Jeff Smith 4 p.m., Dec. 20
- Community Blog
Needlessly accumulating in landfills at the end of their short lifecycle, the insidious and impractical combination of the rise in single-use plastic products and single-use plastic consumption is detriment to municipal solid waste. The affinity for single-use plastic is constantly increasing and the application is vastly expanding to complement the thriving modern day lifestyles by eradicating inconveniences for the consumer. The result is large quantities of plastic waste flooding waste streams that lead to landfills. In a short amount of time, landfills will reach capacity and the designation of trash will be unknown.
The time of “plastiception,” wrapping plastic in plastic and throwing it away in plastic is conceptually excessive and in need of balance, to which I propose an incentive-filled plan of reducing, reusing, and recycling to stop the bleeding of single-use plastic products in waste streams. The goal is to reduce the consumption of single-use plastic at the point of origin, by purchasing less or by investing in reusable products instead. If plastic is still consumed, it can still be diverted by recycling. To give consumers an incentive to recycling, city officials can raise the cash refund for recycling or simply raise awareness. By participating in a recycled plastic market, consumers will give manufacturers an incentive to invest in recycled plastic. The impact will extend landfill life and ultimately conserve energy.
Furthermore, the organized and coordinated plan of single-use plastic from production to consumer to recycle streams pioneers new methods of disposal that diverts waste from ever reaching landfills. My solution enables consumers to wishfully reduce plastic consumption or keep using plastic and recycle upon use. Though recycling is fundamentally sound, current day recycling mechanism entails economic issues that overcome the conservation of energy. Anti-recycler argues that recycling is labor-intensive and thus expensive. However, growing technology will outdate today’s recycling process and make it more cost-efficient.
Besides recycling, incineration is also an option at diverting waste from landfills. Incinerating consist of combusting materials, gathering the heat and converting it to energy. Through combustion, the waste is turned into ash which reduces the amount of volume that builds up otherwise in landfills. However, disposing of the remains is problematic due to very concentrated pollutants. Additionally, incinerators emit gas pollutants into the atmosphere.
Though incineration is a viable option in diverting waste from landfills, its negatives outweigh its positives, thus resulting back to the environmentally and consumer friendly method of precycle and recycle. This method gives the consumers and manufacturers complete control over single-use plastic consumption while preventing it from flooding in waste streams. Source reduction and investing in reusable products is cost-efficient for the consumer and with increased incentives for recycling, participation from consumers should negate the economic flaws staining the process of recycling. Furthermore, increasing the need for recycled single-use plastic products and increased recycling will create a strong market for recycled products which gives an incentive to manufactures to buy recycled plastic content to produce its products. Essentially, the goal is to divert waste through a filtering system of precycle and the remaining plastic waste can be recycled. The recycled content is then reused which conserves energy and raw materials.