Engineering Innovation Podcast and Radio Series

Plastic Waste Crisis

PostedAugust 23, 2018

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Lede: China recently imposed a ban on plastic waste being sent there for recycling. It’s unclear where that plastic is going to go, but engineers are assessing impacts and remedies.

Randy Atkins: The global recycling rate is already very low…about nine-percent says Amy Brooks, a doctoral student at the University of Georgia College of Engineering. She says twelve-percent more is incinerated, and the rest ends up in landfills…or the environment.

Amy Brooks: About 8-million metric tons are reaching the ocean every year, and that is horrible for marine ecosystems and a lot of the world depends on the oceans for food.

Randy Atkins: Brooks says the problems start with people simply using too much plastic and not recycling properly, but the solutions will be complex.

Amy Brooks: There are social factors, cultural factors, income factors, all sorts of things that play into this.

Randy Atkins: So Brooks says solutions will need to be multi-faceted too, from designing new recycling systems to plastics that safely biodegrade. With the National Academy of Engineering, Randy Atkins, WTOP News.