Imagine a world without waste. Where every product we buy and every tool we use in our lifetime – every plastic bottle, every pair of pants, every convertible car, even – has its own regenerating afterlife. Right now, a diffuse band of innovators across the globe are laying the building blocks of the circular economy, an entirely new and revolutionary model that will leave our everyday lives looking, well, very similar, actually.
The world hates plastics right now. The material has become a grim emblem for the all-pervasive threat posed to our planet by human waste – a threat that has dispersed itself to the deepest depths of the Mariana Trench and that lives in the very guts of the creatures whose habitats these materials are ruining. In many senses, this pariah status is well-earned. The images in our media of bottle-strewn beaches and strangled seals are heart wrenching. However, while it may sound sacrilegious in the current atmosphere, not all plastics are bad. Many perform functions that are vital to ensuring Earth remains a viable home both for humans and wider flora and fauna.