Whether you’re sitting at your desk, kicking back at home or just about anywhere else, stop and take a moment to look around. How many things in your immediate vicinity are made of plastic? From reusable coffee cups to computer keyboards to compostable plastic food containers, stuff made out of polymers is everywhere. The good news, from an environmental perspective, is that more and more products e.g. running shoes and car interiors are the result of a new wave in unconventional plastic re-purposing. Amid the circular economy craze plastics represent both a huge opportunity and a huge challenge. Slowly but surely, plastic manufacturers and large-scale polymer users, are recognizing that refining the way plastics are manufactured and used could bring both financial and environmental benefits. Let us remind ourselves the circular economy is not simply a catchy name for recycling materials such as plastic. Martin Stuchtey, director of McKinsey’s sustainability and resource productivity division has said “Recycling is consistent with the story, but it’s only a very small part. It’s about managing the stock.”  The goal is to keep materials functioning at their highest utility at all time, preventing would-be waste from reaching landfills.

Lisa James

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