What Are The New Discoveries To Reduce Plastic Use?

What Are The New Discoveries To Reduce Plastic Use?


With rising interest in reducing plastic use on a wider scale, what are some of the new discoveries or approaches to making this a reality?

There are a lot of new discoveries or approaches to reducing plastic use, which include more eco-friendly plastic alternatives such as compostable plastic, but also recycling options including a new enterprise which turns some plastic waste into eco-boards or panels not dissimilar to plywood.


What Is The Problem With Plastic?

By now, I’m sure everyone reading this knows that plastic isn’t great for many reasons. In fact, it can be extremely toxic to wildlife, landfill, waterways, wildlife and even humans. The amount of time it takes to break down and the toxic residue it leaves behind are two of the main drawbacks.

Some key reasons plastic is seen as ‘bad’, particularly for single-use items include:

  • The manufacturing process of plastic uses high amounts of electricity and water, while releasing large amounts of greenhouse gasses.
  • Plastic can take anywhere from 20 to 500 years to decompose or break down in any environment, including landfill. 
  • When plastic decomposes, it breaks down into small pieces that may not be visible to the naked eye, however, these small pieces of plastic will never fully decompose and will potentially contaminate water, soil and air.
  • Plastic can harm wildlife as they can get caught up in plastic – on land and in the ocean – or they can consume small pieces of plastic which will kill them either via choking or other health consequences or injury.
  • Plastic products have been found to be toxic to humans. This is due to the chemicals added to plastics and then absorbed by humans, such as from water or other bottles. Microplastics entering the human body through ingestion or inhalation can also be toxic.
  • There have also been studies shown that certain chemicals found in plastic can leach out of the plastic and into food and beverages. This has been linked to health problems such as reduced fertility, cancers or metabolic disorders.

Read more about the drawbacks of plastic in this article.


Why Can’t We Live Without Plastic?

Unfortunately at this point, banning plastic completely isn’t possible. Until there are alternatives for everything from building supplies and medical implants to water bottles and toys, it’s not possible to ban plastic in its entirety.

To put it simply, banning plastic isn’t possible because it is used in so many different areas of life. It would take many decades or centuries to replace plastic with viable alternatives. Whilst governments are able to ban plastics such as single-use (straws, cutlery, containers), it’s not possible right now for other plastic uses.

Other reasons we can’t ‘live without plastic’ yet include:

  • Plastic can also be somewhat valuable in terms of recycling and upcycling so there’s that money to be lost.
  • Plastic is also cheaper to manufacture than most alternatives, meaning when making in bulk, traditional plastic is cheaper in terms of money.
  • People will switch to alternatives that aren’t any better – for example, paper bags use large amounts of trees and energy to produce as a plastic alternative.
  • Plastics aren’t the biggest issue with pollution – solvents and cleaning chemicals also pose a great risk to the ocean and environment.
  • Switching from plastics may encourage people to be less eco-minded in other choices. For example, they have recycled or used compostable plastics so don’t consider which cleaning chemicals or how much meat they purchase.
  • Weaker or less resilient alternatives in important items – compostable and biodegradable are often a bit weaker, with bags ripping easier or not holding liquid. For important items such as packaging, medical supplies or implants, this could pose an issue.

Read more about countries banning plastics in this blog.

United States Plastic Bag Legislation By State

What are common ways to reduce plastic?

There are many ways to reduce plastic including:

  • Upcycling your plastics – think crafts, other uses, multiple uses
  • Recycling your plastics where possible – consider making some pocket money from recycling bottles
  • Reducing use of plastics by finding reusable alternatives
  • Consider using compostable or biodegradable plastics instead of plastic
  • Be mindful when disposing of traditional plastics.

There are some great alternatives when it comes to plastic, such as biodegradable and compostable. These are currently on the market and can replace items such as carry bags, trash bags and pet poop bags, as well as certain food service items.

There are also a great range of metal, bamboo and glass reusable items such as food containers, coffee cups and water bottles. Plastic bags also come in fabric, recycled plastic and crochet.


Benefits Of Choosing Plastic Alternatives

The benefits of plastic alternatives are vast, specifically when it comes to bioplastics, some include:

  • Biodegradable will break down more rapidly in a landfill environment – in months or a year rather than thousands of years.
  • Compostable can return to a natural state when composted in a composter or worm farm.
  • Safe for humans, wildlife, animals and the environment (mostly for biodegradable).
  • Less greenhouse emissions released during manufacturing.
  • Less electricity and water used during manufacturing.

It should be noted that biodegradable plastic can leave behind some toxic residue when breaking down, due to the plastic components still present in the plastic. Reusable options are also a great choice as they are often stronger, more durable and can be used many, many times before upcycling or disposing of.

Learn more about bioplastics in this article.

what is bioplastic?

What Are New Discoveries That Lessen Plastic Use Or Waste?

There are many researchers, scientists and manufacturers around the world creating new discoveries or approaches all the time toward lessening our use of plastic or reducing waste/landfill contribution from traditional plastics.

We’ll highlight several of these in this blog.

Endlessly Recyclable Materials

Unfortunately, there are too many amounts of plastic in the world’s oceans – from large waste to micro plastics. It’s estimated that there is around 269,000 tons of macro and micro pieces of plastic across all the oceans. 

Research estimates around 8.3 billion tons of plastic has been produced since the 1950s. They estimate around 60 per cent of that plastic has ended up in landfill or the natural environment. Our planet is really getting overtaken by plastic and this has devastating impacts across all levels of life and environment.

So this means that any time we can recycle plastic infinitely, this is a step forward toward lowering these amounts of plastic pollution. Enter chemists in California who are working on new reactions that could break plastics into molecules able to be reused.

A project at the University of California has had success with a class of plastic including polyethylene using a technique to break plastics into smaller molecules which could then be used in detergents, paints or even pharmaceuticals.

Another project at the same university adds tiny enzyme-containing capsules to plastic which means it can be processed, heated and stretched into other useful objects. All that’s needed is a soak in lukewarm water for a week or so to release the enzymes and digest the plastic into small molecules.

You can read more about these projects here. https://www.newscientist.com/article/mg25333763-000-endlessly-recyclable-materials-could-fix-our-plastic-waste-crisis/ 


Breaking Down Plastic With Special Bacterium

The University of Portsmouth have succeeded in engineering a better-performing version of a previously discovered bacterium called PETase and combining it with another called MHETase to form a super enzyme that digests Polyethylene terephthalate (PET) plastics at six times the speed.

Scientists in Japan had first found this bacterium in 2016. 

Find out more in this article. https://newatlas.com/environment/enzyme-tpado-plastic-simple-molecule/ 


Green Enterprise Finds New Function And Home For Plastic Waste

Just recently a social enterprise in Muntinlupa, Philippines launched a recycling project turning plastics such as food wrappers and plastic sachets (soft plastics) into eco-boards or panels which are similar to plywood.

Their aim is to boost the value of single-use sachets that include metallized parts so they can have another life. The eco-boards could be used in theory for construction and housing. The process includes compression molding or the application of heat and pressure, processing around four eco-panels an hour.

A study by the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA) in 2019 showed that 164 million pieces of sachets are being used by Filipinos everyday, or nearly 60 billion pieces annually. 

Find out more at this link. https://news.abs-cbn.com/life/03/19/22/green-firm-finds-new-use-and-home-for-plastic-waste 

New Discoveries To Reduce Plastic Use


By now we’re all aware that we need to reduce our plastic use and find better alternatives including better ways of disposing or reusing plastics. There are many companies and researchers around the world doing just that.

New approaches, discoveries and projects are all helping to show the world that we CAN reduce our use of plastics or at least find ways to reuse them and protect our environment. This reduces landfill contributions, micro plastics in the waterways and also protects wildlife and marine life.

There are a lot of new discoveries or approaches to reducing plastic use, which include more eco-friendly plastic alternatives such as compostable plastic, but also recycling options including a new enterprise which turns some plastic waste into eco-boards or panels not dissimilar to plywood.

These innovative ideas will hopefully lead to a cleaner future without billions of tons of plastic ending up in the environment or sitting in landfill for decades or even centuries.



    We’re on the mission to research the best sustainable products and these are what we found, these are the questions that we are asking. Disclaimer, we are not scientist but we are heavy researchers and we are passionate about sustainability.