Trash bags, diapers, mouthwash containers, shampoo containers, beverage containers, toys, mobile phones, gadgets, furniture, automobiles, and office equipment are just a few of the plastic you and I use every day.
We use plastic every day, especially disposable plastics and this has harmed our environment in ways that will surprise you.
Plastic waste is fast becoming a growing sector of the urban solid waste system of the world. In the US alone, it grew from less than a percent to more than twelve percent in the last half a century, according to a report by the environmental protection agency.
Once discarded, plastics could take up to a couple of centuries before it breaks down. This property alone makes plastic waste management a tough job. Hence, recycling plastic is the next logical way to go.
The three Rs: Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle. Though short, this perfectly defines the mission of recycling. To reduce is to decrease our production and consumption of plastics. To reuse plastics is to use the usable plastic for another purpose. Recycle is to convert waste plastics into usable plastic materials.
Recycling plastics has helped the environment in so many ways and I’ll be glad to let you some of them.
Reuse of material reduces the amount of material that you do not need. Reusing is a way to depopulate the plastic material going into waste. Need I remind you that this waste is going into the environment? Recycling reduces the impact of plastics on the environment. What this means is that the number of waste plastic materials being introduced into the environment is limited by the amount of plastics material recycled.
The chemical properties of plastic make it durable when you compare it to other materials of the same size. This property makes it good for use but it is bad news for the environment once the plastic material is discarded. While it takes paper a few months to degrade under the influence of natural influences, the story is not the same as plastics.
Some very durable plastic can take up to a thousand years before it can decompose completely. This makes it stay long (practically unchanged) in the environment which is a burden on the environment – the landfills can testify. Therefore, recycling plastics eases off the burden on the environment to decompose the plastics.
One thing that usually throws a lot of people off (consumers and investors alike) is that recycling requires energy. It requires both conscious efforts and willpower to repurpose discarded plastic materials. You might need to put it in mind at first before it becomes a habit. The energy needed for recycling is not as much as what is required to produce new ones. That’s not taking into account the energy required to discard the waste plastic material. The truth is, you get to save a lot of energy on manufacturing, logistics and consumption. This is essentially good for the environment.
One major supply of energy to plastic manufacturing is a fossil fuel. In the last decade, an average of two hundred million barrels of crude oil was used to make plastic. This account does not include the four hundred and fifty cubic feet of natural gas used in plastic manufacturing. Plastic recycling reduces the amount of required fossil fuel needed to manufacture plastic. Recycling plastic saves the raw material (all derivatives of fossil fuel) required to make new plastics and the fuel required to produce heat and power in the manufacturing process.
The process of manufacturing produces greenhouse gases. Reduction in the production of plastic directly reduces the amount and variety of greenhouse gases emitted. Since recycling takes less energy, it directly means that a smaller amount of greenhouse gas will be emitted into the environment.
Greenhouse emission is not the only environmental pollution associated with the production and use of plastic. Some several other emissions and wastes result from plastics. Recycling helps keep these waste plastic out of the landfill.
A landfill is a major site of pollution. If you have been to a landfill, you will notice that not only is the land polluted, but the air and water are polluted. Plastic wastes also emit toxic substances as they are exposed to weather and corrosive materials. This could leak into the atmosphere or water bodies, recycling helps to keep this pollution at bay.
Plastic waste has been harming the aquatic ecosystem at an alarming rate. Same problems plague the land especially in the city where plastic waste has been injected into the ecosystem in their thousands by the day. Recycling keeps a lot of plastic materials from entering into the ecosystem as waste and this helps to keep the natural habitat as pristine as possible. Plants and animals, including man, now partake in the benefit of plastic recycling. Though very small presently, we are sure to see better results soon.
Have you noticed that waste materials do not eventually move? It will get to a point in the waste life of the plastic that it will stop moving. Whenever they do, they occupy space. Space in the landfill, space on the floor of the ocean, space that clogs up rivers and drainages. But when you recycle the plastic that keeps moving around, it keeps plastic waste out of the landfill and the water bodies.
We all know that innovation is good for the environment. Recycling plastic is a good way to show creativity. I am certain you have seen the creative ways discarded plastics have been used. The current commercial application is still limited but the awareness created by using recycled plastic has inspired a lot of individuals and corporations to start plastic recycling projects.
You don’t need to wonder what creating jobs have to do with the environment. Well, a human being is a part of the ecosystem and whatever is good for a part of the ecosystem is good for the entire ecosystem. Recycling has created jobs for both the poor, inexperienced individuals to the rich and trained personnel. There is a part for everyone to play in the recycling process. Creating jobs in turn creates wealth for individuals, organizations and government. This has a positive impact on the environment.
There is no doubt about the usefulness of plastic substances. It is durable, strong and at the same time cheap to make but the time it takes for it to decompose is the problem we are to solve by recycling it. The act of recycling will not only reduce the new plastic being produced and save energy, but it will also make our environment clean and habitable in the long run.