What are the main benefits of processing non-commercially recyclable plastic in SIDS?

Reduce carbon footprint

Reduce plastic waste

Generate direct and indirect jobs

Reduction of plastic waste and pollution, reduced landfill load (or extended capacity and/or life of landfills)

SIDS are disproportionately affected by plastic litter and pollution compared to their own consumption rates and population sizes. Due to a combination of accumulated marine litter on their coastlines with limited waste collection and waste treatment systems, many SIDS face a double challenge when trying to manage and eliminate their plastic pollution. Using the results of the Deplastify tool provides users with improved plastic waste and pollution management options by proposing the most suitable technologies/processes that are fit for the context of a specific island.

Reduction in the carbon footprint, increased circularity of materials in some cases

Integrating recycled plastic content into products and packaging is an effective way to reduce carbon emissions, relative to the entire plastic value chain and carbon value chain. A fully functioning circular economy requires a source of recycled plastic material. The “Environmental benefits” criteria of Deplastify assess the environmental impacts of each process/technology based on its carbon footprints (Global Warming Potential). This criterion is based on cradle-to-grave Life Cycle Analysis (LCA). This criterion indicates the impact on climate change of treating one tonne of plastic waste using the processes/technologies. It is expressed in kg CO2 equivalents (eq.) per kg of waste input. The carbon footprints for chemical recycling technologies are derived from screening life cycle assessment (LCA) studies, based on information about the mass and energy balances of the treatment technology (CE Delft, 2020). As for the “Energy consumption” criterion, a lower “GWP” score is assigned to the processes/technologies with high carbon footprints, whereas, a higher score is attributed to processes/technologies with low carbon footprints.

Generating sustainable livelihoods and jobs, may lead to creation of new value chains

Deplastify considers both the direct and indirect jobs created by the development of the process/technology. “Direct job” refers to the workers employed for operating the process/technology, whereas “indirect job” refers to the output of additional activities made possible by the process/technology, but not as a direct output of the process/technology itself.  The most suitable technology results report thus has an effect on job creation and business growth in the local economy as a result of demand created by the development of the process/technology selected and its direct employees. Indirect job creation includes the workers employed for the pre-treatment of the inputs to be processed by the process/technology, such as collection, segregation, shredding, and cleaning of plastics. Therefore, the Deplastify report expresses the potential for the process/technology to create additional direct and indirect jobs, and may lead to new value chains.

Image: The Ocean Agency, MathieuFoulquié_C_1.