Plastic does not always mean evil, researchers say in response to the coronavirus pandemic
What is 10Rs principle?
- REDUCE – reduce the amount of waste or waste material you use
- REUSE – use items repeatedly if possible, prefer reusable alternatives (e.g. reusable fabric bag instead of a paper or plastic one)
- REFUSE – reject items we do not need (do not take items unnecessarily even if they are for free, eliminate e.g. unnecessary print)
- REFILL – refill e.g. plastic packaging, bottles, cans,…
- REPAIR – if possible, repair rather than dispose
- REPURPOSE – before disposing of an item, consider the ways in which it could be repurposed or repaired
- REGIFT – try to gift items you do not need before disposing them
- RETHINK – rethink how you view waste and environment
- RECOVER – disposed material can be used for energy recovery (e.g. heat produced in an incinerator plant)
The researchers say that reduction of the environmental impact of plastic waste is a huge challenge for the technology which will require cooperation of consumers, suppliers, public administration and waste treatment operators. Nevertheless, the researchers believe that the current coronavirus pandemic could act as a catalyst for long-term changes in plastic waste management practices. Plastic Waste Treatment is proposed to facilitate the decision making for plastic replacement.
”We should learn the lesson from the impacts of the current pandemic and create a new and better society. We should not brand the plastics as evil at any cost; we should focus on consumer behaviour and waste management system. We believe that our PWF concept can help people and public bodies to make more responsible decisions in respect to sustainable development,“ adds Klemeš.
The study was carried out by Prof. Jiří Klemeš and Dr. Yee Van Fan from the SPIL laboratory, Faculty of Mechanical Engineering, Brno University of Technology, under the collaboration with Prof. Raymond R. Tan from the De La Salle University, Philipines, and Dr. Peng Jiang from A*STAR, Agency for Science, Technology and Research, Singapore. At Altmetric, the study is among the top 5 % articles in the world. The article ”Klemeš, J.J., Fan, X.Y., Tan R.R., Jiang P., 2020, Minimising the present and future plastic waste, energy and environmental footprints related to COVID-19, Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, 127 109883“ (in English) was published in “Open Access“ mode and can be accessed here.
SPIL – Sustainable Process Integration Laboratory is an international research team supervised by Professor Jiří Klemeš from the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering, Brno University of Technology. The project No. CZ.02.1.01/0.0/0.0/15 003/0000456 has been subsidized from the Operational Programme Research, Development and Education, and was commenced in February 2017. The objective of the research team is to provide both unique and practical knowledge which will promote an increase in efficiency of processes and power industries, and will help minimize the so-called greenhouse, nitrogen, ecological and water footprints.