Plastic Waste: A Global Concern
As a result of the polymer being processed on a large scale worldwide, plastic products have become an integral part of our everyday lives. On average, plastic production reaches 150 million tonnes per year globally. Its wide range of products includes films for packaging, wrapping materials, bags for shopping and waste, containers for fluids, clothing, toys, household and industrial goods, and construction materials. Around 70 per cent of plastic packaging items are estimated to be turned into plastic waste.
Within a brief period. In the nation, approximately 9.4 million TPA plastic waste is generated, amounting to 26,000 TPD2.
Dangerous for human life
Burning of plastic results in the creation of a class of flame retardants called Halogens, which is harmful for human life. Collectively, the following serious health conditions are known to cause these toxic chemicals: cancer, endometriosis, neurological harm, endocrine disruption, birth defects and infant developmental disorders, reproductive harm, immune harm, asthma, and multiple organ harm.
Plastic Waste Generation in India
According to the 2017-18 study, the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) reported that India produces approximately 9.4 million tons of plastic waste per year (which is 26,000 tons of waste per day) and that approximately 5.6 million tons of plastic waste per year is recycled (i.e. 15,600 tons of waste per day) and 3.8 million tons of plastic waste per year is recycled (i.e. 15,600 tons of waste per day) (9,400 tonnes of waste per day).
Out of the 60% of recycled plastic:
- At registered facilities, 70% is recycled.
- 20% of the unorganized sector is recycled by
- 10% of the plastic recycled at homes
While these figures are 38 percent higher than the 20 percent global average, no comprehensive strategies for plastic waste management. In addition, there is a steady rise in the production of plastic waste. One of the main reasons for this is that, after single use, 50 percent of plastic is discarded as waste. As the single use of plastic products raises the market for virgin plastic products, this also contributes to the rise in the carbon footprint.
Plastic Waste Management
Types of Plastics
The Society of the Plastics Industry, Inc. (SPI) introduced its resin identification coding system in 1988 at the urging of recyclers around the country. The seven types of plastic include:
- Polyethylene Terephthalate (PETE or PET)
- High-Density Polyethylene (HDPE) Figure: Types of Plastic
- Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC)
- Low-Density Polyethylene (LDPE)
- Polypropylene (PP)
- Polystyrene or Styrofoam (PS)
- Miscellaneous plastics (includes: polycarbonate, polylactide, acrylic, acrylonitrile butadiene, styrene, fiberglass, and nylon)
Plastics are generally categorized into two types:
- Thermoplastics: Thermoplastics or thermal softening plastics are plastics that heat soften and can be moulded into the desired form, such as PET, HDPE, LDPE, PP, PVC, PS, etc.
- Thermosets: Thermoset or thermosetting plastics, such as Sheet Molding Compounds (SMC), Fiber Reinforced Plastic (FRP), Bakelite, etc., are examples of the same, but may not be remolded or recycled.
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, and Recovery
For consumers and retailers, plastic bags are common as they are a functional, lightweight, sturdy, inexpensive and hygienic way of transporting food and other goods. Most of these, once they are used, go to landfills and garbage heaps and some are recycled. Plastic bags will make their way to our sidewalks, parks, and through our rivers until they are littered. While only a small proportion of all litter is made up of plastic bags, the effect of these bags is still significant. Plastic bags produce issues with visual contamination and can have damaging effects on marine and terrestrial species.
Due to their size, plastic bags are especially visible components of the litter stream and can take a long time to break down entirely. In forests, streets, parks and gardens, many carrying bags end up as unsightly litter that, apart from being ugly, can kill birds, small mammals and other creatures. Billions of bags are thrown away each year in developing nations, most of which are used only once before disposal. With plastic bags, the only concern is that they do not break down in the atmosphere quickly.
Of course, plastic is uniquely troublesome because it is non-biodegradable and thus stays around for much longer than the other waste types. A few minor measures in everyday life will help keep plastics out of the waste stream as much as possible. Any of these steps can involve:
- Discourage the use of disposal plastics
- Minimize Buying Water bottles
- Minimize use of Plastics Cutlery
- Purchase item Secondhand
- Support a bag Tax or Ban
Reuse is a step up from recycling.. It diverts plastic and takes pressure off the services of recycling. Reuse is basically the middle-man between minimizing and recycling, and some would be shocked by how many reuse possibilities there really are. Plastic-produce sandwich bags, plastic shopping bags for small garbage bags, and plastic silverware may be reused. Most people miss this step and go straight to recycling, but it can reduce the need for new plastics to be generated by reusing plastics.
For example, because refillable plastic containers can be reused several times, the reuse of containers can contribute to a large reduction in the demand for disposable plastic and a decrease in the usage of materials and resources, resulting in a decrease in the environmental impact.
Recycling and re-utilization of waste plastics have several advantages. It leads to a reduction of the use of virgin materials and of the use of energy, thus also a reduction of carbon dioxide emissions. With the help of Plastic Waste Recycling Plant, we can reduce much more plastic.
Benefits of Recycling:
- Reduces Environmental Pollution
- Energy savings: 40 – 100 MJ/kg (depends on the polymer)
- Economic Benefits
- Reduces demand for virgin polymer
- Preferred to Land Filling
- Generates Employment
- Reduces depletion of Fossil fuel reserves
Difficulties in Recycling:
- Hard to separate from non-plastics (no ‘magnet’ equivalent)
- Differing composition of plastic resins means they are largely incompatible
- Degradation of polymer chains on recycling
- Recycled polymer is of lower quality than virgin polymer
- Most waste plastics films specially thin plastics films have limited market value, therefore effort is not spent in collecting them
- Identification of reuse and recycling opportunities
- Markets for Plastics; Lack of Infrastructure
- Low value of recovered Plastics
- Subsidies for recycling program
A very important step in the management of produced plastic waste is also the segregation of waste at the source. Some cities have set up segregation centers in the city to promote the secondary segregation of plastic waste into 25-27 categories, in addition to the segregation of waste at source, and to assist in the recycling of plastic. A number of plastic recycling techniques have been collected which can be implemented in dealing with the plastic waste problem by the Swachh Bharat Project – Urban 19 municipality. It covers technology as:
- Mechanical Recycling
- Feedstock Recycling
- Plastic to Road Construction
- Plastic to Toilet / Pavement Blocks
- Recycling of Multi-layered plastic
Plastic Waste Project incentives and Case Study
Ten step Roadmap for Governments
Given the wide range of potential steps to curb single-use plastics and their mixed effects, a 10-step roadmap has been drawn up by the United Nations Environment for governments, aiming to take similar initiatives or improve on current ones. The guidelines focus on 60 countries’ experiences across the globe:
- Target the most problematic single-use plastics
- Assess the potential social, economic and environmental impacts
- Consider the best actions to tackle the problem
- Identify and engage key stakeholder groups
- Raise public awareness about the harm caused by single-used plastics
- Promote alternatives
- Provide incentives to industry: Introducing tax rebates or other conditions to support
- Use revenues collected from taxes or levies on single-use plastics to maximize the public good
- Enforce: by making sure that there is clear allocation of roles and responsibilities.
- Monitor and adjust
Source: Government of India and Government Guidelines