Plastic recycling is an essential part of the ecological transition that is underway in our world. As we become more aware of the impact that our actions have on the environment, we are realizing that we must take responsibility for our waste and find new ways to reduce our footprint. Recycling is a key component of this effort. By recycling materials like unrecovered plastics we are able to reduce the amount of waste that ends up in landfills and oceans. Unrecovered plastic refers to the plastic waste that is not collected, recycled, or properly disposed of, and instead ends up in the environment, particularly in our oceans, rivers, and landfills.
Here are some statistics on unrecovered plastic:
•Production: In 2020, global plastic production reached 368 million metric tons, and it is projected to increase to 1.1 billion metric tons by 2050.
• Waste: Only 9% of plastic waste has been recycled globally, while 12% has been incinerated, and 79% has accumulated in landfills or the natural environment.
• Ocean pollution: It is estimated that 8 million metric tons of plastic enter the oceans every year, which is equivalent to dumping one garbage truck of plastic into the ocean every minute.
• Microplastics: Unrecovered plastic in the environment breaks down into smaller pieces called microplastics, which can be ingested by marine life and enter the food chain. Microplastics have been found in seafood, drinking water, and even in the air we breathe.
• Economic impact: The cost of plastic pollution to the global economy is estimated to be $13 billion per year. This includes costs associated with environmental damage, health impacts, and the loss of tourism revenue due to littered beaches.
So, unrecovered plastic is a significant environmental problem that requires urgent action to reduce plastic production, improve waste management, and prevent plastic pollution from entering our oceans and environment. Plastic recycling also reduces the amount of energy and resources required to produce new materials, which in turn helps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and slow the pace of climate change.
Here are a few points about the importance of plastic recycling:
• Conservation of resources: Recycling plastic reduces the need for virgin materials to be extracted from the earth, such as petroleum or natural gas, which are finite resources. By recycling plastic, we can conserve these resources for future generations.
• Reduction of greenhouse gas emissions: Manufacturing new plastic products from recycled plastic requires less energy than manufacturing products from virgin plastic. This means that recycling plastic can help reduce greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change.
• Reduction of waste in landfills: When plastic is recycled, it is diverted from landfills, where it can take hundreds of years to decompose. Diverting plastic from landfills reduces the amount of waste that ends up in these facilities, which can help extend their lifespans and reduce the need for new landfills to be built.
• Reduction of plastic pollution: When plastic is not recycled or properly disposed of, it can end up in the environment, where it can harm wildlife and damage ecosystems. By recycling plastic, we can prevent plastic waste from polluting our oceans, rivers, and other natural habitats.
• Creation of jobs: The recycling industry can create jobs in sorting, processing, and manufacturing recycled plastic products. Recycling can also support local economies by creating demand for recycled plastic products.
Plastic recycling is important for reducing our environmental footprint, conserving resources, and supporting a more sustainable future. By recycling plastic, we can help create a more circular economy that reduces waste, conserves resources, and benefits both the environment and the economy. But recycling is only one part of the solution. We must also make a concerted effort to reduce waste at the source and invest in sustainable practices and technologies that minimize waste.And to do this we must necessarily move from a linear to a circular economy model. Moving from a linear economy model to a circular economy model is becoming increasingly important due to the significant environmental and economic benefits that it can provide.In a linear economy, resources are extracted, processed, and eventually discarded as waste. This model is unsustainable in the long term, as it leads to the depletion of natural resources and the accumulation of waste. On the other hand, a circular economy aims to keep resources in use for as long as possible, minimizing waste and maximizing their value.