Reduce the use of plastic and repurpose the plastic it does use for other needed uses.
"In 2022, as in the previous 4 years, the staff at the Rosebud Continuum refused to take out the garbage. This was inspired in part by the University of South Florida Patel College of Global Sustainability class titled "Waste Not Want Not: Reconsidering Refuse as Resource”
Prior to 2022 the staff were cleaning, separating and storing their plastics in 27 gallon totes, stacked up outside on racks. They accumulated 16 full totes -- roughly 400 uncompressed gallons by volume of "plastic residuals".
In 2022 they were able to procure a "precious plastics shredder" and a "Plastic granulator". They used the granulator to break down bottle caps, plastic forks, spoons, knives and other small items and the shredder to break down everything up to gallon milk jugs.
The 16 totes were reduced in volume to a mere 2 totes, roughly 50 gallons of shred roughly 5 mm in size.
They discovered a way to substitute plastic shred for sand in their concrete mix (1 part cement, 2 part plastic shred). They found that they could stop separating our plastics. The cement binds with all of their plastic and they use it to make sculptures like the "shapecrete" sculptures you see at theme parks.
They previously made one of the legs of their biodigester "dragon" out of this mix and are now making a giant gopher tortoise fountain that kids can play on.
The irony is that they have now run out of plastic. It could take another year to accumulate enough to finish the sculpture so we are now building a second larger Precious plastics shredder and asking the students to pitch in with their plastic residuals, which they used to refuse!
The plastic, bound in the concrete mix in a permanent statue, will be sequestered and not find its way to landfill or to nature.
It turns out they actually don't have enough plastic "waste" when they stop wasting it and start putting it to use at the home and local scale. Their hope is others will consider this strategy and others for making sure that we all participate in the circular economy."