Plastics are synthetic substances produced by chemical reactions. Almost all plastics are made from
petroleum. ‘Plastics’ derived their name from their properties to be molded, cast, extruded or processed into variety of forms like solid objects, films and filaments. These properties arise from their molecular structure.
Plastics are polymers, very long chain molecules that consist of subunits (monomers) linked together by chemical bonds. In other words plastics are micro-molecules, formed by polymerization and having the ability to be shaped by the application of reasonable amount of heat and pressure or any other form of forces. This great human creation changed the world and brought comfort to our lifestyle. Now plastics are in all human
activity ranging from clothing to shelter, infrastructure to communication, agriculture to construction, hardware to packaging and entertainment to health care. Its attractive properties, lightweight and high
strength meets a large share of the materials needs of man and that too at a comparatively lesser cost. Due to large benefits of plastics in different applications, its use is increasing all around the world industries. The plastic products namely carry bags, blood bags, colored plastics pots are fast becoming popular both in rural and urban areas of India. But in the last ten years due to the widespread littering of plastics on the land, plastic waste has attracted attention in India.
Aspects related to plastic waste management :-
The environment hazards due to
mismanagement of plastic waste include the following aspects:
1) Most common method of disposing of wastes is to dump them in low lying areas on the
outskirts of towns which is unhealthy and unscientific.
2) has serious environmental impacts on water and air pollution and soil degradation.
3) The major concern for this waste stream i.e. particularly plastic, is that these are non-
biodegradable and remains in the environment for several years.
4) Clogging of drains by plastic waste is a common problem.
5) Garbage containing plastic when burnt may cause air pollution by emitting polluting gasses.
Classification of plastics:-
Plastic is the general term for a wide range of synthetic or semi synthetic polymerization products.
Their name is derived from the fact that many are malleable, having the property of plasticity. They are composed of organic condensation or addition polymers and may contain other substances to improve performance or economics. There are few natural polymers. Plastic can be classified in many ways, but most commonly by their physical properties. Plastic, depending on their physical properties, may be classified as thermoplastic or thermosetting materials. Thermoplastic materials can be formed into desired shapes under heat and pressure and become solids on cooling. If they are subjected to the same condition of heat and pressure, they can be remolded. Thermosetting materials which once shaped cannot be softened/remolded by the application of heat.
Methodology for plastic waste management:-
Plastic waste can be controlled on the basis of following factors :
1) Ban on use of plastics-
Several Indian states banned use of plastic. The ministry has also asked state Governments to
register all plastics manufacturing units, so that these can be regulated.
2)Invention turns plastic bags back into oil-
Akinori Ito a Japanese inventor has invented a device that will turn ordinary plastic shopping bags
into gasoline. Iro’s device come from a simple idea. Plastic bags are made out of oil, so there should be a way to change them back and recapture the energy inside them.
The device melts plastic bags, filters and cools the vapors then condenses them back into crude oil which can be used as fuel. An additional step turns the crude oil into gasoline, providing an even more versatile energy source.
3) Plastics waste disposal through plasma pyrolysis technology (PPT)-
Plasma Pyrolysis is a state of the art technology, which integrates the thermochemical properties of
plasma with the pyrolysis process. The intense and versatile heat generation capabilities of PPT enable it to dispose off all types of plastic wastes including polymeric, biomedical and hazardous waste in a safe and reliable manner.
4) Conversion of plastics waste into liquid fuel-
A research-cum-demonstration plant was set up at Nagpur, Maharashtra for conversion of waste plastics into liquid fuel. The process adopted is based on random de-polymerization of waste plastics into liquid fuel in presence of a catalyst. The entire process is undertaken in closed reactor vessel followed by condensation, if required.
5) Environment related observations during the process-
a) There are no liquid industrial effluents and no floor washings as it is a dry process.
b) There are no organized stack and process emissions.
c) PVC plastics waste is used and if used, it was less than 1%. In case PVC is used, the chlorine can be converted into hydrochloric acid as a by-product.
From the above it is concluded that the environmental hazards due to mismanagement of
plastic waste can be minimized:
a) By providing healthy plastic alternatives like paper bags and bottles which are environment
b) Requires more research and development to make plastic more environment friendly.
c) If we have the will, we can start reducing their use in small ways.
d) Educate users to the right disposal methods.
e) Recycling plastic bags that you can recycle.
f) Buy products with bio-degradable packing such as jute bags, cotton bags, and paper bags.
g) Re-use your plastic shopping bags or better still don’t use plastic bags.