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In this post you can read about the many ways we dispose of plastic.
Most plastics are made from oil and most plastics do not biodegrade. See how and why here…
which  makes it difficult to dispose of.

There are no natural processes in place that can absorb non biodegradable  plastic back into the biological cycle. It cannot be composted or left to rot where it is dropped or dumped like organic rubbish. Read more about the plastic lifespan here.

Most plastic lasts  for decades, maybe centuries, possibly for ever.

WHICH MEANS that every bit of plastic created has to be collected up and specially treated. All of these processes are time-consuming and so expensive.

Main methods are
Landfill
Recycling and Reusing
Incineration & Waste to Energy –
Gasification
Pyrolysis
Thermal depolymerization

Landfill

Just A big hole that we fill with rubbish. The theory was that waste would slowly biodegrade. Plastics do not biodegrade so once in a landfill it will sit there forever. That said turns out that a lot of rubbish in landfill sites do not biodegrade. William Rathje, of the University of Arizona, excavates landfill sites and  has found  newspapers printed in the 1950s that could still be read. Consequently the landfill is rapidly filling up.

Recycling and Reusing 

Let’s be clear about this recycling is just a more responsible form of waste management. That stuff in your recycle bin is still rubbish and has to be dealt with the attendant environmental and financial costs. While recycling may offset these costs it is still expensive. Moreover recycling does not address the main issue of misusing plastic and stupidly using it to make one use throwaway items.

With that in mind lets look at plastic recycling.

Incineration & Waste to Energy –

Incinerating plastic which means burning it.  At best this adds to global warming and at worst releases dioxins on of the most carcinogens known.  Sometimes using the heat created is used to generate electricity which offsets the cost of waste disposal.
N.B. only offsets!

Other Plastic To Energy Processes

Technofix – updates on the latest ways to sort it out

Plastic Waste & The Poor

As noted all the above are expensive. They require special treatment facilities, a decent infrastructure of roads and a reliable rubbish collection service. Theses facilities are often not available to poorer communities, certainly not those based in the more remote parts of the world.  They have two methods of plastic waste disposal

Burning plastic – On open fires could be safe or it could kill you – depends on the plastic  Find out more here

Dumping  –  on the outskirts of town, a major cause of plastic pollution and potential death for  animals who forage there.
Read about plastic and animals here

And more about the other problems with plastic here….

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