If you've ever sorted your garbage for recycling, then you know there isn't just one kind of plastic. Some can be recycled, and some can't. Even if plastic can be recycled, it has to be separated once it gets to a facility to process.
It's labor-intensive, and it means that only a fraction of plastic waste gets recycled. In Australia, that number is roughly 10 percent of all the plastic waste in the country. When China stopped accepting their surplus plastic waste, it created a severe issue; plastic is piling up, and there's only so much they can do about it.
Or is there?
Turning ALL Plastics Back Into Oil
As ABC reports, the Catalytic Hydrothermal Reactor invented and patented by scientists in Australia offers another way forward. While there have been other technologies that can turn plastics back to oil for reuse, what makes this reactor unique is that it works on all plastics, and it doesn't require them to be separated. From milk jugs to wetsuits, it can render them all back into their components. From there, it can turn back fuel or anything else traditional uses of oil.
According to the founders of Licella, since being tested and patented, this tech now coming to the market. Already in talks with both the UK and Australian governments, it's a promising step forward, according to many, as a single commercial facility could process roughly 20,000 tons of plastic in a year. With that said, it would take dozens of facilities across the country to even make a dent in the amount of plastic waste Australia currently has.
If they build facilities, not just in Australia but around the world, it could be many steps forward in fighting plastic pollution.