Turning plastic waste into useful products is a nice idea. Some of it is going on, but in the opinion of an environmental group, more could and should be happening.
That’s why REAC (Regional Environmental Action Committee) is working with the University of Alberta to come up with something it hopes will work, and be safe.
“Once we have the research,” says Jule Asterisk of REAC, “we will create a community workshop about independent plastics remanufacture, and offer it to schools, First Nations and Metis Settlements, businesses, and the municipalities who all manage their own waste.”
But first things first.
“We need to better understand potential dioxins emissions when working with and remanufacturing plastic, and protect workers and the environment from these harmful chemicals,” says Asterisk.
That’s where Dr. Rafiq Ahmad of the U of A’s department of mechanical engineering comes in. He and his team are launched on a venture they call ‘Plastic Remanufacturing Project,’ which aims to improve plastics recycling templates. There will be a focus (according to REAC) on “appropriate templates for rural, remote and/or Indigenous communities to independently recycle post-consumer plastic at the locations it becomes waste.”
Asterisk says REAC eventually hopes to fundraise and provide equipment for four pilot projects in northern Alberta.
“It would be so great if we could get support from the provincial government as part of the circular plastics economy,” she says, “which we are aiming to expand.”
Speaking of the ‘circular plastics economy,’ the provincial government is contemplating legislation that would make producers of single-use plastics and other ‘throwaway’ products responsible (or maybe just more responsible) for collecting, sorting, processing and recycling them. In other words – all the things that municipalities and taxpayers have on their shoulders now, by default. Environment and Parks Minister Jason Nixon is a proponent.
“We’re moving Alberta forward with legislation that will make producers of the waste responsible for the system in a way that creates a big opportunity to diversify the plastics economy,” he said in a recent news release on the Environmental Protection and Enhance- ment Amendment Act.