Plastic has long been a must for modern human to survive, and it is nearly impossible for humans to eliminate in everyday life. However, with its negative impact to the environment, what would be the proper way to treat plastic in the future? The Plasticity Forum 2013 shed some insights on the solutions for the future of plastic.
With the help of the extra-curricular activity subsidy from the Division of Environment, I was very lucky to attend the forum and to meet many leading professionals, entrepreneurs and even Hong Kong governors to discuss topics related to plastics. It is an annual event held by the Asia Society to discuss the trend and industrial news about plastic.
The forum presented ideas on how to make innovative use of this material both pre and post-consumer use. It also addressed the design, re-use and waste reduction of plastic. The flow of the forum was well arranged. Some successful plastic reuse programs were introduced first, in both technical and managerial aspects. After that, innovative designs using plastics were also presented. In each of the presentation, experts shared their point of views about the development and usage of plastic, and generally agreed that plastic is a fantastic material with multiple benefits, however, human should have the responsibility to manage it sustainably. I was very satisfied with the diversity of angles and speakers in this forum, which enabled me to study this topic with different perspectives.
Among all presenters, I was most amazed by Dr. Mike Biddle, founder of a plastic recycling company. For many countries, plastic sorting is the most troublesome process and most of them prefer sorting manually. The whole process is very time consuming and costly, discouraging the plastic recycling industry. Dr. Biddle used 7 years of research and investment to found MBA Polymer, a breakthrough in the plastic industry. His company uses a series of machines to sort out plastics by quality, color and types. This technology can greatly reduce energy consumption and save raw material, more importantly, it helps to close the loop of plastic production. It has become the hope of the plastic industry, enabling humans to enjoy the advantage of plastic while generating less harm to the environment. However, people should also have the responsibility to recycle plastic waste to facilitate the development of the industry.
Another surprise is a kayak, made of plastic bottles, made by a high school student. His purpose of making the kayak was to raise the awareness of the waste problem on beaches. After he made the kayak, he successfully rode it on the pool and made a film which I found to be inspiring.
The Plasticity Forum presented ideas on how to harness this material in new ways. It was a good start for us to explore ways to redirect our waste from landfills to other meaningful uses. I hope that this is a seed to create more discussions of this type across our communities.