Reduce it. Reuse it. Recycle it. We see the logo, we hear the tagline all over the place. We haven't had a lot of trouble minimizing and reusing it. Nonetheless, we are struggling with recycling for a plethora of reasons. Recycling begins from our houses, right at the point of our disposal. Governments and local authorities have been successful in encouraging households to distinguish waste from those that can be recycled and others that can not be recycled. Remember that this is subject to the jurisdiction of the region and the ability of the nearest recycling facility to handle a type of plastic. From this point on, the pressure transfers to waste pickers, scrap dealers who are responsible for overseeing the recycling process and ensuring that less and less plastics enter our environment.
But it's not as simple as it sounds. Plastics go through different stages of processing and sorting before they are eventually processed and come back to our disposal. Just 9 per cent of the plastics produced are recycled, with only 12 per cent incinerated. The rest goes to the landfills, rivers and dumps, untreated. There are many factors that make us weak on numbers. Here are five facts that you probably didn't know about the plastics recycling process and industry:
#Dirty plastics can't be recycled.
Animal and organic waste left over in plastics can not be recycled. As a result, these wastes are contaminated and can not be processed or cleared for further recycling. Even one tainted tin does not affect the entire array, but it makes the process much harder. The plastic may be a PET (highly recyclable) but if this test fails to be free from pollution, it results in a pile of vast landfills where the waste is usually discarded and takes centuries to remove its mark from our world. The simple way we can adjust our means is to wash off clean plastics before we dump them in our bins.
#Plastic bottles are discarded enough to run around the planet four times a year.
Our plastics production has increased 200 times over the last five decades. And it takes less than half a year for all plastics produced in a year to reach their maximum use. Metals and glasses, on the other hand, can be recycled indefinitely as opposed to plastics that can be recycled up to 3 times. Through carrying a bottle of water everywhere and filling the taps with water instead of buying it, we are helping to eradicate the crisis.
#More than 90% of our ocean contaminants come from just 10 rivers!
Only ten rivers contribute to 90% of our marine plastic pollution! Such rivers act as a means of food along the way. They're still gathering, along with it, all the waste in its path and flowing into the ocean. The common pattern in these rivers is that they are situated in areas with a high population density and inadequate waste management systems. Eight of them are in Asia: the Yangtze; the Indus; the Yellow; the Hai He; the Ganges; the Pearl; the Amur; the Mekong; and two in Africa: the Nile and the Niger. The respective governments have taken initiatives to clean up the mess; collective action will amount to the difference they intend to see.
#The main plastic disposal site is not a landfill — it's an ocean — it's the Pacific!
The Great Pacific Patch is a' trash vortex' in the Pacific Ocean. Bottles, tins and cans discarded from the Pacific Rim countries make their way to the Pacific Ocean. When found in the 1990s, a large number of these plastics came primarily from the Asian countries of Indonesia and China. Most single-use plastics are less stable than the water that holds them floating on the surface. Once exposed to the sun, they disintegrate into millions of microplastics that become part of our marine ecosystem. In 2050, reports show more plastic than fish in our oceans. Engineering has been harnessed to solve the problem, but nothing better than preventing the direct entry of these plastics into our oceans.
#Our recycling habits are flawed–and need to be renovated.
Recycle bins sporting shades of blue, green, red, yellow with Reduce. Reuse it. It may not be a very viable solution to recycle the logo as we all think it is. And maybe the explanation is because we don't actively dispose of the waste. We all want to help the world recover from the crisis, but very few of us want to recycle it. It's a process that requires consistent efforts, but once we get used to it, we're one step closer. Various colored bins have different purposes: blue for metals and tins, green and red for paper goods. More often than not, it is a lack of knowledge about the recycling properties of the material and we end up putting non-recyclables in the category of recyclables.
Each part of the value chain is responsible for the disturbing and disappointing results of recycling. Although care is being taken to fix our mistakes, further steps are being taken at the same time to find alternative, sustainable solutions. Furthermore, technical start-ups are changing the way waste is handled and plastics are being recycled.
We believe that by moving to #PlasticNeutral, you can be part of a revolutionary reshaping of the world's material economy–a sustainable and effective circular economy in which we reduce waste, preserve life and restore the balance of nature.