Climate change may or may not be occurring, but one thing that is accumulating is household and industrial garbage. Much of this is in the form of the dreaded plastic.
Much of this plastic still sadly finds its way into the rivers and streams and eventually the oceans of the world. It then kills wildlife and toxic plastic can then end up on our dinner plates.
One can therefore see the argument for recycling and why the government is so keen to monitor and ultimately household rubbish output. The furore over micro-chipping our bins still rumbles on for example.
Recycling sounds very sensible, but plastic is made from the oil we extract from the ground of which only a little becomes fuel. Without plastic production we’d have more unused waste to dispose of. In some ways then the use of plastic can be seen as the recycling of the fuel industry’s waste. There is a lot of it, hence why supermarkets can afford to give plastic bags away. In fact the plastic industry was born of the need to find a use for the fuel production waste by-product. It probably also keeps the cost of fuel down for the consumer.
So, for me, recycling plastic as viewed presently misses the point somewhat. The waste matter in question is not the plastic but the material it was derived from. Plastic is the first phase of recycling as use is being made of a waste by-product. But further recycling will add to the overall amount of plastic in circulation. Or it will mean the need for ever larger facilities to store fuel production waste.
For other waste products there is some good news. There are companies now interested in mining landfill sites to look for certain things. According to an article in Money Week it may make more economic sense to look for gold in a landfill site than in a South African gold-mine. There is also potential profit in electronic and medical waste as well as landfill gas. But plastic is so plentiful and cheap no-one is going to mine landfill for it.
Plastic in the form of bottles, computers, containers and building material is already recycling in action. The next challenge is to find a more permanent use for it so that it never ends up in landfill and oceans.
The first step for me would be to make all the physical banknotes and coins in the world out of plastic, that would never be thrown away would it? Then followed up maybe with all legal documents such as deeds and wills being transcribed onto plastic film.
The other option of course would be to pump all liquid fuel by-products back into exhausted oil-fields.