There’s a plastics problem going on globally. Tonnes of plastic are ending up in our oceans, which large amounts of this going unrecycled. Plastic straws, plastic bags and bottles permeate the ocean. In fact, only 14% of plastics are recycled. So, where exactly are we going wrong, and how can we improve the plastic pollution problem?

The solution could be technology, by making plastic valuable in a different way.

There’s more than just one solution to plastic

It will take more than one digital solution to get rid of the plastics problem for good. In fact, it may never be gone entirely, even if plastic is one day banned, as usage pervades our current society. However, we can change the way we view the ‘problem’. Digitalization is at the core of this solution.

The approach cannot simply be ‘plastic is bad’. Instead, it needs to be: how can we use it?

We need to make plastics useful. This can mean anything from efficient sorting for repurposing to working out ways to repurpose unrecyclable material such as low-density polystyrene.

The plastic problem goes much further than simply recycling. In an ideal world, we want to repurpose and reuse. Technology can improve this through incentivisng people and companies to reuse their plastic as well as provide people with new ways to use their plastic waste.

A combination of technology and people

For technology to succeed in helping us recycle, repurpose and reuse, we, as people, must collaborate better with technology. Tech is merely the gateway into letting us see the worth of our discarded plastic. The three technologies that can help us the most with plastic repurposing are artificial intelligence, automation and blockchain technology.

AI works hand-in-hand with automation. It optimizes productivity and, in turn, increases the cost saving, efficiency and safety of plastic plants. Automated machines can work 24/7, so they don’t need breaks and can work overnight, and they can also detect problems with quality better than humans.

Blockchain can also help us control our plastic usage and disposal, through tracking, permanence and transparency. For example, it can be used to document a company’s waste. If a company or institution is disposing of their waste irresponsibly, they can be held to public account.

It also means that manufacturers will need to take better responsibility of their waste throughout its entire lifecycle. Technology will no longer allow them to step back from this responsibility. If a smartphone, for example, is created, the entire lifecycle of that smartphone, if it ends up in waste or not, will become the responsibility of the company in the long run.

We are bringing blockchain into a variety of sectors for better data transparency, traceability and long-term sustainability. Find out more about STAMP here.