The Problem

Flexible, resilient, and durable – plastics have facilitated innovation and convenience in almost every area of American life. From our medical supplies to our food storage containers, plastic is a commonplace and inexpensive solution for many Americans. But, plastic is not without its flaws. Strong polymers in plastic are extremely resistant to natural biodegradation processes. This means that traditional plastic products can persist in landfills for hundreds of years, if not indefinitely.

 

The first line of defense against plastic is reducing our consumption of plastic, much of which is produce for single use purposes such as straws, cutlery, food packaging, and plastic bags.  According to, the plastic bag for example has a life span of only about 12 minutes. Simple steps like bringing a canvas bag to go grocery shopping or simply refusing a plastic bag for one or two items at a convenience store could reduce our consumption drastically. Much of the challenge arises from little regulation regarding how it is disposed of. There are suggestions but recycling is not mandatory, therefore creating an even greater problem with what happens after it is created and used. The greatest challenge is how to monitor If it is not recycled in someway, it ends up in a landfill to decompose and gets woven into the earth and engrained into the DNA of our planet.


EPA Recycling Statistics 2014

According to EPA, 9.5% of plastic material generated in the U.S. Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) stream was recycled in 2014. Another 15% was combusted for energy, while 75.5% was sent to landfills. The landfilled proportion accounted for 18.5% by weight of MSW landfilled.

 

 

Plastic water bottles

Plastic water bottles are a concern to humans and the environment for a number of reasons including BPA that leaches from the bottle and the bottle itself after it's done being used one time.

plastic bags

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packaging

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