Plastic Waste Management and Resource Recovery
Plastic includes a wide variety of resins or polymers with varied characteristics. While there are natural polymers but only synthetic polymers are referred as plastics. The word ‘PLASTIC’ is derived from the Greek words ‘PLASSIEN’ and ‘PLASTIKOS’ meaning to mould or shape a soft substance permanent or temporary. Beneficial properties of plastics includes: Extreme versatility, lighter weight than competing materials, reducing fuel consumption during transportation, extreme durability, resistance to chemicals, water and temperature.
Plastic in municipal solid waste (MSW): Major proportion from packaging sector. Per capita MSW generation in India is 100-500 gm/day with 5% plastic within it. In US, plastic in MSW risen significantly from 0.36 MT (1% in 1960) to 18 MT (9.3% in1993). Plastic accounts for 24% of landfill volume and take nearly 300 years for partial degradation. The most predominating problem to manage plastic pollution is its collection and transportation for proper management.
Integrated plastic waste management includes source reduction (28%, product reuse), less packaging (more durable products), recovery of materials for recycling and composting, disposal of waste (Landfill, combustion/incineration with energy recovery).
Life Cycle Analysis (LCA): LCA is one such tool that helps companies to understand the environmental impacts associated with their products, processes and activities. LCA approach is meant to provide a useful framework for manufacturers, who must choose materials and technologies, as well as consumers who want to include environmental consideration in their choice of products.
Dioxin, Furans and other toxic compounds are the byproduct of waste by incineration and combustion processes, which has harmful impact on environment and human health.
‘Best option is to refuse the use of plastic bags’