journal referred to as “the new green energy heavyweights,” including NextEra (NYSE: NEE), has climbed by more than 200 percent over the last ten years, rising from $110 billion to $350 billion. Meanwhile, the top international oil firms, such as Chevron (NYSE: CVX), Exxon Mobil Corp (NYSE: XOM), and Shell PLC (BATS EU: SHEL), have seen their combined capitalization fall by 40% over the same period, from $980 billion to $570 billion.
Solutions will continue to be developed and implemented, with computer technology playing an increasingly important role. Recycling, particularly waste-to-energy activities, will also play a considerably larger role in waste management.
In Europe, for example, Internet of Things technology is used to streamline route pickups in waste disposal units and household dumpsters, which could provide information such as who is recycling, where they are recycling, and how successfully they are recycling. Furthermore, RFID chips have the potential to replace the older, ineffectual recycling symbols of the past. Smart recycling bins will build direct contact between people and communities with this innovative recycling technology.
These new technologies generate vast volumes of data, allowing us to understand not only garbage movement but also people’s mobility — how they act and what objects and materials they acquire and subsequently discarded. One day, everything we throw away will be electronically tracked – imagine a system that tracks what you buy at the supermarket all the way through to what you do with it and where it goes when discarded. Heck, frightening and impressive at the same time!
On a more optimistic note, some firms may pave the way for new sorts of recycling. A firm that can convert plastic garbage in the oceans into ship power, or an Australian company that has announced intentions to recycle deadly space junk into rocket fuel in space!
The future appears bright, and innovation is taking place as we speak, but will it outpace the current growth of human waste? Only time will tell if these changes will be made fast enough. However, hope still remains that we will be able to make a difference in our rapidly changing world that’s exponentially being affected by global warming. Even if more radical approaches could help with this problem, this must be a worldwide effort, a first for the human race.