The process of recycling, especially concerning plastic products, is not just some hippie communal concept or a politically correct fad. The need for a more efficient process and increased cooperation is serious and of eminent importance. The use of plastic has become so prevalent that it is in the best interest for future generations to reuse as much of it as possible. Plastic is not the problem so much as is the way we use, reuse, and dispose of it.
What is the Problem?
The United States is significantly lacking in the practice of recycling plastic
compared to other first-world countries and up-and-coming countries like China
— their efforts more than triple those of the United States. Currently, less than 30 percent of used plastic items are being recycled within the US. This leaves more than 70 percent to be distributed between landfills and debris on land and water.
A big problem with plastic waste is the short-term use of plastic items. This means that they are typically used to store a product that is purchased in a plastic package and is then discarded after the product is used or depleted. These plastic items tend to stay in rotation for about a year or less.
Not all plastic is biodegradable, least of all commonly used products, which means that these products must be eliminated by incineration or pyrolysis. Both processes require heat, but the former is burdened with issues concerning air contamination. The amount of plastic refuse on land and in water combined can completely cover a land mass the size of Argentina, some 1.074 million square miles. This waste is affecting other species, especially marine life, as fragments of polymers are ingested by wildlife.
If present-day trends are any indicator of our future with plastic, then the current problems will compound significantly over the next 20-25 years if changes are not implemented now.
Why Use Plastic in the First Place?
Plastic is durable and adaptable, which has put it in a category of popularity and practicality with brick, cement, and metal since the 1950s. In the 21st century, the number of uses for plastic products has grown to include food wrapping, drink and snack containers, airplane parts, and flame-retardant materials. This versatility makes plastic desirable, but it also poses a problem when it is not recyclable.
So, What is the Big Idea?
A solution has been suggested that changes the way that we look at plastic from the beginning of the manufacturing process itself. A system that starts with a plastic product that is intended to be recycled many times over can completely change the quality of life on Earth for all living things. The ideal situation would be one in which plastic products would be in a perpetual state of recycling.
Want to learn how your business can improve its recycling efforts? Give us a call today at Central Kentucky Fiber Resources!