It’s a routine just about every person in the First World is familiar with. Grab a plastic bottle, use its contents until empty, and then throw it in the recycling bin. But what about the little plastic sauce container from the last time you ate take-out or the plastic wrapping on that pound of beef from the supermarket? What about the Styrofoam tray the meat came on? Those almost certainly ended up in the trash, and that means they ended up in a landfill.
Plastics are well-known to be incredibly resistant to decay. A prevalent dystopian image is the surface of the Earth millennia from now, practically smothered with plastic waste that no one ever figured out what to do with – the sole remnants of a wasteful civilization long outlived by its refuse. But what if there was another option, one that’s been under our noses – or rather, under our rotting logs – the whole time?