What Happens if Plastic is not Recycled

If you plot the trend of plastics recycling over time, the future looks brighter because more and more plastics today are being recycled compared to decades and centuries past. However, this trend unlike that of glass and paper is not sharp rising as a small percentage of all plastics is recycled today. According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, only 6.8% of all plastics were recycled in 2007, a percentage that ill compares to the over 50% of paper that was recycled.

The major argument explaining the low rate of plastic recycling is the inability of community recycling programs to recycle all types of plastics. For instance, plastic bags are not accepted in these recycling programs.

Some recycling programs only accept plastic bottles that are manufactured from HDPE or PET thus leaving other plastic items to be left in the garbage. This is why some plastics record higher rates of recycling compared to others.

Irrespective of whatever gets accepted and what ends up in garbage pits and landfills, we must be aware that plastic which is not recycled ultimately becomes waste and pollutes our environment.

Landfills

The American Plastics Council records that in 1960, plastic waste accounted for less than 1% of the total municipal waste. By the year 2007, over 31 million tons of plastic became municipal waste and this represented close to 12% of the waste in landfills. The bulk of the plastic in these landfills is un-recycled plastic bags and bottles.

Each year about 38 billion water bottles end up in landfills along with billions of plastic bags. Scientific research has established that a plastic bag or bottle buried in a landfill takes about a thousand years to decompose. This means a thousand years of continuous pollution from toxic gases and solid waste.

Litter

All un-recycled plastics end up as litter and this causes increased costs in cleanups and proper disposal measures. These plastics are an eyesore and when swallowed by animals, they are a health hazard as they can cause suffocation. When discarded, plastic bags find their way into water bodies and this threatens the marine ecosystem evidenced by the deaths of hundreds of thousands of sea turtles and whales each year.

Use of Natural Resources

Plastic items dumped and buried in landfills can obviously not be reused or remade into something else. These plastic items that cost an enormous amount in raw materials and labor to produce, end up as a total waste. In order to support another round of production therefore, companies are forced to get new raw materials, engage their manufacturing processes again and also exploit other natural resources such as water and energy to create a new batch of plastics. If the discarded plastic items had been recycled, the same plastic could have been recycled to create other plastic items, a process that environmental scientists argue use lesser natural resources and costs to realize.

Going forward, community recycle projects as well as public private partnerships need to come in and forge alliances to help our planet get rid of plastics through the recycling pathway. We were excited to learn that our recent nyc mover offered moving bins as an alternative to the boxes.

 

The Impact of Recycling on the Environment

Champions of green living are moving all over the globe in an attempt to drum in the message that the future of planet earth is threatened by human activities and if nothing is done to put to an end the worrying trend on global emissions, something drastic may happen in the not-too-far future. Recycling is one of the messages being relayed across as a possible panacea to the heating up of Mother Earth. However, not all people understand the correlation between the environmental wellness and recycling hence it is important to lay the facts bare for all to see.

There are lots of ways recycling helps in making the environment we live in a much better place not only for us, but also for those generations that will come after us. Among the benefits recycling brings our way includes:

Reducing Landfill

Landfills are not only an eyesore, but also a difficult issue to fix for most governments and authorities. More waste is continually being pumped into landfills and this aggravates the problem. It is common knowledge that products which are not biodegradable take long to discompose and can remain in these sites for centuries emitting toxic gases that can harm the environment. One way recycling helps is by keeping paper and plastics out of these landfills.

Lowering Energy Consumption

The recycling process has been proven scientifically that it uses lesser energy compared to manufacturing products right from their virgin sources. For instance, making paper from recycled pulp is much less energy-intensive compared to making paper from new wood. The trees we spare during recycling can then help in absorbing carbon from the environment thus making it even cleaner.

Decrease in Pollution

As earlier noted, the waste in landfills emits toxic gases during the decomposition process. These gases escape into the atmosphere and pollute our environment. Passing through a landfill especially during hot weather will give you a firsthand experience of the nauseating smell and lots of flies round landfills. By reducing the waste we dump through recycling, we can proportionately reduce pollution. Recycling products also emits less carbon and this means a reduction in the carbon footprint.

Cost Savings

When using recycled goods, one of the notable benefits we enjoy is the cost savings. These savings are translated into reduced product costs which mean you can buy things cheaply without compromising on the quality. With the same income or wage level, recycled goods guarantee you a much higher standard of living. Recycling also provides employment opportunities because the process involves a lot of stages from collection all the way to the final recycling stage and this requires human labor.

If you are into recycling, you will find that making compost is a much easier and more efficient way of enriching your soil than buying the expensive fertilizer which is chemically based. Saving money through recycling helps protect the environment because once we start seeing real benefis in our pockets, chances are high that we shall support the recycling cause.

 

 

 

The 2015 UN Climate Change Conference in Paris and the Key Points of the Agreement

From November 30 to December 12, 2015, the city of Paris played host to the 21st yearly session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 21) to discuss the issues of climate change and review the gains that have been made so far from the 1997 Kyoto Protocol. This conference also known as the United Nations Climate Change Conference negotiated the Paris Agreement which is essentially a global agreement on the reduction of climate change.

The agreement was to come into force when endorsed by at least 55 out of the 196 countries attending. On April 22, 2016 also known as the Earth Day, 174 countries went ahead to sign the agreement in New York and started adopting it straightaway within their legal systems through the process of ratification, acceptance, approval, or accession.

The climate change pact, largely considered as the world’s first universal climate agreement is 31 pages long. To enable you get a quick overview of the agreement’s key points, here is a snapshot of 5 important points.

Limiting of Temperature rise below 2 Degrees Celsius

The parties in attendance made a commitment to keep the global rise in temperatures well below 2 degrees Celsius. They also made ambitious projections to limit this even more to 1.5 degrees in future. Canadian officials agreed to this reduction in temperature and rallied their support to the long term goal of limiting the rise to within 1.5 degrees Celsius of preindustrial levels. According to scientists, the 2 degrees Celsius will limit the potential catastrophic events of climate change.

The First Universal Climate Change Agreement

The previous emissions treaty signed in 1997 in Kyoto, Japan, did not mandate developing countries to reduce their emissions. Because of lack of solid commitment, Canada signed onto the Kyoto Protocol, but later on in 2011, backed out. However, the Paris Agreement presented by the French Foreign Minister, Laurent Fabius, was not only the first comprehensive climate agreement in the world, but also legally binding.

Helping Out Poorer Nations

Developing countries are set to get an annual figure to the tune of $100 billion from developed nations to help them combat climate change and push the agenda for greener economies. The agreement promotes universal access to sustainable energy in developing countries especially in Africa. According to the countries that attended and signed the agreement, this move can be accomplished by pursuing greater use of renewable energy.

Greenhouse Gas Reduction Targets

In line with the Paris Agreement, countries will be tasked with the preparation, maintenance and publication of their own greenhouse gas reduction targets. According to the agreement, the targets must be greater than the current ones and reflect the highest possible ambition. The targets will be reviewed every 5 years starting 2023 and revised where necessary.

Carbon Neutral by 2100

The pact sets a goal of a carbon neutral world after 2050, but before 2100. This means a huge commitment to limiting greenhouse gas emission to the level where soil, trees and oceans can naturally absorb.

Scientists are keen to see countries dropping and even stopping greenhouse gas emission altogether in pursuit of this noble cause.

Five Recyclable Items Most People Mistake for Waste

The 21st century society is not just a consumerism based existence, but also a point in time when more and more trash is being irresponsibly dumped, buried or discarded. Most of this recyclable waste ends up in landfills and in turn leaches dangerous chemicals into the soil which affects its fertility and potent to support vegetation growing. Instead of waiting for generations or thousands of years for this waste to completely discompose, why don’t you rethink whether you can recycle something before dumping it in the bin.

Different jurisdictions have in place different systems and laws that govern suitable processing of recyclable materials. Third parties services have also come up to widen the net on some of the items that can be recycled. Below are some of those things you should never discard because they can be recycled.

DVDs and CDs

Optical discs are primarily made of plastic. This includes both the writable and rewritable data discs. Before sending your disc for recycling, just confirm that it doesn’t contain personal data and if it does, the best approach is to shred the disc so as to protect yourself against data or identity theft.

There are recycling programs such as Best Buy that accept CDs and other optical discs countrywide. Some of these organizations request that you separate the case and the paper insert before you ship to them.

Running Shoes

Generally, shoes are a natural wear and tear item which may not be the best candidate for donation past a given stage of usage. Most people tend to throw away their old shoes which should not be the case. This is because footwear that is beyond dignified use can be recycled into turf and other surfaces through programs such as the Nike Reuse-A-Shoe program.

This program grinds down athletic shoes which are worn out and turns them into Nike Grind, a material used in a number of play surfaces as well as parts of new clothing.

Toner Cartridges and Printer Ink

While most companies are keen to recycle old documents and paper, many of them do not have a practice for recycling the ink and toner found in copiers and printers. There are companies in the United States such as Staples which accept small quantities of toner and ink to be dropped in their recycle bins. Also, cartridges can be sent through a free prepaid shipping label for recycling.

Packing Peanuts and Styrofoam Packaging

The materials for the above items are mostly made from a plastic known as expanded polystyrene (EPS) which is recyclable. The EPS Industry Alliance has a terrific lot of resources where you can recycle your foam packaging. FedEx and UPS may also accept packing peanuts for recycling.

Household Appliances

Dishwashers, dryers, washers, microwaves, and stoves ultimately reach the useful end of their lives. At this point, the cost of repair may exceed its efficiency by far hence the best approach is to replace them. The good news is these items can be recycled. Check with your retailer, local municipalities or get in touch with the Steel Recycling Institute which has a massive database of drop off locations for your old units.