Plastic Age

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Facts about plastic, recycling, the cruel faith of the human kind

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Plastic Age

  1. 2. Outline <ul><li>Why “plastic age” and why plastic? </li></ul><ul><li>Nowadays </li></ul><ul><li>Future </li></ul><ul><li>Conclusion </li></ul>
  2. 3. Why? <ul><li>Plastic is everywhere </li></ul><ul><ul><li>since ~1900 </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>production: 100 million tons / year </li></ul></ul><ul><li>What is plastic? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>a range of synthetic or semi-synthetic polymerization products </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>many are malleable, having the property of plastic ity </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Properties </li></ul><ul><ul><li>resistant, durable, good container & insulator </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>easy to produce </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>inexpensive </li></ul></ul>
  3. 4. But… <ul><li>manufacturing often creates large quantities of chemical pollutants </li></ul><ul><li>lifecycle : very short for many products </li></ul><ul><li>durable -> very slow degradation (hundreds of years) </li></ul><ul><li>burning it can release toxic fumes </li></ul><ul><li>plastic waste </li></ul><ul><ul><li>26% * total volume </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>10% * total weight </li></ul></ul>
  4. 5. Is it really cheap? <ul><li>cheap while ignoring the end-of-life implications </li></ul><ul><li>minimal reuse </li></ul><ul><li>After usage solutions </li></ul><ul><ul><li>burn </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>energy-efficient but can release toxic substances </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>recycle </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>difficult </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>let it be  </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>hundreds of years </li></ul></ul></ul>
  5. 6. Recycle? (1) <ul><li>1. PET : soft drinks bottles, oil bottles </li></ul><ul><li>2. HDPE : detergent bottles, milk jugs </li></ul><ul><li>3. PVC : pipes, outdoor furniture, liquid detergent containers </li></ul><ul><li>4. LDPE: dry-cleaning bags, trash can liners, food storage containers </li></ul><ul><li>5. PP: bottle caps, drinking straws </li></ul><ul><li>6. PS: cups, plastic tableware, meat trays, take-away food clamshell containers </li></ul><ul><li>7. Others </li></ul>
  6. 7. Recycle? (2) <ul><li>recycling is possible ; various efficiency levels </li></ul><ul><ul><li>PET: 20% -> other PET, the rest: other kinds of plastic </li></ul></ul><ul><li>recycling is challenging </li></ul><ul><ul><li>big molecules that must be very similar to &quot;melt&quot; together </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>colors, additives, other substances </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>disassembling is difficult </li></ul></ul><ul><li>recyclable! recycled? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>collecting – many consumers </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>sorting – many kinds of plastic </li></ul></ul>
  7. 8. Recycle? (3) <ul><li>Developed countries </li></ul><ul><ul><li>law s that force/ reward collecting & recycling </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>return price for PET's , cost for plastic bags </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>infrastructure of collecting points </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>supermarkets cannot offer plastic bags </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>history in education for reuse & recycling </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>being “ green ” becomes fashionable for companies </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Countries under development </li></ul><ul><ul><li>the environment is not a priority </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>no infrastructure / laws </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>short-term cost matters for people </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>commodity preferred over long term effects </li></ul></ul>
  8. 9. Plastic waste – landfill <ul><li>argued to be not harmful </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“ it does not free any toxic substances” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>it is not biodegradable </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>imagine: 20 million plastic bags used in Australia everyday </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>harmful to ecosystems </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>dead animals </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>long-term effects on oceans - still unknown </li></ul></ul></ul>
  9. 10. The future <ul><li>Ongoing research for other materials with the same properties </li></ul><ul><li>Recycling, reuse </li></ul><ul><li>Plastic’s cost depend s on petrol </li></ul><ul><ul><li>out of petrol would mean out of plastic </li></ul></ul>
  10. 11. Conclusion <ul><li>Enormous quantities of plastic are produced and used </li></ul><ul><li>It is convenient (use and throw away) </li></ul><ul><li>Although some plastics are recyclable, not enough is recycled </li></ul><ul><li>Laws, economical measures and education help </li></ul>
  11. 12. Thank you!

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