Managing plastic wastes

Dealing with waste plastics
Managing plastics wastes by techniques of reduction, recovery, recycling and disposal, addressing particularly the growing volume of plastic waste in the agricultural, automotive, construction, distribution (packaging), household and industrial sectors.
People are increasingly purchasing their beverages in one-way plastic containers. New applications for plastics are exploding, as recycling rates decline. The plastics industry is complex and diverse. It does not lend itself to simple "recycled content mandate" regulations. Most end use applications for used plastics are "open loop," that is, they go into another industry sector -- [eg] packaging to textiles. These diverse sectors do not generally interact with one another. Engineers are focused on small technical solutions; resin producers focus on programmes and lobbying to avert any legislation to force the issue, while local governments are faced with an ever more complex plastics waste stream.
UK proposals for dealing with the collection and disposal of non-packaging farm plastics include: (1) the first option proposes that efforts should be made to find solutions through a combination of the extension to the waste management controls, which will bring agricultural waste into the controlled waste regime, and a concerted approach by all the parties involved to promote voluntary industry schemes to deal with farm plastics; and (2) the second option would be to make producer responsibility regulations to ensure that farm plastics are recovered and recycled. This would require "producers" to recover an amount of non-packaging farm plastics waste annually according to certain targets. The first option would be less burdensome on the farmers, and only if this approach proves insufficient to deal with the problems should producer responsibility regulations be considered. For several years the UK Farm Films Producers Group (FFPG), operated by the plastics industry, systematised the collection of these waste plastics from farms and sent them for recycling. The scheme, which operated on the basis of a voluntary levy on plastics manufacturers, collapsed in early 1997 because of problems with free-riders: two importers refused to pay the levy and undercut the prices of their competitors.

According to a 1994 survey by the German environmental organization Bund, most computer manufacturers now use recycled plastics, have banned CFCs and solvent-based paints, use snap-together construction (for easier dismantling), mark new plastic parts for recycling and reuse old components for repairs. Four have free take-back schemes in Germany.

Americans utilize more than 22 billion pounds of plastics each year for packaging, but only about 2 billion pounds are recovered.

1. Currently, plastics recyclers in both the USA and Europe face feedstock shortages. But post-consumer collections are not elastic. History has shown that by the time local governments can gear up to collect more of a commodity, its too late - the price starts going down again.

2. Container deposits tend to move more clean bottle material, but they are politically unacceptable to most of industry, despite consumer popularity, and they can be complex.

Type Classification:
D: Detailed strategies
Related UN Sustainable Development Goals:
GOAL 7: Affordable and Clean EnergyGOAL 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth