Archives 2022

Five Reasons You Should Buy Recycled Products

Did you know that if everyone on the planet consumed as much as the average US citizen, we would need four Earths to sustain them?

As Earth’s dwellers, we constantly need to consume varying amounts of our planet’s resources, be it freshwater, materials to build the products we buy or oil and gases to power our houses.

Nowadays, we consume more natural resources than ever and, as a consequence, the amount of waste we generate is spiraling out of control. A recent report suggested that global annual waste generation is expected to jump to 3.4 billion tonnes over the next 30 years, up from 2.01 billion tonnes in 2016, an increase of 70%.

“Global Waste Will Grow by 70 Percent by 2050 Unless Urgent Action is Taken.

— World Bank Report

Where does buying recycled products fit into this?

Well, the numbers just mentioned are a clear indicator that we need to slow our consumption rates down. However, at the same time, increasing the recycled content of the products we buy could reverse this negative trend. Without further ado, here are the five reasons why you should buy recycled products:

 

  1. BUYING RECYCLED PRODUCTS SAVE ENERGYExtracting and processing raw resources (wood, oil, ore) to make usable materials (paper, plastic, metal) requires a lot of energy. Recycling often saves energy because the products being recycled usually require much less processing to turn them into usable materials.The energy savings really depend on the material in question, let’s look at a couple of examples.
    • ALUMINUM. Aluminum is produced from aluminum ore (typically a mixture of minerals called bauxite3), which needs to be extensively processed to isolate the aluminum metal. Aluminum extraction is an incredibly extensive process in terms of heat and electricity: aluminum production in the United States uses more electricity than any other manufactured product. When recycled, aluminum can simply be cleaned and re-melted and the process saves 94% of the energy that would be required to produce the aluminum from scratch.
    • PLASTIC. Plastic is produced from crude oil or natural gas extracted from oceans or from rock formations in a process where an immense amount of energy, work, and resources are deployed. BUT when plastic is made from other plastics more than 80% of energy in the process is saved. In particular, recycling one ton of plastic can save: 5,774 kWh of energy, 16.3 barrels of oil and 30 cubic yards of landfill space!
  2. BUYING RECYCLED PRODUCTS SAVES NATURAL RESOURCESDid you know that producing a dollar’s worth of paper takes more than 6 gallons of water? But when you buy a pound of recycled paper, you’ve helped to save approximately 3 gallons of water. Recycling reduces the need for extracting (mining, quarrying and logging), refining and processing raw materials, all of which create substantial air and water pollution. The pollutants that are released into the air and water can be greatly reduced with an increase in recycling.To sum up, manufacturing products from raw materials require an insane amount of natural resources so, let’s opt for recycled products whenever we can!
  3. BUYING RECYCLED PRODUCTS KEEPS OUR LANDFILLS FROM OVERFLOWING AND OUR ENVIRONMENT CLEANThe majority of the global waste generated goes to landfills. Which are not exactly the most environmentally-friendly option. While the most state-of-the-art landfills facilities manage to recover material, limit air and water pollution, many of them have unsanitary ways of treating waste, especially toxic ones.In addition, landfilling our waste is a very unsustainable way of treating it. Pretty soon we are going to run out of available space so we need to find better alternatives. Every time we recycle and buy recycled products, we prevent old materials from being tossed up in landfills, effectively freeing up space in those.
A landfill just outside Bangalore. By 2050, India will need New Delhi-sized landfills to manage disposal.
A landfill just outside Bangalore. By 2050, India will need New Delhi-sized landfills to manage disposal.

4. IT ENCOURAGES COMPANIES TO USE MORE RECYCLED CONTENT

Have you heard of the phrase” voting with your wallet”? Companies are in business to meet the demand of customers: a demand for recycled products encourages manufacturers to participate in the environmentally healthy effort to provide these products.

The bottom line is that buying recycled-content products ensures that markets for those recovered materials are strong. So, let’s never underestimate consumers’ power!

5. BUYING RECYCLED PRODUCTS HELPS WITH JOB CREATION

Did you know that recycling creates 6 times more jobs than sending waste to a landfill? Many businesses and individual jobs rely on recycling. So when you purchase a recycled item, you’re helping to stimulate the economy and keep your neighbours employed.

CONCLUSION

So, here were the five reasons you should buy more recycled products! Not so bad, right?
Remember: after reducing and reusing, comes recycling! But, without a market for recycled products, all of our recycling efforts could be useless!

So, next time you are shopping, look out for products fully or partially made with recycled content!

Source : https://www.plasticsforchange.org/news

How does Plastic End Up in Our Oceans?

Have you ever wondered how plastic ends up in our oceans in the first place? Do coastal communities use so much plastic that it generates a lot of marine litter? And what about the rest of the population who live inland? Where does their plastic waste go?

In this blog, we shall find out how our oceans became so polluted and what we can all do to mitigate this growing problem.

BUT FIRST, WHERE IS PLASTIC WASTE GENERATED?

An estimated 150 million metric tons of plastic waste are in the ocean today, with 8 million metric tons added every year. This makes up 80% of all marine debris from surface waters to deep-sea sediments.

Economic prosperity, fast-paced development, and a fall in crude oil prices hint at increased production of plastic and consequently, more plastic waste entering our oceans.

Though all the countries rely on plastic and generate plastic waste, few developing and under-developed countries are accountable for a majority of the plastic pollution due to bad practices in managing plastic waste.

WHAT ARE THE SOURCES OF MARINE PLASTIC?

After a plastic product life cycle is complete, they end up in the sea under various circumstances. These are:

LAND-BASED

Food and drink packaging, household items, clothing, construction materials are common culprits in land-based sources of plastic objects.

Effective waste collection and management infrastructure can help mitigate this problem.

LANDFILLS

Most plastic does end up in landfills. Advanced nations have the reliable infrastructure to segregate plastic according to its grade and take it forward for recycling or generating energy by incineration.

Unfortunately, the same is not the case with developing countries. Because of waste mismanagement rules and dismal regulations, they struggle with waste collection and recycling infrastructure. In such cases, plastic abandoned in open landfills makes its way into waterways.

BEACH VISITORS

Cigarette butts, food packaging, and beverage bottles strewn on the beaches easily get picked up by the wind and ocean tides.

ILLEGAL DUMPING

In this case, plastic waste is dumped illegally by the roadside, open fields or portside, eventually spilling into waterways and floating downstream with time.

WATERWAYS

The most effective way to fight plastic pollution is to stop it from entering the ocean from the river, urban and storm runoffs, and sewer overflows. There are thousands of rivers flowing into the sea every day. This perpetual process carries all the plastic pollutants into the sea.

How does plastic enter the rivers from land? Here are some of the most important factors:

  1. Poor local waste management practices
  2. Distance between the point of waste generation and the river network
  3. Annual precipitation in the river basin
  4. Floods
  5. Wind
  6. Artificial structures like dams which gather plastic flowing downstream and act as sinks for macroplastics
  7. Type of landscape between the location of plastic waste and the nearest river – paved surfaces in urban areas help both water and plastic to drain into the river
  8. The slope of the terrain
  9. The proximity of a population to the river or coastline

To provide a scale of the problem that we are currently facing, have a look at the riverine plastic emission from some of the largest polluting rivers.

To solve the problem of marine plastic littering our oceans, we need to nip the problem in its bud. This means stopping riverine plastic emissions at all costs.

OFFSHORE ACTIVITIES

FISHING INDUSTRY

The lack of rules and regulations in the high seas outside international borders has given the fishing industry free rein to pollute our oceans. They frequently abandon fishing nets in the sea that turn into a nightmare for marine life. Called ghost nets, they entangle unsuspecting creatures like sharks, turtles, dolphins, and other creatures who are not the intended catch.

Also, fishing nets are made of nylon which breakdown over time to form microplastic.

According to Businesswire, the global seafood market will reach USD 138.7 billion by 2027. More seafood fishing means more plastic waste generated.

AQUACULTURE

There is a lot of dependency on plastic in this industry like pond liners, piping, insulated polystyrene boxes, nets, feed bags, buckets, and even small plastic containers from food supplements.

Artificial ponds are built for the breeding, rearing, and harvesting of fish and other organisms near oceans, lakes, or streams for easy access to water.

There is a high probability of plastic used in aquaculture seeping into the surrounding environment.

HOW CAN WE STOP PLASTIC FROM ENTERING OUR OCEANS?

  • The usual mantra of ‘reduce, reuse, and recycle’ of plastic items will always hold good. We need to reduce our dependency on virgin plastics to have less plastic waste generated in the first place.
  • Significant strides can be made in reducing plastic waste from entering the ocean if ocean-bound plastic can be captured and recycled to create plastic products. This helps in slowly reducing the dependency on virgin plastic.
  • There is a dire need for stringent plastic waste disposal infrastructure in developing and underdeveloped countries to prevent riverine plastic emissions. Strict enforcement is key.
  • Big corporations that use and produce plastic must be given the responsibility for the treatment or disposal of post-consumer products under the latest Extended Producer Responsibility guidelines.
  • No matter how small or seemingly insignificant the effort seems, a beach cleanup makes a lot of positive difference if done continuously. In fact, International Coastal Cleanup™ (ICC) has collected more than 340 million pounds of trash over the past 35 years.
  • Setting up traps to capture plastic trash at river mouths helps contain the problem. Though this method requires a lot of maintenance, it is a good trade-off given the quantity of plastic it can capture, especially in the rainy season.
  • Proper disposal of plastic waste is the duty of a responsible citizen. The government must improve waste collection schemes and ensure outdoor areas are free of plastic waste to prevent plastic from entering waterways.
  • Persuade large corporations, especially FMCG, food, and cosmetic brands to use recycled plastic in their packaging. A lot of companies have begun using ocean-bound plastics in their products which signals a positive change.

We, at Plastics For Change, are trying to reduce plastic pollution by actively collecting ocean-bound plastic from littering our oceans. The plastic that is recovered is used to make new plastic packaging material that brands can use to sell their products.

What other ways can we reduce plastic from polluting our oceans? Please let us know in the comments below.

Source : https://www.plasticsforchange.org/news