Why is there a war on plastics?

 

Why is there a war on plastics?

It makes no logical sense.  Sure…, concerned citizens and activists might win a battle with a ban against plastic bags every once in awhile.

But, while there are no hard and fast numbers, it’s estimated there’s somewhere between 250 to 300 million tons of plastics manufactured every year. 10% of plastics get recycled; the rest of it–millions and millions of tons go to landfills, or ends up as litter in the environment.

Should we capitulate?

Absolutely not! We just need to rethink our approach.

“Make plastics the complete environmental plus by making them biodegradable.”

Maybe we need to approach plastics as if we were practicing Judo. In Judo, you use your opponent’s energy to defeat him, and/or to teach him a lesson. The question is: Make plastics the complete environmental plus by making them biodegradable.

If we, as a society, had the will to manufacture biodegradable plastics, we could. The technology exists. But it’s really going to be necessary to come together, and re-frame the conversation about plastics. Is the plastics problem bad? Yes! There’s entirely too much waste. But when you start start thinking about biodegradable plastics, particularly in the context of landfill gas-to-energy, it becomes an entirely different conversation.

A formula for sustainable plastics

1. Manufacturers add specially-formulated pellets to create biodegradable plastics

During the manufacturing process, additives to manufacture biodegradable plastics are added to plastic products.

A simple 1% load to the most widely-used plastic resins to render the finished plastic products biodegradable while maintaining their other desired characteristics.

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A sustainable vision for recycling hydrocarbons from plastics

Recycling hydrocarbons from plastics

Recycling hydrocarbons from plastics

Recycling hydrocarbons from discarded plastics into energy or new products  would be an end-of-life scenario that could benefit everyone.

Thinking out loud: “What if all the discarded plastics that were sent to landfills were biodegradable and became a source of renewable energy?”

It’s estimated there’s somewhere between 250 to 300 million tons of plastics manufactured every year. 10% of plastics get recycled; the rest of it–millions and millions of tons–goes to landfills, or ends up as litter in the environment.

Imagine garbage trucks in communities around the world powered with renewable natural gas derived in part by no-cost biodegraded plastics from managed landfills. ”

Imagine garbage trucks in communities around the world powered with renewable natural gas derived in part by no-cost biodegraded plastics from managed landfills. 

Despite the best intentions, only 10% of plastics get recycled. Practically everything else ends up in landfills or in the environment; millions and millions of tons of plastics every year.

The fact is that anaerobically biodegraded garbage becomes carbon dioxide and methane gas, so if municipalities–and we, the people who live in them–desire to be good, socially responsible citizens, and do our part to reduce carbon emissions, it’s important that our cities, towns, and hamlets implement modern landfills, whether public or private, to capture these gases in landfill gas-to-energy programs.

Most modern landfill environments are either moist or actively managed; which means that the landfills accelerate the biodegradation process to produce energy in the form of CO2 and methane, which can then be used to produce renewable natural gas (RNG) energy to propel biodiesel engines or other such uses.

Instead of banning bags we should be biodegrading them

With this new scenario, instead of banning bags, communities would encourage merchants to use them. The value of the energy from the biodegradable bags and other biodegradable plastics could quite possibly pay for upgrading the landfill technologies, and create new jobs for the people who manage them.

Customers would enjoy the convenience of low-cost plastic bags and bottles. Merchants would enjoy a low-cost service that is eco-friendly and sustainable. The plastics industry would continue to operate with a minimally disruptive technology and municipalities would expand a free source of renewable energy.

 

 

* 49.28% biodegradation in 900 days under non-typical conditions. No evidence of further biodegradation.