Please wait while the search results are loading...

Recyling Flourishes/Gasification Technology Looks Promising, Business and Industry Trends Analysis

Some U.S. cities have instituted programs, such as limiting trash pickup to every other week and mandatory recycling of certain types of waste, that have boosted both consumer awareness and recycling volume to levels never seen before.  In San Francisco, for example, a nation-leading 80% of garbage in the city is reused.  The city is able to accomplish this through aggressive measures such as banning non-compostable plastic bags in supermarkets and pharmacies (the ban applies to all retail stores, bakeries, shops and restaurants).  Shoppers without their own reusable bags are charged 10 cents for each paper bag supplied by the retailer.  A number of cities are following suit.  More importantly, San Francisco tightly controls practices for disposal of both household and commercial trash.  The city adopted the Mandatory Recycling and Composting Ordinance, requiring homes and businesses to sort compostable organic matter and recyclable trash into special containers.  Every home in San Francisco now has three color-coded trash cans:  one for non-recyclable, another for recyclables and a third for compostable food waste.
Recycling efforts have been around in a major way since the 1970s, and over time have grown to include newspapers and cardboard, aluminum cans, glass and plastic bottles and other containers.  Next on the recycling timeline came food scraps which some municipalities are collecting for composting, and unwanted consumer electronics such as out-of-date personal computers.  Future recycled items may include construction debris as a major category.  The West Coast has led the U.S. recycling charge, especially due to its proximity to Asia, which is the world’s largest market for recycled paper and plastic.
Some U.S. packaging manufacturers are picking up the tab for recycling their products, in a practice already underway in Europe, Asia, Latin America and Canada.  It benefits the manufacturers who need materials for production and eases the financial burden on municipality-owned recycling and waste programs.
Trash is of particular concern.  According to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, the weight of ocean plastic will equal that of fish by 2050.  Coca-Cola Co. unveiled a bottle in 2019 made partly of recycled marine trash.  Carpet tile manufacturer Interface, Inc. is using discarded fishing nets to make yarn for weaving.  There is some irony in this fishing net project, as, according to a study published by 15 scientists from multiple nations, 46% of the plastic refuse in the “Great Pacific Garbage Patch” is made up of fishing nets that have either been lost overboard or discarded.  Another massive ocean problem is plastic bottles and other consumer plastic waste from less developed nations.

SPOTLIGHT:  Plastic Bank
Plastic Bank (, a recycling collection center business based in Vancouver, Canada, offers payment for recovered plastic.  Collectors, who are typically living at or below poverty levels, drop off plastic waste at any center, which keeps a tally of deposits that collectors may track with a smartphone app.  Plastic Bank also offers loans to collectors which can be re-paid with gathered plastic waste.  Centers are built in partnership with existing local recycling centers and funded by major international companies such as S.C. Johnson & Son, Inc. 
The benefit for these companies is access to recycled materials for use in new packaging and well as positive marketing impact for consumers who want to support eco-friendly enterprises.  As of early 2022, Plastic Bank had centers in Haiti, Brazil, the Philippines, Indonesia and Egypt, and collectors had recovered 91.8 million pounds of ocean-bound plastic.

     Meanwhile, the U.S. military has developed a new alternative to garbage incineration that promises fewer harmful incineration byproducts and lowers the need for transporting and burying waste.  Plasma arc gasification breaks complex molecules into simple elements through extreme heat in excess of 9,000 degrees in an oxygen-poor chamber.  The heat is produced by two graphite electrodes which produce an arc of electricity.  Wood products disintegrate, plastics become gaseous and metal and glass melt.  The gas from plastics is a mixture of hydrogen and carbon monoxide which can be used as synthetic gas (syngas).  The molten slag left by glass and metal can be refined and used to make steel and other products, leaving contaminants that amount to about 1% of the total original waste.
A small-scale, pilot plasma arc gasification system is in operation in a 6,400-square foot building at Hurlburt Field Air Force base in Florida.  Run by a nonprofit, it is capable of producing about 350 kilowatts of electricity daily from 10 tons of garbage input per day, enough power to run the system on a self-sustaining basis.  Similar technology, using a 25-ton system created and owned by InEnTec (Waste Management, a massive, Texas-based waste disposal company in Texas, has a stake in InEnTec), is in operation at several locations in the U.S. and Japan. 
In yet another project, Fulcrum BioEnergy (, a California firm focused on generating energy from waste, built the Sierra Biofuels Plant outside Reno, Nevada using InEnTec plasma smelters.  The system has a capacity to produce 11 million gallons of renewable synthetic crude oil per year.
Another technology is chemical recycling, which uses chemicals to heat or break down plastic for reuse.  What sets the process apart from mechanical recycling is that the chemicals preserve the quality of the plastic, making it usable even through repeated recyclings.  BP PLC and Dow, Inc. are betting heavily on the process, as are Coca-Cola Co., Danone SA and Unilever.  Coca-Cola, which promised to use at least 50% recycled content in its packaging by 2030, is working with gr3n (a Swiss startup) and Ioniqa Technologies to advance the development of chemical recycling.
One of the toughest things to recycle is polypropylene, a stiff durable material used for packaging for shampoo and deodorant.  Only 3% of polypropylene is recycled compared to 29% of polyethylene terephthalate soft drink bottles.  Proctor & Gamble has licensed a new technology that purifies plastic at the molecular level, removing odors and colors and rendering clear, non-toxic pellets.  The process uses only about one-seventh of the energy needed to manufacture virgin polypropylene.  Startup PureCycle Technologies (, which is backed by Proctor & Gamble, built a $300 million plant in Hanging Rock, Ohio where it deployed the process on a commercial scale in July 2019.  In 2021, the company opened a plastic recycling prep facility in Winter Garden, Florida.
Advanced technologies will play a growing role in trash collection and recycling.  Rubicon Global (, based in Atlanta, Georgia, provides dumpster services, recycling, waste removal and sustainability reporting.  The firm also acts as a marketplace to connect businesses and trash haulers and serves more than 70 U.S. municipal and state governments with its RubiconSmartCity technology suite.  The suite equips trash trucks with cameras and software to track and analyze a wide variety of city concerns including overflowing trash bins, street potholes, contaminants in recycled items and more.
On a global basis, some of the highest recycling rates are found in Austria, Germany and South Korea.  Taiwan has also instituted significant recycling efforts that raised its trash recycling rate to 55% and its industrial waste recycling rate to 77%.  The capital city of Taipei, for example, requires disposal of all non-recyclable waste in blue plastic bags certified by the government at a cost of about three U.S. cents per bag.  Taiwanese law requires citizens to separate trash into general refuse, recyclables and kitchen waste categories.  Fines for not using certified trash bags or sorting trash are considerable.  In addition, Taiwan has a government-operated fund financed by manufacturers and sellers of selected recyclable containers (such as plastic soda bottles) which subsidizes the country’s trash collection and recycling efforts.
In recent years, much of the developed world shipped used plastic bottles, aluminum cans and paper junk mail to China where it was sorted, recycled and used to create new products.  China was the largest consumer of scrap material.  Science Advances reported that China imported 45% of the world’s plastic waste between 1992 and 2018.  In 2018, the country outlawed imports of mixed paper and plastic and also placed restrictions on other kinds of scrap material.  As a result, U.S. scrap exports to China fell 89% from early 2017 and late 2019.  Other former scrap importers, including India, Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam and Indonesia have followed suit and implemented their own bans which is tremendously impacting recycling programs in countries such as the U.S., Canada and many in the EU.  This leaves these nations with mature economies scrambling to adopt new methods for recycling.
China announced plans to ban the use of non-biodegradable plastic bags and single-use plastic straws in major cities by the end of 2020.  The ban will extend to all towns and cities by 2022 and fresh produce markets by 2025.  Plastic utensils and packaging used by the flourishing food delivery industry must also be reduced by 30% by 2025.

A Representative List of Organizations that Have Used our Research and Products:


I’m amazed at how much information is available and the various ways to access it. This will be a major resource for our serious job seekers.

Career Services, Penn State University

Plunkett Research Online provides a great ‘one stop shop’ for us to quickly come up to speed on major industries. It provides us with an overall analysis of the market, key statistics, and overviews of the major players in the industry in an online service that is fast, easy to navigate, and reliable.

Wendy Stotts, Manager, Carlson Companies

I really appreciate the depth you were able to get to so quickly (for our project). The team has looked through the material and are very happy with the data you pulled together.

Hilton Worldwide, Marketing Manager

We are especially trying to push Plunkett since all of our students have to do so much industry research and your interface is so easy to use.

Library Services, St. John’s College

We are especially trying to push Plunkett’s since all of our students have to do so much industry research and your interface is so easy to use.

Gary White, Business Materials Selector, Penn State University

Your tool is very comprehensive and immensely useful. The vertical marketing tool is very helpful, for it assists us in that venue, as well as targeting customers’ competition for new sales…The comprehensive material is absolutely fabulous. I am very impressed, I have to say!

Tammy Dalton, National Account Manager, MCI

The more I get into the database, the happier I am that we’ll have it–REALLY happy!!! Between the quality and affordability of your product, its appeal to and value for our users, and the inestimably ethical and loyalty-guaranteeing conduct of your business, I will always have more than sufficient praises to sing for Plunkett Research.

Michael Oppenheim, Collections & Reference Services, UCLA

Plunkett Research Online is an excellent resource…the database contains a wealth of useful data on sectors and companies, which is easy to search and well presented. Help and advice on how to conduct, export and save searches is available at all stages.

Penny Crossland, Editor, VIP Magazine
Real Time Web Analytics