Essay on History of Plastics

Essay on History of Plastics

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Background Information
Plastic plays an important role in our lives due to its ability to be functional in a number of different ways from plastic water bottles do the rubber on car tires. It seems as if everything is made of plastic in this day and age, but what happens once the consumers are done with the product? Statistics Canada showed in that 2012 Canadians produced, on average, 13.4 million tonnes of waste, 73% of which were sent for disposal. Of the 27% of waste that was recycled, a mere 17% of plastics was recycled properly, while the rest was sent to landfills. (Babooram & Wang, 2013). Improper disposal is a problem because plastic, once placed in a landfill it is unable fully break down (Platt, 2001). The logical solution for the plastics in landfills unable to degrade is to use biodegradable plastics. However, are biodegradable plastics the answer to society’s addiction to plastic? Arguments have been made on whether the pros of biodegradable plastics outweigh the cons and whether their usage will truly make a difference in our world.
Survey Results
The results from the survey; Biodegradable plastics, showed that most people are not knowledgeable about biodegradable plastics but did their best to be environmentally conscious. The survey showed those who knew the definition to biodegradable were more environmentally conscious and had more knowledge on this subject. A trend in the survey was the older the age group the more knowledgeable they were about biodegradable plastics. A general trend in the survey showed that many were surprised to learn that biodegradable plastics placed in landfills will not degrade. They also did not know that biodegradable plastics cannot be recycled with regular plastics and will be sorte...

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...of microorganisms, need to be at a certain temperature, moisture and gain the proper nutrients to degrade (Platt, 2001). However, if consumers are unwilling to take the time and properly recycle these biodegradable plastics – as shown in the survey- they will end up in the landfills and take just as much time to break down as regular plastics (Szaky, 2012). As plastic never fully degrades, that means biodegradable plastics will not as well within a landfill. Landfills are specifically designed to be air tight and to be free of moisture, not even allowing organic materials such as food waste to be broken down, even after long periods of time (Di Mungo, 2012). Therefore, the intentions of the consumer may be good, but if they do not educate themselves about biodegradable plastics and learn to properly dispose of them the purpose of plastic being biodegradable is lost.

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