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This story originally appeared on Foro Económico Mundial
By Kate Whiting , Senior Writer, Formative Content
What goes around comes around. That famous saying about the way we treat others could apply equally to the way we treat the planet.
The plastic waste we see dumped on clogged streets and beaches is one of the most visible examples of human impact on the environment – but now it’s coming back to haunt us.
Last summer, the World Health Organization called for an urgent investigation into the health impact of microplastics, after particles were found in drinking water.
The world produces more than 400 million tons of plastics each year, much of which is poorly managed after use – only 14-18% are formally recycled and more than half end up in landfills.
Brazilian materials engineer Guilherme Brammer was so frustrated by the lack of proper recycling that he saw in his hometown, São Paulo, that in 2011 he created a company in search of innovative solutions to breathe new life into raw materials.
Badly managed plastic waste
In 2010, Brazil produced approximately 12 million tons of plastic , the world’s fourth largest producer behind China, the US and Germany. At the same time, a study found that 7.2% of plastic waste in Latin America and the Caribbean was “poorly managed” – either being thrown away or improperly disposed of, meaning that it is more likely to ended up in the ocean.
Plastic mismanaged worldwide by regions / Image: Our world in data
“If it is difficult to ensure that materials that still have market value return to industry as raw material, what about worthless waste?” Brammer, a