This Article Provides the Perfect Overview of Plastic Recycling

An Overview of Plastic Recycling
Like diamonds, plastic polymers are forever. However, this non-degradable item appears to be a serious threat to the environment. Here is an overview with a few facts about plastic waste...
The manufacturing of plastic began during World War II, and was a result of experiments conducted by petrochemical industries. The term plastic is derived from the Greek term plastikos meaning fit for molding. Its main feature is that it does not decompose easily; this is also a negative point. Plastic materials, such as bottles, wrappers, and containers, if dumped, do not decompose, but instead cause environmental pollution.

Since plastics does not degrade, they are broken down using a process called photo degradation. During this process it becomes brittle and then breaks downs into bits. Plastics are considered as one of the pollutants causing serious environmental issues, because they end up in waterways that eventually flow into the oceans. Accumulation of plastic in the ocean endangers marine life and pollutes the water.

Does the Plastic Continent Exist?

Yes, the plastic continent does exist and was discovered by Captain Charles Moore almost a decade ago. It is twice the size of Britain, and is the region that lies between the Hawaii Islands and California in the central Pacific Ocean. According to the reports of Captain Charles Moore, instead of clear ocean waters he could see only mounds of plastic waste, such as bottles, and wrappers. He believes plastic wastes started accumulating in the 1950s.

This continent is a man-made continent of floating waste. Sailors and fishermen have avoided this region for years. The reasons are
  • No fish survive due of the lack of nutrients.
  • Lacks the wind that is essential for sailing.
To further research ocean pollution, Captain Moore founded the Algalita Marine Research Foundation. Other organizations such as Greenpeace supported his cause. Reports of the United Nations Environment Program reveal millions of seabirds and marine mammals dying to due the invasion of plastics.

Waste plastics that are believed to be recycled are, in fact, being dumped into the oceans. Marine animals mistake these for food and nibble them. This leads to their death, that affects the marine food chain. To save the oceans from the plastic continent the use of plastics need to be reduced; plastic bags and containers need to be re-used instead of being discarded.

Recycling Plastics

Mechanical Recycling
Plastic waste should be sorted out before the process of mechanical recycling. Mechanical recycling involves processes such as washing, shredding, melting, and granulation.

Chemical Recycling
Chemical recycling is also known as feedstock recycling. In this process, wastes are broken down to polymers by using various recycling technologies such as pyrolysis, hydrogenation, thermal cracking, and gasification.

A wide array of products are made from recycled plastics. Some of these include bags, garbage bin liners, window frames, CD cases, garden furniture, and various office accessories, such as trays, stands, and so on. Recycled plastics are also made into flowerpots, plumbing pipes, toys, carpets, and insulation.

Facts about Recycling Plastic

► On an average Americans throw away two million plastic bottles an hour.
► PET or Poly Ethylene Terephthalate has the recycling code #1.
► Soda bottles made from PET are the most recycled plastic containers.
► At the time of recycling, 35 PET soda bottles make enough fiberfill to fill a sleeping bag.
► One-third of the carpets manufactured in the US have recycled PET bottles in it.
► You can make a six-foot bench using around 1,100 recycled milk cans.
► High-density polyethylene plastic, used to make juice bottles and milk cans, can be recycled to make goods like flowerpots, trash cans, and curbside garbage bins.
► Statistics show that a ton of HDPE plastic costs around $400. It is believed around 75% of the HDPE plastic that is manufactured are use-and-throw containers.
► Around 55% of recycled PET is used in the manufacturing of carpet and clothes.
► 21% of recycled PET is used to make food and non-food containers.
► 45% of recycled HDPE plastics are used in making new bottles to store fruit juice and milk.
► HDPE is also used to make garden products such as edging, picnic tables, benches, and many more.
► It is estimated about 6-8% of the solid waste of the United States consists of plastic.
► It takes 700 years for a plastic bottle to decompose and mix with the earth.

The judicious use of plastic is a necessity today. Due to the fact that it does not decompose easily, plastic is fast becoming a very hazardous pollutant.
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