The Advantages and Disadvantages of Plastic Recycling

Milan Djordjevich
3 min readMar 17, 2022

Primarily, recycling is the conversion of waste products to usable materials. Roughly 36 percent of plastic produced yearly goes into plastic packaging because it is a cheap and easy storage method. However, these plastics burden the environment. The rationale behind recycling is to convert waste into useful products instead of polluting the earth for years.

One of the major advantages of recycling is that it reduces pollution across ecosystems. One of the primary reasons for the increasing pollution levels is greenhouse gases. Greenhouse gases are the main catalysts causing climate change. It is a critical issue the world is trying to resolve. While plastics are being manufactured, greenhouse gases are emitted. So, instead of producing plastic, recycling plastic significantly reduces the emission of greenhouse gases.

Plastic waste contaminates water, land, and even soil. Even more, it is the leading cause of the death of thousands of animals on land and seas due to ingestion. So, the reduction of plastic production also helps preserve wildlife.

Recycling also requires less energy than plastic production, and it helps conserve natural resources. The energy saved from not manufacturing plastics can be used in other aspects of one’s economy. In addition, the plastic production process requires natural resources such as petroleum, natural gas, and coal. Consequently, recycling would help conserve precious natural resources. For example, approximately 40 percent of petroleum consumption can be reduced if recycling old plastics is put into use.

Another merit of recycling is that it eases the demand for fossil fuel consumption. A considerable number of crude oil barrels are used in plastic production yearly. So, recycling is a practical measure to lower fossil fuel usage.

More so, recycling also helps in saving energy. According to a study from Stanford University, a ton of recycled plastics saves approximately 7200 kilowatt-hours of electricity — that’s enough power to run a house for seven months.

Despite plastic recycling’s numerous advantages, it also has notable disadvantages. One such disadvantage is that it poses health problems. Plastic recycling involves the melting down of used plastics. In the process, VOCs, volatile organic compounds, are released into the environment. These fumes are harmful to plants and animals surrounding the industrial site.

In addition, it presents health threats to individuals that involve themselves with recycled plastics. For example, the recycling process requires plastic resin that originates from petroleum. This resin can enter foods in recycled plastic containers.

The chemical amount consumers may ingest increases, depending on the plastic type, plastic age, and temperature. Even though the US Food and Drug Administration does not specify recycled plastics as a threat to human health, most plastic manufacturers use small portions of recycled plastics, especially in the production of packaging containers.

Another disadvantage of recycled plastics is downcycling. Due to the health threats, recycled plastics may pose a big part of plastic recycling is downcycling. Downcycling is when recycled plastic becomes a less valuable product instead of a new useful container. For instance, a plastic water bottle after recycling may become plastic furniture. The limited use of recycled plastics makes them less useful than new plastics.

Lastly, plastic recycling involves using tons of garbage, requiring separate factories. This can lead to more pollution and energy usage to sort, transport, and properly clean the waste materials.

Originally published at http://milandjordjevichsite.wordpress.com on March 17, 2022.

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Milan Djordjevich
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Springfield Mo. Sales Leader Milan Djordjevich