Info Hub

Web of Sustainability: Plastics & Websites

Cover Image for Web of Sustainability: Plastics & Websites

Have you ever wondered about the common threads between websites and plastics? It is likely that only a few of us have ever pondered this question, but it is an interesting one. At first glance, it might seem like websites and plastic are crossing paths tangentially. Sure, computers and hardware contain plastic parts, and there are websites about plastics. However, there is a much deeper thread that connects them.

The Good

For one, the modern world we live in is unimaginable without plastics or websites. They permeate every pore of our contemporary lifestyle. While plastic forms the backbone of many of the products we use, websites are the backbone of the modern digital age.

Without websites, we wouldn't be able to access the vast amount of information that is available to us online. The World Wide Web radically transformed the way we work, learn, communicate, and do business. Websites allow us to go beyond the barriers of the physical world.

Plastics, on the other hand, have made it possible to create new products and package goods more efficiently. They have made it possible to create new medical devices, improve automotive safety, and reduce food waste. They have also helped to make our lives more convenient and comfortable, by providing us with everything from water bottles to smartphones.

The Bad

On the flip side, both the plastics industry and the web have been created using a linear and unsustainable model focused on production and consumption, without considering end-of-life disposal and cleanup.

Although it is common knowledge that we have a plastic pollution problem, the environmental impact of websites is a less obvious issue. Plastic is tangible, while software is intangible. The language that we use to refer to the web - “the cloud” misleads us towards thinking that software is nebulous, non-material, and is not consuming physical space and resources of our planet. This is likely the reason why so many of us remain blind to the shockingly large & detrimental environmental impact of the web.

All of the web lives and exists physically on servers that are power hungry - they consume extremely large amounts of electricity, because they have to run 24/7, and have to be kept cool. For the majority of data centers around the globe, this energy is produced by burning fossil fuels. In that process we produce greenhouse gas emissions and exacerbate our climate change problem.

According to The Sustainable Web Manifesto that cites information from this science article published in 2021:

If the internet was a country, it would be the 4th largest polluter in the world

Screenshot of the Sustainable Web Manifesto website

For more details on the energy cost of the internet, we recommend reading this InterestingEngineering's article.

Our Outlook

EcoPlastiC aims to revolutionize how we deal with plastics by creating a circular model that mimics nature's approach. In this model, the output of one cycle becomes a valuable input for the next. Our goal is to develop technology that can turn unrecyclable mixed plastic waste into biopolymers, which are the building blocks for a new generation of plastics, called ecoplastics.

After serving their purpose, ecoplastic packaging and products would be depolymerized into their constituents, which retain their high-performance qualities and can be used to create new products of the same high quality. Our aim is to develop a perpetually bio-recyclable system.

Our approach is a bold step forward. It is a high-risk/high-gain project and as such it made a great candidate for EIC Pathfinder Open program. We dared to go beyond, and fully embody the project ethos - blaze new trails and boldly embrace new approaches and technologies not just in our project’s objectives, but in the technologies that power our web presence.

It is paradoxical to have a sustainability mission that is promoted & disseminated through a slow, widespread but technologically outdated platforms that exacerbate the problem. Therefore, we made sure that the message of our sustainability pursuit is disseminated by a eco-conscious medium - a fast, sleek, best in class sustainable & performant website. In the spirit of true circularity we developed a modern technology-towards science solution that complements our breakthrough science-towards-technology mission.

Snapshot of the Carbon footprint result for this website stating that it is cleaner than 88% of all tested websites, producing only 0.12g of carbon dioxide per visit

We are proud to feature The Website Carbon Calculator badge at the footer of our website. Our website is "cleaner" than 88% of all pages tested, and produces only 0.12g of CO2 per visit.

If you share this mission and passion towards sustainability, we invite you to look and think about websites with this expanded perspective, and enquire about their sustainability. Run the website carbon calculator on your favorite websites. Alternatively, since website performance and quality are at the core of the environmental impact of websites, running Google's PageSpeed test would give you a good sense of the sites impact.

Not surprisingly, what is good for us and for our websites is good for the planet. We do not have to choose one over the other. Our website is a testimony that there is a better way, and we are capable of finding it once we break our silos, and collaborate on solving our world’s challenges holistically, rather than in vacuum and isolation between fields and domains. For that very reason, we take our task of project dissemination and communication seriously, and aim to reach a diverse audience of people united by their desire for better, greener future.

European Union logo

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon Europe EIC Pathfinder programme under grant agreement No 101046758

European Innovation Council logo

The project leading to this application has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon Europe EIC Pathfinder programme under agreement No 101046758

LegalTerms of usePrivacy policy

Stay tuned!

Join our newsletter to receive project updates

EcoPlastic logo

Copyright © 2022 EcoPlastiC

Views and opinions expressed are of the author(s) only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union or European Innovation Council. Neither the European Union nor the granting authority can be held responsible for them.