Plastic waste and its management strategies for environmental sustainability

The sustainable management of plastic waste is a major issue that attracts all environmental concerns. To safeguard the environment, the most important issue is the effective and efficient management of the massive volume of waste generated worldwide.

Plastics are widely used in almost all human activities, including manufacturing, agriculture, furniture, healthcare, electrical and thermal insulation, manufacturing of household and technological items, pipes, etc. . The utility of plastic is expected to further increase due to its outstanding characteristics such as high tensile strength, impact resistance, resistance to microbial growth, opacity as well as visibility, chemical resistance and featherweight . However, since this plastic waste is not biodegradable, it poses waste management problems.

Plastic waste management

Plastic waste management strategies are needed for the proper management of plastic waste in an environmentally friendly way, which can contribute to the appropriate use of plastics. The solution to this problem is based on the three Rs: reduce, reuse and recycle.

Mismanagement of plastic waste can cause environmental problems, such as destroying the beauty of the city and clogging sewers if littered, causing air pollution when burned and interfering with factories production of waste when the waste is associated with plastics. Recycling, landfilling and incineration are the most common traditional methods of managing plastic waste.

Plastic recycling

Plastics recycling involves reusing the plastic product in its original or modified form by depositing waste streams in plastic recycling facilities (PRF). There are four categories of plastic recycling technologies: primary, secondary, tertiary and quaternary.

In primary recycling, the waste stream is converted into a product with similar qualities to the original product. Secondary recycling involves the processing of waste materials to produce goods that differ in qualities from those of the original product. Plastic waste is treated in tertiary recycling to produce basic fuels and chemicals. The energy content of plastic waste is recovered in quaternary recycling by combustion or incineration.

Selection of recyclable materials followed by separation of plastic waste are effective methods of the recycling process. The sorted waste is then treated. After that, used plastic waste is cleaned, shredded, aggregated, extruded and reduced to powder.

landfill

Waste is left in earthen pits to decompose in this practice, although sanitary landfill spaces are becoming increasingly scarce. A well-managed landfill has the advantage of limiting damage to the ecosystem rather than the consequences of collection and disposal, but long-term concerns of water and soil pollution need to be addressed. neglected.

Incineration

Plastic waste is burned in this process, however, it can release harmful elements into the sky. The incomplete combustion of PVC, for example, produces harmful compounds such as dioxins; burning plastics emits CO2, which is a major cause of global warming. Because of this, this approach to disposing of plastic waste is typically abandoned because the cost of gas treatment is often greater than the energy recovered. However, incinerators can help alleviate this problem to some extent.

Along with traditional plastic recycling methods, RDF and SRF methods are used to manage plastic waste.

Refuse-derived fuel (RDF)

Refuse-derived fuel (RDF) is made from household and commercial waste, which includes both biodegradable materials and plastics. Non-combustible materials like glass and metals are removed and the remaining material is shredded. Waste-derived fuel is used to generate electricity at recovery plants, many of which are located in Europe, and to generate electricity and water heating for municipal heating systems.

Solid Recovered Fuel (SRF)

Solid Recovered Fuel (SRF) is a high alternative energy source, made primarily from commercial waste such as paper, cardboard, wood, textiles and plastic.

The recovered solid fuel was subjected to further processing to improve its quality and value. It has a higher calorific value than RDF and has been used in places like cement kilns.

Conclusion: As we all know, we use plastic in one form or another in our daily lives, such as kitchen utensils, stationery, debit/credit cards, bags, electronic and electrical equipment, etc As a result, plastic waste management has become a major concern and priority in today’s world. Many advances in the recycling of plastic waste have been made to facilitate this management, as indicated above; however, we must not contaminate the environment when recycling and using recycled items. We can also consider biodegradable plastics, which can be made from agricultural/animal resources such as corn starch, soy protein polyester blends, cellulose, triglycerides, collagen and casein, to help to alleviate this problem of sustainable waste management.



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The opinions expressed above are those of the author.



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Bryce K. Locke