Plastic Recycling Research Paper

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Abstract

Recycling is a process to change waste materials into new products to prevent waste of potentially useful materials, reduce the consumption of fresh raw materials, reduce energy usage, reduce air and water pollution by reducing the need for "conventional" waste disposal, and lower greenhouse gas emissions. Recycling is a key component of modern waste reduction and is the third component of the "Reduce, Reuse and Recycle" waste hierarchy.

Introduction

We are currently living in what is known as the polymer/ plastic age. We as humans are reliant on objects and materials that take a lot of energy to produce and are hazardous to the environment itself. We do not realise the extent of damage that this, especially plastic, causes and
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• Research on polymers and plastic
• Research about statistics of plastic usage

Findings

Plastic is a material consisting of any of a wide range of synthetic or semi-synthetic organics that are malleable and can be moulded into solid objects of diverse shapes. Plastics are typically organic polymers of high molecular mass, but they often contain other substances.

A polymer is a large molecule, or macromolecule, composed of many repeated subunits. Due to their broad range of properties, both synthetic and natural polymers play an essential and universal role in everyday life. Polymers range from familiar synthetic plastics such as polystyrene to natural biopolymers such as DNA and proteins that are fundamental to biological structure and function. Polymers, both natural and synthetic, are created via polymerization of many small molecules, known as monomers.

There are many different types of plastics such as:

• Polyester (PES) – Fibers, textiles.
• Polyethylene terephthalate (PET) – Carbonated drinks bottles, peanut butter jars, plastic film, microwavable packaging.
• Polyethylene (PE) – Wide range of inexpensive uses including supermarket bags, plastic
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Fossil fuels are running out with new plastic production accounting for 4 % of energy consumption.

The data obtained below represents the amount of plastic one uses every day and weekly in a typical South African home. These products/objects can be anything from milk bottles, sandwich bags etc.

Table representing the amount of plastic (any item) used by each interviewee on a daily and weekly basis

Interviewee Daily Weekly
Person one 6 20
Person two 12 24
Person three 14 27
Person four 17 32
Person five 9 17
Total: 58 120

*These values are estimated as I did not ask any of the interviewee’s to count their plastic waste.
These results indicate that on average five people use 58 objects of plastic. This is considerably low however if one were to look at this on a weekly basis or even yearly basis these amounts increase significantly.

Not all plastic is recyclable therefore proving the hypothesis. Each group of plastic polymer can be identified by its Plastic Identification code (PIC) and from there by its resin identification code which can be found at the bottom of the product is a

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