What’s your PLAQS Quotient? Plastic’s Frequently Asked Questions.
What Percentage of plastic is recycled in India and globally? substance inside the container?
According to the United Nations, around 60 percent of plastic waste in India is recycled. Just 9 percent of all plastic waste produced globally has been recycled.
How much plastic does India produce?
Close to 15,000 tons every day to fulfill all industrial and consumer needs. Last year it was ~18 million tons / year
What percentage of solid waste in India is contributed by plastic?
About eight percent of total solid waste in India is plastic, according to data published by Indian government.
What are the various types of recycling?
Mechanical recycling involves sorting, cleaning and shredding plastic to make pellets that can then be fashioned into other products. This approach works very well if plastic wastes are sorted according to their chemical composition. Chemical recycling, turns plastic into an energy carrier or feedstock for fuels. The two processes used to do this are: gasification and pyrolysis.
How can flexible non-recyclable plastics be put into use?
Technically, all plastics can be recycled. Flexible plastics including packaging, 3D printing, and construction material can be used in cement kilns and in the construction of making bitumen roads.
Is it practical to replace plastic as packaging material with Jute?
No, for the following reasons: Jute is less efficient but more expensive. Growing jute also competes with food production and jute needs batching oil that has health concerns. Plastic bags cost less than jute bags. Plastic also protects what it stores and there is a different type of plastic for every application.
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Can we make three types of waste bin like one each for Dry, Wet and Plastics?
Wet waste bin : The Green-colored dustbins are meant for wet and biodegradable wastes. For eg: kitchen wastes including vegetables and fruits skins. Dry waste bin : Blue dustbins are meant for disposal of non-bio degradable wastes. For eg: bottles, cans, clothing, plastic, wood, glass, metals and paper
Do plastics leach BPA and other harmful chemicals into the substance inside the container?
No. This is a common misconception. Manufacturers also carefully monitor the plastic before using it as packaging material. Also, BPA is used to make Polycrbonate and Epoxy resins and PET bottles. However a few Polycarbonate products have been voluntarily discontinued by the industry.
Can all 7 types of plastics be recycled?
Yes. Every kind of plastic has a number inside the triangle that identifies the type of plastic used based on its chemical composition. This code also helps to easily sort the plastic.
Can plastic waste be converted back to fuel?
Yes. Indian Institute of Petroleum (IIP), Dehradun, developed a unique process of converting plastic waste like polyethylene and polypropylene (60% together) into either gasoline or diesel. The technology has the capability to convert 1 kg of plastic to 750 ml of automotive grade gasoline. Which means, 1 ton of plastic can produce about 600 to 650 litres of fuel, 20 to 25 per cent synthetic gases and 5 to 10 percent of residual char - which can be used for road filler with bitumen.
Are plastics toxic when used in contact with foods and medicines?
No. Plastics are safe for packaging of foods, medicines and child care products. In fact, I.V. fluids and blood are collected and stored in plastic bags for reasons of safety.
Does burning plastic generate toxic fumes?
No. A large percentage of post-consumer waste is made up of grocery or polyethylene bags. The chemical structure of polyethylene is carbon and hydrogen atoms. On burning, a carbon hydrogen molecular chain will generate only carbon-dioxide and water vapour. A product made from PVC, when burnt in an open fire will emit hydrogen chloride fumes which are pungent. In fact this property has a significant advantage in retarding the spread of a flame when used as a sheath in power cables. A PVC product or a post-consumer pack is not usually found in municipal solid waste. The toxic fumes which the public wrongly believe are generated from plastics, are the result of burning materials contained in the bag, to get rid of industrial wastes. It is a fact that uncontrolled burning of any organic material (wood, paper, plastic, agro-wastes) generates harmful gases.
What is the role of plastics in improving the quality of life?
According to UNICEF, an estimated 2500 children die in India everyday due to diarrheal diseases, caused by polluted drinking water and lack of sanitation. Those who survive continue to suffer from water borne diseases and the country loses a staggering 1800 million manhours per year. The aim of providing safe drinking water to every village will not be fulfilled without the use of PVC pipes.
Are plastics hazardous when buried in land-fills?
Plastic waste is usually eco-neutral or inert. It does not generate toxic leachates which contaminate the soil or ground water resources. In fact, those products which do biodegrade with by-products, may actually contaminate groundwater. Plastic consumer waste can be easily compacted and occupies less space in land-fills. A famous study on excavation of New York's land-fills by the University of Arizona, U.S.A., revealed that food items, such as beef-stakes, corn-on-cob, newspapers - things which you might expect to biodegrade in a few years, are in recognizable form after 30 years! This is because anaerobic biodegradation (biodegradation that happens without the presence of air and sunlight) is an extremely slow process. This process also generates methane gas from landfills-which for its "greenhouse" effect is worse than carbon dioxide.
Can worms break down plastic?
No. It’s too early to definitively make that statement. However, researchers have found a type of wax worm that can ingest and digest polyethylene which metabolizes into a glycol, which is biodegradable. They can, roughly, breakdown 3% of a plastic bag.
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