The circular economy's missing piece: Lasso

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The Circular Economy is an alternative to the traditional linear economy (make, use, dispose) where waste is minimised and the value of materials and resources is retained. We are developing a domestic recycling appliance that will play a key role in making the Circular Economy a reality.
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The Lasso appliance will empower people to properly closed-loop recycle their used materials in the home or workplace. The system will keep plastics, glass and metals separate so that it can wash, process and compact them – producing pure, valuable closed-loop recycled products ready for manufacturers to purchase and use again in new products.

In a Circular Economy, products are kept in use for as long as possible. They are then disassembled and processed to regenerate their component materials for re-use in new products. Movement toward a Circular Economy brings with it significant environmental and economic benefits. By gearing our manufacturing and consumption practices toward re-use we will be able to provide manufacturers with the materials required to produce new products through recycling. Research in the UK indicates that recycled plastic could supply nearly three quarters of all plastic demand.

Closed-loop recycling benefits the environment as less of the earth’s scarce natural resources must be extracted to produce the billions of products we use every day. Using recycled materials also saves energy as it takes a huge amount of effort to extract, transport and refine virgin materials. Because they’ve already been refined and processed, using recycled materials in manufacturing is cleaner and less energy-intensive than the alternative. For example, manufacturing with recycled aluminium cans uses 95% less energy than creating the same amount of aluminium with virgin materials.

Astonishingly 91% of plastic isn't recycled, which means it finds its way either into our environment or into landfill. The Ellen MacArthur Foundation estimates that this results in economic losses of between USD 80 to 120 billion per year. Not only does this cause incredible damage to the environment, it’s also a huge loss of value when this material could otherwise re-enter the economy.

Under the existing recycling system it's not possible for people to closed-loop recycle. In the current system we put all our recyclable materials together for collection. But once plastics, glass, metals etc. are mixed together and contaminated, it becomes too expensive to seperate them out again to achieve the level of purity required for closed-loop recycling. Lasso’s system will keep different types of used materials separate, and therefore pure, making closed-loop recycling possible and viable.

Philip Sanders

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