Plastics form a major part of our environment. Ways of recycling, reducing and reusing of the waste plastics is fundamental for the good care of our environments. The journal used for the week’s lesson is entitled “Waste-to-Energy in the United States: A Social and Economic Assessment.’’ This journal becomes extremely handy in assessing the recycling situation in Georgia. It provides a very balanced and complete assessment of economic and social factors. These factors help in the decision making about the projects on waste to energy in the US. The projects were enforced in between the years of 1982 to 1990. It contains data of counties that have adopted the program and those that have not implemented the program or otherwise have abandoned it half way. The journal has reports on four proper case studies. Two are directed at communities that have adopted the practice and the other two directed at the ones that have not implemented the practice like Georgia. There are potential environmental and health issues handled by the journal. These risks are associated with the Waste to Energy projects in the US.
Plastics are indeed everywhere, from the grocery to the shopping malls. They are important in the packaging industry, but a closer look at the plastics brings into focus the price to be paid by using and dumping it the wrong way. Therefore, this calls for a lot of care. Plastics are very durable, and this means that they will degrade very slowly (Gehrke, 2010). Therefore, plastics take long in the environment. Decomposition by burning also creates serious toxic fumes in the atmosphere. The production as well takes a significant amount of fossil fuels, which pollutes the environment.
Most sea animals have died due to the ingestion of plastic materials. Solar radiation degrades plastics into smaller particles, which eventually becomes plastic dust and goes to pollute the atmosphere. Due to this damage to the environment, it is imperative to develop ways of recycling the plastics. The aim here is to recycle, reduce and reuse plastics. It also aims at developing appropriate measures to deal with the plastic menace (Bary, 2003).
The population census carried out in Georgia in 2005 placed the country’s population at about 9,072,576. Since I decided to concentrate on the recycling of plastics, I managed to recycle a lot of trash within the week. I managed to recycle plastic bags, bottles, cans and other packaging materials. I recycled 5000 Kg of trash in one week. This suggests that I would have recycled about 26 tons of trash in a year. If the whole of Georgia population could have embarked on this program, it would have recycled about 4,536,288 tons of trash which translates to about 235 million tons of trash in a year.
The recycling process with polyester is varied as the manufacturing processes based on the primary pellets. Polyester is used currently in a number of polyester developing processes as a mixture of virgin polymer or gradually as a fully recycled polymer. This is dependent on the pure form of the recycled materials. Some exceptions like BOPET-film with stumpy thickness, unique applications resembling optical films and microfilaments or fibers that are produced from virgin polyester only (Gehrke, 2010).
There exist a number of internal recycling processes, where fiber is reused directly to produce fiber and the same to both performs and films. In a nut shell, the following general, simple procedure is used in the process. First is the bale opening, and then followed by the selection and sorting for different colors and the foreign polymers. Next before the cutting process is pre-washing. Stones are then removed and other metal and glass debris. Filtering of air is done to eliminate film paper and labels. It is then ground and then removal of low density polymers is achieved. Hot wash is initially done. This is followed by caustic wash, which maintains the intrinsic viscosity. After which the rinsing is done twice. It is then dried and followed by air sifting flakes before sorting the flakes automatically. Water treatment technology is then employed to attain flake quality.
There exist some imperfections which are experienced in the process. The problems can be categorized in to several groups. The polyester –OH or –COOH end groups can be transformed into the non reactive groups for example, the formation of vinyl ester end group. The end group can also shifting in the direction of the –COOH end group. Also increase in the number of poly-functional macromolecules and the number, variety and concentration of non- polymer identical organic and inorganic compounds may also increase (Eiri, 2007).
They can be detected through chemical or physical processes through rise of the –COOH end group, oligomer content and the reduction in filterability. This detection could also be through increasing of acetaldehyde byproducts, increasing of extractable foreign contaminant, decreasing in oil intrinsic viscosity as well as decreasing of crystallization temperature and increasing crystallization speed, decreasing in physical aspects like tensile strength, and widening of the distribution of molecular weight.
The United States Government must intervene to salvage the problem of plastics on the environment. The avenues that the government should employ to work towards a zero waste in the future are as follows: Organics ought to be eliminated from incinerators and landfills. Close to 60 percent of wastes from households is recyclable, but only 8% are being recycled. Creating programs to ease the problems of waste disposal should be incorporated to enhance the rates of composition. The programs are presently in a few states and cities only (Eiri, 2007).
The government should also encourage the usage of trash cans in people’s homes to help in collecting and minimizing waste materials. Most of our waste matter should be put in the recycling bins which the municipal council should provide on a regular basis. If we decide to throw away products relative to recycling or reusing them, then this implies blazing more vestige fuels to shred virgin wood and other resources from the surface of the earth (Board, 2007). Our recycling rate should be increased from the current 20% to 40%. This would create an effect on greenhouse gas emissions that are analogous to removing one million commuter vehicles from the roads.
Managing the electronic waste is a major concern in the United States. Used and defective electronics forms part of a major menace in the United States and it poses a big problem to the health of citizens. These includes broken cell phones, obsolete television sets etc. Regulations are in place for nine states that view the recycling of electronics as a major requirement. Other states are instituting new laws and regulations to help curb the problem of waste materials. The other remaining States should also embark on fostering these laws in order to help promote the recycling process (Board, 2007).
The current bottle bills should be expanded by the government. In the United States, more than 2 million tons of plastics were held in the trash and this large amount of trash was not recycled. The State container deposit law requires upgrade to cater for the problems currently being faced (Bary, 2003). They have demonstrated that they are indeed the most successful loom to the collection of cans and bottles. Currently, only 11 states have bottle bills in America, and nearly all of them comprise only soda and beer bottles. This bill with a superior deposit would boost the bottle recycling rates.
It is apparent that the EPA has recorded that America uses about 500 billion plastic bags every year. Out of this, they only recycle plastics less than 10 percent of what is consumed. Georgia is not left behind in this menace as they also leave a lot of trash to go into the bins rather than recycling them. Georgia alone consumes about 50 billion plastic bags every year (Andrady, 2003).
The government should hasten its involvement in the recycling process in a much serious manner. This could also prevent the plastics from getting into the general environment. It is necessary to address the plastic problem. San Francisco banned the distribution and usage of plastics by grocery stores in 2007. Some stores in the Nation are providing incentives to shoppers to lessen plastic bag use. The incentives include offering cash for any reused bag, selling recognized reusable bags and installing the drop off posts in several stores to hearten reuse. This is a good strategy for future advancement in this sector (Andrady, 2003).