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This piece was originally published by InvestigateWest.

When dealing with the life cycle of plastic, hundreds of solutions await, from alternative bioplastics that might be able to degrade themselves through the magic of fungus, to complex chemical recycling that can break plastics down to become other petroleum products or to be rebuilt good as new

But as promising as chemical recycling and next-generation plastics may sound, experts also say some of the most realistic solutions to plastic pollution involve eliminating it from packaging as much as possible.

Decision-makers are asking: How can manufacturers design their plastic packaging to be recycled more easily after consumers are done with it? Should packaging all be the same color of plastic to avoid dye-based contamination in recycling processes? Could markers on different types of plastic help imaging robots at sorting facilities do their jobs better when diverting containers by type? Which products could avoid using plastic altogether?

Currently, the vast majority of plastic recycling is done by mechanical methods. First, post-consumer plastics are divided by number; for example, ... Read more

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