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Plastic Pollution: Where Do We Stand?

Global plastic pollution has doubled over the last five decades. According to the Guardian, humans have produced over 8.3 billion tonnes of plastic since the middle of the 20th century. That is more than the weight of 800,000 Eiffel Towers. 91% of the 8.3 billion tonnes were not recycled but rather incinerated, dumped in landfills or disposed of in the environment. COVID-19 has made this situation even worse; it is high time we make a change together.

Plastic Pollution in 2021: Where Do We Stand?
It is becoming apparent that even the global pandemic has not been able to minimise plastic production. The COVID crisis is actually accelerating global plastic consumption many times over.

Even before COVID-19 emerged, scientists warned that global plastic pollution would increase steadily over the next eight to nine decades. This mainly affects developing regions, which are expected to exceed 1,300 million tonnes of plastic waste per year. For this reason, proper management of plastic pollution must be the top priority of the environmental discussion in 2021 and subsequent years.

Forecasts based on “business-as-usual” growth predict a significant increase in plastic consumption up to 2100.

Source: Own illustration; Material Economics, The Circular Economy, 2018 

Plastic Pollution Affects You More Than You Think
Around 90% of global plastic waste ends up in a landfill where it is disposed of in an environmentally harmful way. These landfills are one of the reasons why soil and groundwater are becoming increasingly contaminated. However, the pollution has even more far-reaching consequences. It spreads from there landfills into rivers and other parts of the environment. According to EURELCO, there are more than 500,000 landfills in Europe alone. Many of these landfills are located near towns, further increasing the danger to nearby residents.

In 2018, more than 27 million tonnes of plastic waste were dumped into landfills worldwide. When this plastic waste is continuously exposed to solar radiation or higher temperatures, a substance even more dangerous than CO₂ is released. As a result of the heat, nitrogen oxide (NOx) is emitted: a gas that is ten times more dangerous than CO₂ and becomes a severe health hazard in larger quantities.

Legislative Regulations Give Cause for Hope
This includes the “EU Circular Economy Package” adopted on 18th April 2018. It provides a great deal of support for our project. It stipulates that 50% of plastic packaging in the EU must be recycled by 2025, and even as much as 55% by 2030. These provisions increase pressure, i.e. demand and sale price, which provides significant support for ENESPA AG and its project.

ENESPA AG is one of the first companies to achieve a circular economy for mixed plastic waste. This means that the plastics produced can be returned to the system as raw materials and remain there. The advantage: On the one hand, (prohibited) landfills and pollution are reduced, and on the other hand, less crude oil is consumed. This makes our thermolysis facility and the recycling of mixed plastic waste an attractive financial proposition and lends value to plastic waste.

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ENESPA AG will generate positive cash flow starting with the first investment. By operating several facilities simultaneously, revenues increase disproportionately and, accordingly, so does the value of the company. There is great demand for this technology. 18 locations in Germany are interested in operating a facility at this time.

The business development fund of the Schwarze Pumpe Industrial Park is very interested in the ENESPA project. Following a thorough investigation, the responsible development bank declared the project eligible for funding. The project will be supported by the development bank once the approval process is completed. The approval process is in progress. (As of July 2020)

The aim is for the first 5,000 kg/day facility in the industrial park to be commissionedby the end of 2020. As soon as this facility is in reliable operation, ENESPA will build another ten facilities and then gradually expand to forty facilities. The ten facilities are expected to be fully operational by the end of 2021.

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