The trouble with recycling is – or has been – that it appeals to the high moral ground. We all say we want to save the planet, most of us spend time each day or week recycling and most of us are ‘right behind’ any recycling initiatives.
This, of course, is fine at an individual level and every little helps. But when huge countries refuse to get on board – three come to mind – then you have to ask yourself what the point is.
The answer to the planet’s problems and particularly recycling is to monetise the solutions.
And this is beginning to happen. The next wave of entrepreneurs will probably make their billions by recycling our waste and making it into fuel or walls or roads or something useful. Behind it a supply chain will develop that provides the raw product, processes it and so on. Already we are seeing methods for collecting tonnes and tonnes of plastic from our oceans.
And it is not just entrepreneurs who want to save the planet and make a lot of money along the way. Big corporations are in the game too.
We reported on Eaton, the Norwegian conglomerate, who is repurposing Nissan car batteries to help store and run electricity for big games stadiums The Ajax stadium in the Netherlands is already wired up and others are on the way.
Plastic, of course, is another huge issue and one that is already being turned from issue to opportunity. We have reported before on how one University has come up with a bacteria that eats plastic and an airline that has already flown across the Atlantic using plastic as fuel.
Of course, it is not as simple as shovelling plastic bottles into furnaces and therefore the ability to monetise recycling any time soon might be a tall order.
The point, though, is that the planet will be saved by 20 year olds with energy and great ideas not by Governments and not by anyone who is a bit old to get into new things.
The timing is a bit critical, of course. Already scientists are discovering that ice traps a lot more nasty poisons than they thought and as it melts said nasty poisons are released which means we really are in a race against time.
Perhaps we cannot fix the planet ourselves but it certainly seems as if the potential to monetise recycling will provide an enormous incentive to fix a significant part of it.
Who knows, we may yet see the era where plastic is in demand and the price of recycled plastic becomes a commodity to be tracked and traded on exchanges.
That, though, would be a good problem to have.