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  • Giles Stuart - Tech Journalist

Sir David Attenborough is backing new tech that recycles plastic

Broadcaster and natural historian, Sir David Attenborough, along with other naturalists, has appears in a new campaign for a new plastic recycling technology in the UK, calling for better protection fir the world's oceans. The campaign initiates with the UK construction of a new recycling facility, a world first, with the firm behind the project claiming that their technology is capable of recycling all types of plastics. The process is hoped to recycle a larger proportion of plastic, which currently is about 300 million tons of plastic waste produced worldwide and the process will lead to much less plastic ending up in our oceans.

In the video, released by UK recycling firm Mura Technology.“What’s so tragic about plastic pollution is that it is so totally unnecessary. The plastic in our oceans should never have found its way there in the first place.” says Attenborough. In the video, Attenborough is joined by the prominent marine biologist and campaigner Dr Sylvia Earle, and Jo Ruxton, producer of the 2016 Netflix documentary A Plastic Ocean.

HydroPRS, branded as Mura’s recycling process, took 12 years to develop and uses supercritical steam, superheated under great pressure which breaks down plastics back into the oils and chemicals they were made from. Those components can then be used for a range of products, from new plastics to fuels.

The HydroPRS process offers a viable recycling route for materials considered ‘unrecyclable’, that would otherwise be destined for landfill, incineration and the environment. HydroPRS can convert all plastic types back into their constituent ingredients, for re-use in the manufacture of new plastic materials.

With this new production process there is no limit to the number of times plastic can be recycled using the process, and the process is even able to separate organic materials from plastics such as food packaging. Those organic materials are in turn used to fuel the boilers at the heart of the process.

The new Mura plant is being built in Teesside, northeast England, and the plans are to roll the technology out worldwide. It has received government support, with Rebecca Pow, the UK under-secretary of state for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, saying: “The Government is committed to both clamping down on the unacceptable plastic waste that harms our environment and ensuring more materials can be reused instead of being thrown away. By investing in these truly ground-breaking technologies, we will help to drive these efforts even further, and I look forward to seeing them develop and deliver real results.”

With more than 8 million tons of plastic waste ending up in the ocean every year, new methods to cope with plastic waste are desperately needed. It is destroying critical ocean ecosystems, these plastics break down into micro-plastics, which can now be found in almost every food system on Earth, including in our drinking water, table salt, and even in the air.


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