One of the trickiest things about plastics is their disposal. While they were once hailed as a technology, plastics have become a source of concern – improper disposal has led to many environmental consequences. Understanding how plastic waste disposal works and drawbacks to each method can help you make a disposal choice that’s right for you.
It is possible to dispose of plastic in landfills, however, it is the method with the most drawbacks. Landfills take up an incredible amount of space and the potential use of plastics is lost when they are disposed of by landfill. Additionally, in areas with poorly managed dumps, plastic waste like bags and bottles can be blown out into the ocean and waterways. If plastics are allowed to stay in dumps, they will eventually start to decompose and leak pollutants.
When you Incinerate plastic it does have the ability to produce energy that can be harnessed for power. One pound of plastic creates the same amount of energy as a similar amount of coal when burned. Unfortunately, incinerating plastic also leads to more extreme pollution. Most plastics are made with PVC and halogenated additives that become dioxins and polychlorinated-biphenyls when they are in the environment.
When working with traditional plastics, recycling is one of the many options as it allows the plastic to get the most use from their lifespan. Recycling is often poorly utilized due to poor collection or sorting. In some cases plastics that are intended for recycling wind up being recklessly disposed of and make their way back to waterways. Recycling is the best option, but it must be utilized in combination with an aware public.
The last current option is for biodegradable plastics, which will compost with the help of living organisms. The potential for biodegradable options is one that could solve many of the waste issues associated with plastics, however, there is some concern that they may release metals as they decompose.
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