Home ESG Putting Plastics In Perspective – Advance ESG

Putting Plastics In Perspective – Advance ESG

by delta
0 comment

Plastics are everywhere – in the food and water we consume, on and in the ground, within lakes, streams, rivers and oceans and even in the air we breathe. The ubiquity of plastics is indeed terrifying when we consider the long-term environmental and health implications. And that plastics are not going away.

The world now contains about 8.3 billion tons of plastic with 6.3 billion tons being nothing more than trash. The Environmental Protection Agency noted that in a single year (2018) 35.7 million tons of plastics became municipal solid waste in the US.  From 2 million tons a year of global plastic production in 1950, it had increased 200-fold in 2015.

91.3% of all plastic waste generated in the US is not recycled. Plastic takes 400 years to degrade and the amount ending up in landfills has been steadily increasing. During the COVID 19 pandemic, seemingly the entire world relied on deliveries, which generated a lot more plastic waste. We are yet to see the statistics following this spike in plastic use.

The amount of plastic in our water is staggering. One study estimates that there are 170 trillion plastic particles, (more than 2.2 million tons) in the oceans which is the equivalent of 21,000 pieces of ocean plastic for every person on earth. According to another recent study, by 2030, around 53 million tons of plastic will exist in our oceans, rivers, and lakes.

Even though plastic is derived from organic material, it is not considered sustainable since plastic’s basic building blocks are rearranged and combined in ways that would never occur in nature. Recycling plastic is currently economically inefficient since it’s now far cheaper to make new plastic products from scratch. As most recycling programs only accept limited plastics (generally bottles), there is a serious need for greater investment in more efficient plastic recycling mechanisms and programs.

C​urrently, High Density Poly Ehylene (HDPE) plastics, and Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET) are the most commonly and easily recycled types of plastics. Most milk jugs, shampoo bottles, water bottles, beverage bottles, food containers, and cleaning containers are plastics of this kind. The maximum recycling rate for both HDPE and PET is now only around 30%.

A new generation of plastics has been developed by researchers, that is easier and cheaper to recycle. These are products made from plastic that are 100% recyclable. The monomers of this new material, called polydiketoenamine or PDK, can be recovered free from compounded additives using a simple acid bath, and can be repeatedly polymerized into other objects with different shapes, colors, and textures without the material losing its performance or quality. Despite the ease and success rate of recycling this material, people are not recycling it as much as they should be.

Better educational tools are required to educate and motivate municipal residents to recycle more efficiently. There is an increasing need to develop programs that make it easier for people to recycle plastic correctly, while also making educated purchasing decisions in their day-to-day lives.

O​mnicalculator says, at this rate, by 2050, we would likely have more plastic waste than fish. Contrary to common misconceptions, this isn’t merely a corporate or industrial problem. It is a problem of pertinence to each of us. National Geographic has created this short animation about plastic pollution, that shows us with great embarrassment how we have actually created a mass of plastic waste as big as a new continent about the size of Europe!

T​his is how long it takes for specific plastics to degrade:

  • Plastic bags 10-1000 years
  • Grocery bags 10-20 years
  • Foam plastic cups – 50 years
  • Plastic disposable cups and plates – 400 years
  • Disposable diapers – 450 years
  • Plastic bottles – 450-500 years

If you want to calculate your yearly plastic consumption, check out this plastic footprint calculator.

T​o reduce your plastic footprint, here is the rule of 4Rs:

  • Refuse – Say “no” to plastics as much as you can. Use your own cups and straws.
  • Reduce – Patronize products and companies that reduce their plastic use.
  • Reuse – Avoid single-use plastics, use fabric bags till they break, and wash and reuse all your containers!
  • Recycle – Practice segregating your waste, and give it a chance to be recycled!

Plastic products are usually labeled with a number surrounded by the recycling symbol. These numbers and labels identify the type of resin used to make the plastic, and the recyclability of the product. There are different types of potential health risks associated with each of the resins. Here is a downloadable PDF that we can all use everyday in our living spaces to remind us to check the correct ways to recycle plastics before tossing them into the bins.

A​ bit of thought and responsible action can go a really long way in reducing plastic pollution, saving our own planet for our next generations. Let’s remind ourselves that this is a ubiquitous issue that requires our immediate and ongoing attention.

You may also like

Leave a Comment


Delta-Compliance.com is a premier news website that provides in-depth coverage of the latest developments in finance, startups, compliance, business, science, and job markets.

Editors' Picks

Latest Posts

This Website is operated by the Company DELTA Data Protection & Compliance, Inc., located in Lewes, DE 19958, Delaware, USA.
All feedback, comments, notices of copyright infringement claims or requests for technical support, and other communications relating to this website should be directed to: info@delta-compliance.com. The imprint also applies to the social media profiles of DELTA Data Protection & Compliance.

Copyright ©️ 2023  Delta Compliance. All Rights Reserved

Are you sure want to unlock this post?
Unlock left : 0
Are you sure want to cancel subscription?
Update Required Flash plugin