Kaivanya Extrusion: Explainer | How do we recycle plastic?

There are three kinds of recycling — biological, mechanical, and chemical. However, most recycling innovations enable a transition to a fully circular model that circulates plastics in an endless loop, where our dependence on fossil fuel resources is continually reinforced

  • Plastics were once considered a revolutionary material that would replace natural, scarce products. It wasn’t until the 1960s that plastic pollution was first recorded in the ocean by scientists studying plankton.
  • Consumers’ throwaway mentality, individual carbon audits, pledges to curb single-use plastics, upcycling and zero-waste lifestyles are being touted as solutions, while petrochemical industries continue with business as usual.
  • In January 2022, the Ministry of Environment, Forest, and Climate Change (MOEFCC) issued the new Extended Producer’s Responsibility (EPR) rules that specify the quantity of waste to be managed by producers, importers, and brand owners who generate plastic packaging waste.

Plastics today are blighted, as their impact on the environment has now been exposed. But it was not always so. In 1869, the first synthetic polymer named celluloid – marked the transition from natural, exploitative products such as ivory, tortoiseshell, and horn, to inexpensive, human-manufactured materials. In 1907, the first fully synthetic non-flammable plastic, bakelite, was developed.

During World War II, as the availability of metal, wood, glass, and paper dwindled, plastic production increased. Synthetic plastics offered unimagined advantages over traditional materials. Plastics replaced the bonding agent in the plywood construction of military planes and were used for many aircraft parts. Vinyl plastic-based paints and varnishes provided a protective coating for military craft, both in air and in water. Nylon replaced silk in ropes, parachutes, body armor, and helmet liners. Acrylic sheets are also known as plexiglass was used instead of glass in aircraft windows. Buttons, batons, radios, razors, toiletry containers, and cockpit housings – plastics were everywhere.

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