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Worth gold

Sophie Langer-Hansel, corporAID

Issue 79 - January | February 2019

Sophie Langer-Hansel, corporAID
Sophie Langer-Hansel, corporAID

If you were to throw the gold that has been mined so far in a large trash can, it would only have to be 20 x 20 x 20 meters. Because gold is scarce - and therefore valuable. Hardly anyone would think of actually throwing it away. Instead, the motto is “recycle and reuse”. The gold business is a circular economy par excellence. It's different with plastic.

Plastic waste takes up an area of ​​1,6 million km2 in the North Pacific alone, or around 20 of Austria's. Plastic is not in short supply, nor is it valuable in terms of global recycling rates. The existing incentives are apparently too few for a functioning plastic recycling economy. Because even in countries like Austria with effective recycling systems, it's all too often about downcycling or incineration - not least because the acceptance of recycling material is finite. One detail seems to be forgotten: There is gold in every piece of plastic. Black gold. With the right technology, any pile of plastic trash can be turned into an oil well.

Photo: Mihai M. Mitrea