There’s value in the materials, nutrients and products that are currently wasted by a linear global economy, there are numerous studies that provide evidence for that. However, there are still some significant barriers to overcome if that economic opportunity is to be taken advantage of.

Two of those challenges, capital investment and the ability to ‘sort’ materials, are set to be overcome in a new high-tech centre set to be opened in Baltimore next year. By this time next year, it is predicted that the plant could be sorting more than 50,000 tonnes of recycled plastic materials like milk cartons, soda bottles and cups.

The centre’s success is primarily down to two things. First, cutting edge laser technology that automates the sorting process to create different streams of plastics, maximising recycling and reuse value for different strands. Second, interest-free capital investment from the $100 million Closed Loop Fund, a new group that has amassed funding from 10 of the largest consumer goods companies in the U.S., including Walmart, Coca Cola and Unilever.

Cases like these might still be exceptional, but they do shed some light on the current state of play. Technology offers part of the solution for economic competitiveness, but the current positioning of the recycled materials market also means that large scale projects will almost always need significant initial financial investment.

Source: This new idea could change recycling in the U.S. forever

Lead image licensed under CC – credit Flickr user: Claudia Zimmer

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