The rational thinkers and the environmentalists all around the globe are shouting their guts out to start finding alternatives for plastic, and wherever we have the eco-friendly alternatives available, start using them rather than the plastic counterparts.
The amount of non-biodegradable waste produced each year, and the rising levels of pollution have already been an alarming concern for almost every country on the planet.
Plastic is one of the most commonly used raw materials because of its long life, lightweight, and water impermeability, and these are the very reasons which make decomposing plastic an extremely difficult job. Thus, using biodegradable alternates where possible, and recycling the plastic used for items where the environmentally sustainable alternates are not available, are the two essential steps that can be undertaken. Recycling used plastic is a better option than tossing it in landfills altogether.
Types of Plastic
Generally, most types of plastic are recyclable. The seven types of plastic are as follows –
PET– This is majorly used in building bottles for beverages and water.
HDPE– This one is commonly utilized in making jugs that hold milk, detergents, and cooking oil.
PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride) – This type of plastic is used in making dry erase boards, signs, cling wrap, and other products.
LDPE – It commonly goes in the making of plastic bags for shopping, bread, and dry-cleaning bags.
PP (Polypropylene) – This form of plastic is used to produce containers for holding ketchup, cream, bottle caps, and others.
PS (Polystyrene) – This is sort of a foam product that goes in the making of coffee cups, and packaging for spoons, forks, knives, and others.
Polycarbonate and Polylactide – They are generally used in electrical or electronic products and in medical devices.
Time Required for Breaking Down of Different Types of Plastic
Many studies suggest that PET usually takes 10 years to decompose in a landfill. This time can be reduced if the plastic is exposed to sunlight. A report published by Mercer Group International suggests that almost all the major varieties of plastic take 200 to 400 years for degrading completely.
Below is a list of years taken by different varieties of plastic to decompose –
PS – 50 Years
HDPE – 100 Years
LDPE – 500 Years
PP – 1000 Years
Aren’t these figures a reason for concern? Do you want to think again before picking up that pack of Eco-Friendly Kitchen Trash Bags again?
Health Hazards of Plastic
The only hazard of using plastic is not just the time it takes to decompose, but also the toxic chemicals it releases while breaking down. These toxins seep into the water around and the land surface polluting even the groundwater sources harming people and wildlife. Thus, plastic is a problem when it is not decomposing as well as a problem when it starts decomposing.
Can Plastic Be Burned?
The simple answer to this is a big NO! Burning plastic releases Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) which are extremely dangerous when inhaled. Also, plastic 2, 4, 5, and 6 results in an explosion when burnt and causes drips. PET and PVC require the highest temperatures to burn.
Burning plastic releases toxins from the smoke, and leads to numerous health hazards such as birth defects, child developmental disorders, asthma, cancer, neurological and/or multiple organ damage, and many other defects both in humans and animals.Thus, switching to Compostable trash bags and other biodegradable alternates, and recycling used plastic are the measures to be resorted to as soon as possible.