Plastics are a crucial part of life in the 21st century. Aside from providing us with useful, lightweight and durable products, they also play a key role in the development of our world sustainably. However, with global plastics production increasing year-on-year, we are reaching a stage where plastic production and disposal methods are becoming unsustainable.
From 1950 to 2015, a total of 8,300 million tonnes of plastics have been produced, of which 2,500 million tones are still in use, 600 million tonnes recycled, and 5,700 million tonnes discarded or incinerated (Geyer, Jambeck and Law, 2017). Statistically, only 7.2% of all plastics produced since 1950 have been recycled, with 68.7% discarded or incinerated.
To combat this, manufacturers have increasingly begun to consider the implication of materials used in commercial products and the management of such products at the end of their useful lives (Simoes et al., 2014), as multiple studies have found that the use of plastics diverted or recovered from the waste stream (recyclates) can also be advantageous to society or in commerce, either environmentally or economically.