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Amazon's mission to tackle plastic pollution

Words by Smiley Team

E-commerce giant Amazon has joined the US Department of Energy in tackling plastic pollution.

The company is joining the international BOTTLE consortium, which is a new initiative under the US. Department of energy. BOTTLE stands for “Bio-Optimized Technologies to keep Thermoplastics out of Landfills and the Environment,” and is led by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). 

“Finding a way to better recycle single-use plastics while reducing and ultimately eliminating their use is a grand challenge of our time, and we’re committed to pursuing scientific advancement to this end,” said Gregg Beckham, BOTTLE’s CEO and a senior research fellow at the NREL. “With Amazon’s innovation expertise, we’re excited to work together to find solutions that have the potential to have vast, positive impacts.”

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How will Amazon help?

Amazon is bringing its funding and innovation in to help speed up research in upcycling of plastic and will work with the consortium to find ways to better break down plastics and reach a net-carbon level.

The goal is to either transform used plastics into new, useful materials. It’s also a goal that these new materials will be biodegradable, so if they don’t make it back into a recycling system then they’ll break down significantly faster than plastic would. 

“One objective of our work with the BOTTLE Consortium is to develop an energy-efficient chemical processing technology that can break down or deconstruct a mixed waste stream of plastics with labile bonds (i.e., bonds that are easy to deconstruct) into valuable feedstock that can be used to make the same types of plastics (closed-loop recycling) or new plastics altogether (open-loop recycling),” Alan Jacobsen, a principal materials scientist with Amazon Sustainability, says in an Amazon release.

“And in the cases where these materials don’t make it into a future recycling stream, the molecular structure of these materials can be designed to biodegrade in natural environments.”

This is another step for Amazon in trying to improve our relationship with plastic. As of 2021, Amazon had reduced the outbound weight of packaging per shipment by 36%, a total of one million tons, while increasing the use of recyclable materials.

Inspired to act?

DONATE: You can donate to 1% for the Planet, an organization dedicated to removing plastic waste from the oceans, here.

FIND OUT MORE: You can also check out the BOTTLE consortium here.

This article aligns with the following UN SDGs

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