[Editor's note: This letter is a response to Plastics News' Feb. 10 Material Insights video that reported on former Vice President Joe Biden's remarks in favor of a ban on single-use plastics.]
My solution: Employ reverse vending machines (which have already been invented) programmed to pay off like a lottery would, meaning only occasionally, and which would accept each type of plastic item that we want to recycle, including straws, or cups, or lids, or bottles, or multipack carriers, and where separate machines would detect and only accept the correct item inserted.
I guarantee that every item would be returned (by someone), if there was a chance for a big payoff, even though, just as in a lottery system, the payoff happens only rarely! And we would achieve automatic and nearly flawless separation if recyclable items were accepted by separate machines by type and by material.
I can tell you, as a recycler, that efficient and automated separation by material and item would improve the economics of recycling by a "huge" amount!
Founder, Chairman Emeritus
Plastic Technologies Inc.