UFlex, one of the largest polymer plastic companies in the world, and Plastic Patrol, an international movement that combines crowdsourcing and community activism to address single-use plastic pollution, recently screened the short documentary ‘The Hudson Project’ at the Core Club in New York City.

Along with the screening, the event highlighted the importance of open and productive conversation around plastic pollution to help identify solutions to address the challenge.

It included the launch of UFlex Group’s new global initiative Project Plastic Fix, as well as a panel discussion between FlexFilms International CEO and vice-chairman Anantshree Chaturvedi and Plastic Patrol founder Lizzie Carr.

According to Carr, in just the last two years, Plastic Patrol has conducted hundreds of cleanups, reaching thousands of people globally and removing more than 320t bags of waste from the natural world.

‘The Hudson Project’ follows her 170-mile paddleboarding expedition to draw attention to plastic pollution in America. Carr is dedicated to using her journeys to capture important data that educates the public on environmental issues and informs the industry and governments to find solutions to tackle the plastic crisis.

Through the Plastic Patrol app, waste collected on Plastic Patrol cleanups is documented and categorised. All data is analysed by partner sciences to inform and develop solutions to the pollution problem.

Carr said: “We are just scratching the surface by litter picking. Coupled with the ground activism, crowdsourcing through the Plastic Patrol app is a way of understanding the type, location and amount of plastic we are finding. This gives us better knowledge of the trends and patterns we need to address this problem effectively and with the urgency it requires.”

According to Carr, what started as one person has now become a global community. In fact, the Plastic Patrol app now has more than 250,000 pieces of waste logged across 68 countries.

She added: “Community is at the heart of Plastic Patrol and that’s what we are building, a like-minded community of people that truly care about this issue, which ultimately is what will drive change. This is a global problem that requires global change and this has to come at every level, including industry and government. One person can make a difference but it will take systemic change to solve the problem.”

UFlex’s Chaturvedi said: “Lizzie is trying to eradicate single-use plastic from nature, where it isn’t supposed to be, and as a plastics manufacturer, we are trying to achieve the same goal of making our environment plastic-free.

“We believe that plastic is a problem that can be solved; it’s a global catastrophic risk that we can put behind us, but we have to engineer ourselves out of the problem. Although it’s a challenge, there are avenues, but technology alone isn’t enough. It will take a combination of technology, plastic and people to solve this problem. Corporate choices and citizen behaviour are part of the solution.”

Project Plastic Fix 

To that end, UFlex has launched Project Plastic Fix, a pioneering sustainability initiative designed to clean up plastic waste and convert it into products that have an economic value. In essence, ‘waste becomes wealth’.

UFlex will eradicate plastic waste in four distinct ways through a mix of various methodologies it already practices. Firstly, it will recycle plastic waste into granules further used to make over 10,000 household and industrial products such as road dividers, outdoor furniture and dustbins.

Using a process called pyrolysis, it will reprocess plastic waste into fuel while producing zero greenhouse gas emissions.

The final two approaches include collecting and converting plastic bottle waste into a green, 100% PCR-grade packaging film called AsclepiusTM and converting plastic waste into 100% biodegradable biomass.

UFlex’s Project Plastic Fix is the only project in the world that shall have the technology to make plastic recyclable as well as biodegradable.

Project Plastic Fix is unique in that waste collection will be done by individuals directly engaged by UFlex, thus eliminating the ‘middleman’ that would typically see the largest benefit from these transactions.

UFlex is also proud that its Project Plastic Fix contributes to poverty alleviation, as the person responsible for collecting and depositing the waste receives the maximum return.

Chaturvedi commented: “Waste collection is more about economic value. When we think of waste management as an unimportant thing, it becomes a burden on all those who have to deal with it.”

To begin with, the initiative is being piloted in India, Poland and Mexico. In the future, UFlex will look at introducing the project to additional locations along the US East Coast and in the UK.

Chaturvedi said: “I believe that while plastic cannot be removed from everyday living, it can be used responsibly. We can have a solution to use the plastic that the world has already manufactured and ensure that it gets recycled and reused in the economy, in a variety of ways, without affecting the ecology.

“Project Plastic Fix advocates the message that the problem of plastic is fixable, achievable and there will come a time when we will look back and not believe that this problem ever existed.”