Plastics are a light weight, durable material that can be used in number of diverse ways. It is increasingly in use in today’s world in packaging, building materials, consumer goods, transportation, electronics to name a few . The amount of plastics produced and consumed is immense and this means the need to recycle becomes increasingly important.
So why is recycling plastics considered to be a complex issue?
- Recycling of materials such as metal, glass and paper is relatively known and manageable. Glass and metal can come back in the same form, plastics cannot. Plastics need to be changed into other forms, made into other products, for it to be reused. Unlike glass, plastic cannot be sterilized to make containers suitable for holding food so most recycled plastics become fibre for carpets or other products.
- There is a high cost in collecting and transporting plastics. They occupy a large space and they are bulky. A high volume is needed to be able to be recycled and most small areas and towns may not be able to produce the amounts needed for recycling purposes. One option is to ensure towns have equipment that reduces plastics into a denser form.
- There are advantages to recycling plastic. It takes about 80% less energy to create products from recycled products than from the original material resin. There is the option of converting untainted plastic into its original resin form to create new products.
- Recycling plastics needs collectors, processors, reclaimers and end users or consumers. Collection programs are required from the public, the industry, the government and businesses like. Processors would sort out the plastic and make it into a dense material which makes it easy to ship. Reclaimers would transform this product into other materials and consumers would then use this recycled product.
- There are quite a number of businesses that have taken this up, however some plants still operate way below their capacity which is a challenge.
- More education and awareness needs to be done to educate the public on the use and reuse of plastics while businesses need to see the opportunity of taking this up either as a business venture or as a conservation effort. Laws can be put in place to encourage use of recycled plastics thus increasing their use.
All in all, the use of plastics is still an integral part of our world and we need to find ways to recycle it for better environment conservation.
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