Global plastic upcycling during and after the COVID-19 pandemic: The status and perspective

J Environ Chem Eng. 2023 Jun;11(3):110092. doi: 10.1016/j.jece.2023.110092. Epub 2023 May 9.


Plastic pollution has become one of the most pressing environmental issues worldwide since the vast majority of post-consumer plastics are hard to degrade in the environment. The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic had disrupted the previous effort of plastic pollution mitigation to a great extent due to the overflow of plastic-based medical waste. In the post-pandemic era, the remaining challenge is how to motivate global action towards a plastic circular economy. The need for one package of sustainable and systematic plastic upcycling approaches has never been greater to address such a challenge. In this review, we summarized the threat of plastic pollution during COVID-19 to public health and ecosystem. In order to solve the aforementioned challenges, we present a shifting concept, regeneration value from plastic waste, that provides four promising pathways to achieve a sustainable circular economy: 1) Increasing reusability and biodegradability of plastics; 2) Transforming plastic waste into high-value products by chemical approaches; 3) The closed-loop recycling can be promoted by biodegradation; 4) Involving renewable energy into plastic upcycling. Additionally, the joint efforts from different social perspectives are also encouraged to create the necessary economic and environmental impetus for a circular economy.

PMID:37200549 | PMC:PMC10167783 | DOI:10.1016/j.jece.2023.110092


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