The first pillar is Picaflor™. This pillar focuses on concepts and initiatives for waste reduction and circular economy. An analysis has been made of, in particular, the waste plastic problem in the world. Based on this, a follow-up study (Plastic4Life) is carried out with students from TU Delft. In addition, a concept plan and business case was realized for Plastic2Oil: an initiative with which waste plastics are recycled into pure oil in a cost-effective way, based on continuous-flow pyrolysis technology. This offers a (transitional) solution that gives value to waste plastics so that waste management becomes profitable and the waste plastic is removed from the environment (an important piece of the waste plastics puzzle).
Recent research from the Helmholtz Center for Environmental Research in Germany has shown that the plastic waste in the oceans is mainly caused by ten major polluting rivers in the world. The root cause lies in a lack of waste management (MisManaged Plastic Waste or MMPW) in cities and industry upstream in the rivers. In many cases there is no waste management at all, but the waste is just dumped into the river and then transported by the river to the sea. These ten rivers together account for 88-95% of the total volume of plastic discharged into the oceans. In absolute terms, this involves a mass of between 0.4 and 4 million tons of waste plastic per year, according to the researchers.
For Picaflores.org the question is where the efforts of the Picaflor pillar can best be directed. Removing waste plastic from the ocean is useful but has a negligible effect in relation to improving waste management at the upper reaches of the most polluting rivers.
The collection of the plastic in the rivers before it reaches the ocean also has more effect on pollution in the oceans. For the highest possible impact, Picaflor focuses on the one hand on the research into cost-effective pyrolysis technology for the recycling of plastic (Plastic2Oil study). This gives value to waste plastic and when waste plastic has value, people start collecting and returning to a collection point. It becomes more attractive for cities to do waste separation and processing. On the other hand, Picaflor focuses on a more in-depth analysis of the causes of the plastic waste mismanagement and where attention can best be focused to reach optimal impact. The latter is done in the Plastic4Life study with students from TU Delft. In a follow-up phase, attention will be focussed on the place where the greatest leverage can be achieved for the plastic problem. Raising consciousness and influencing the public opinion about the 10 polluting rivers and the need for plastic waste management has a high focus as well in the meantime.