Benefits of Chemical Recycling of Plastics Essay

  1. Background and Definition

Current statistics have established that an approximated mass of 8.3 billion metric tons of plastics have already been produced worldwide. Human beings from all over the world today increasingly need plastics for different purposes. Beverage and food containers, grocery packaging bags, utensils, toys and diapers as well as bottled water are made of plastic.  The global need for plastic products in most developed countries has increased from 1% in 1960s to more than 13.6% currently(EPA, 2018). For example, the International Bottled Water Association issued in its annual formal reports that the United States alone consumes 9.67 Billion gallons of plastics bottled water in the year 2012 compared to 7.6 billion gallons used in the previous two years (Morra, 2014). With increased industrialization, the amount of plastics requir2ed around the globe is bound to go up. However, statistics have also provided that close to 9.1% of the total plastics produced is not recycled.

To begin with, recycling of plastics can be described as the process through which waste plastic materials are recovered and processed into rather useful forms of products. Thesenon-recycled plastics are let out into the environment and this raise an alarm for environmental concern due to their potentiality to contaminate the environment. A number of recycling procedures for used plastics have been proposed as a step to protecting the well-being of the environment (Grigore, 2017). Contending virtual ideas have been expressed by both the environmentalists as well as industries about the issue of plastics ants environmental concerns While industries lobby for improving plastics for better environmental response and nurse beliefs that there are limited far reaching effects of plastics, environmentalists all over the world collectively pursue a ban on the use of plastics in entirety. Recycling of plastics regulates the amount of energy and natural resource that is needed to create new plastics and saves landfills out of potential pollution. Besides, recycling of used plastics and reduces additional carbon pollutants released into the atmosphere. However, a group of non-recycled plastics can be put to other uses so as to mitigate their environmental hazards.Benefits of Chemical Recycling of Plastics Essay



  1. Benefits of Chemical Recycling of Plastics

2.1 Recycling Plastics Saves Landfill Space from possible Pollution

Recycling of plastics saves landfills from potential pollution.Most plastics are non-biodegradable since they are manufactured by bonding millions of polymer substances. This means that when buried, both micro and macro organisms found in the soils cannot break them down to other chemicals that are less harmful to soils (Grigore, 2017). Recycling plastics is a strategy that keeps the out of landfills as they are reprocessed into other products that are useful to human beings. Statistics have established that recycling a single ton (1 ton) of plastics has the potential to save up to 7.4 cubic yards of landfill space. On the other hand, recycling 2000 tons of paper has the potential to expand the space that would accommodate 32,000 trees.

In spaces that can accommodate natural resources, this space could also accommodate 400 tons of iron core as well as limestone which are valuable minerals to the economy. In the United States, recycling efforts has led to the creation of more than 60 landfills which have hence saved the possible destruction of forests. EPA, (2018) reports have asserted that recycling 1 ton of paper in the US possibly saves a space that could accommodate seventeen trees. Therefore, the total amount of landfills space in the United States would save more than 700 Million trees. Therefore, any efforts extended towards recycling plastic materials has far reaching impact on saving landfills and the beneficial natural resources in them.Benefits of Chemical Recycling of Plastics Essay

2.2 Recycling Plastics Saves Natural Resources and Energy

Practices towards recycling of plastic materials reduce the amount of energy and natural resources. Recycling has the potential to save trees and natural resources that would rather be used to create new plastics to take care of the increasing demands. When 1ton of plastics is recycled, it prevents the destruction of economically valuable resources such as trees and minerals that could otherwise be used to produce other new materials. For example, possible recycling of plastics saves disposal land that could instead hold other natural resources such as as trees and minerals that could be extracted to manufacture products such as glasses. On the other hand, large amounts of water resources that is used to mine, refine, process and manufacture new products could be saved if recycling efforts for recycling plastics was doubled. In the year 2009 alone, EPA reports estimated that recycling 1 ton of plastics saved close to seventeen trees, 7,000 gallons of water. The 42 Million tons of plastic recycled in that year alone saved an approximated number of 714 million trees as well as 294 billion gallons of water.

Nevertheless, research has established that recycling of plastics saves a considerable amount of energy needed to create new plastics into the market. The polymer chains used to make different forms of plastics are extracted, refined, heated and restructured using energy. However, with recycling of the available plastics, the entire process of manufacturing new plastics is eliminated and hence the energy can be used for other more valuable production lines. Besides, the products that are made from existing plastic materials require comparatively less energy than that used to make new plastics. Therefore, chemical recycling of plastic materials is a guaranteed means through which both natural resources and energy can be conserved.Benefits of Chemical Recycling of Plastics Essay

2.3 Recycling Plastics Saves the Atmosphere from Possible Pollution

Chemical recycling of plastics saves the atmospheric air from potential pollution. Chemical recycling of plastics reduces the emission of Greenhouse gases, first by reducing the consumption of petroleum products used by the plastic manufacturing and processing plants, and second, by eliminating the need for disposal through burning (Killinger, 2010). In the United States for example, the Pennsylvanian environmental department reported that recycling of plastics reduced the emission of greenhouse by an equivalent of 9million tons of carbon dioxide. This reduction was cited to the ability of recycling efforts to reduce the need for plants to burn fossil fuels such as petroleum products (DEP, 2018). EPA, (2018) reports claimed that in the year 2009, approximately 25 million tons of possible greenhouse gas emissions were eliminated through putting in recycling strategies in which more than four million tons of plastics were successfully recycled (Bonakdarpour & Smit, 2017).

Additionally, diverting plastic materials from landfills into recycling decreases the levels of greenhouse gases emitted to the atmosphere. The Greenhouse gases emitted from landfills disposal consist of both methane and carbon dioxide gases in almost equal measures. In the United States, landfills are the third largest source of human- produced methane. On the other hand, possible disposal of plastics by burning increases the level of gas emissions that worsen air pollution. Greenhouse gases are detrimental to the environment since they increase on the levels of global warming. Therefore, recycling has proved to necessary equipment in mitigating air pollution and possible global warming.Benefits of Chemical Recycling of Plastics Essay

  1. Non-recycled plastics

Despite the decisional need for pro- plastic recycling policies, there is a group of non-recycled plastics which, when exposed to the environment, would extend far reaching effects. New technologies have offered sustainable solution that shift non-recycled plastics away from landfills and convert them into valuable sources of energy as well as other plastic material products (Killinger, 2010). According to the American Chemistry Council, converting used plastics alongside other garbage into usable energy has the potential to provide power more than 14 Million homes each year.

Non-recycled plastics can possibly help companies recover the embedded energy content when they apply collaborative efforts to explore these alternative sources of energy. For example, in the event that Dow’s energy bags were implemented throughout America, more than five million metric tons of plastic could be kept out of landfills. This amount of plastic is sufficient to produce an estimated number of one Billion gallons of fuel each year. The process used to convert non-recycled plastics to energy forms is known as pyrolysis, which is a technology that applies heat to transform plastics to energy end products in the absence of oxygen(Czajczyńskaa, et al., 2017). The process is reversible and hence product can be transformed back to plastic. Therefore, such efforts that convert non recycled plastics could be used to reduce their presence in landfills.Benefits of Chemical Recycling of Plastics Essay


There is a continuous global increase in the need for plastic materials which necessitates the need for more and more plastics. However, plastics lead to detrimental effectsif let to the environment. Chemical recycling of plastics saves landfill space from pollution saves on the natural resources and energy that could be used to produce more plastics and reduces the emission of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere. However, non-recycled plastics are subjected to the pyrolysis process which utilizes heat in the absence of oxygen to convert plastic materials to energy forms. Policies to enhance Recycling of plastic materials, therefore is an essential step to saving the environment and needs to be promotedBenefits of Chemical Recycling of Plastics Essay



Bonakdarpour, M., & Smit, K. (2017). The Economic Contributions of Recycling to the Pennsylvania Economy: A report of the Pennsylvania Recycling Markets Center . Washington, D.C : IHS Markit Economics.

D.Czajczyńskaa, L.Anguilano, H.Ghazal, R.Krzyżyńska, A.J.Reynolds, N.Spencer, & H.Jouharaa. (2017). Potential of pyrolysis processes in the waste management sector. Thermal Science and Engineering Processes, 3(1), 171-197.

EPA. (2018). Advancing Sustainable Materials Management: Facts and Figures. Wshington, DC,USA: United States Environmental Protection Agency.

Grigore, M. E. (2017). Methods of Recycling, Properties and Applications of Recycled Thermoplastic Polymers. Journal of Recycling, 2(21), 1-11.

Killinger, J. (2010). Acc Releases 2008 Report On Recycling Of Non-Bottle Rigid Plastics In The United States. New York, USA: The American Chemistry Council .

Morra, K. (2014). Soil Pollution From Recycling Centers: Case Study Analysis from the Campus of Michigan State University. Journal of Environmental Studies, 6(3), 21-26.


  1. Bonakdarpour& Smit, (2017) is from the Pennsylvanian State government website reports at


  1. Czajczyńskaa, et al., (2017) is journal article extracted from researchgate at:
  2. (2018) is extracted from the united States Environmental Protection Agencywebsite at:

  1. Grigore, M. E. (2017) is a peer reviewed journal article extracted from:
  2. Killinger, J. (2010) is a booklet extracted is from the American Chemistry Council website at:
  3. Kaycee Morra et al. is a journal article extracted from Benefits of Chemical Recycling of Plastics Essay

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