All of the plastic currently sitting in US landfills is worth billions of dollars

All of the plastic currently sitting in US landfills is worth billions of dollars ...

According to new guidance from the Department of Energy, the United States sent an average of $7.2 billion dollars in plastic to landfills in 2019.

When it comes to the price of manufacturing, marketing, and processing all of the trashed material, the costs for the economy are enormous. Nor does that matter the environmental cost of plastic pollution.

Although landfills are often considered the cheapest way to dispose of waste, in many ways they''re a shortsighted approach. In the long run, a circular economy of plastics might save big bucks, anywhere between $4.5 billion and $9.9 billion.

Recycling plastic is more expensive than making new plastic, which means businesses have little incentive to dig through landfills for old materials. In many ways, petroleum products are so cheap, but their affordability presents a significant threat to our planet and, down the line, our economy.

According to a recent DOE study, around 44 million tons of plastic waste were managed by private and public businesses in the United States in 2019.

The amount of plastic waste has been made less than reported by the US Environmental Protection Agency, which has accumulated 32 million tons of waste.

Researchers estimated that only 5 percent of all that plastic was recycled in 2019, while another 86 percent was abandoned.

"Plastic waste is not just an environmental issue, it''s also an environmental problem. It''s also an land use issue, especially when landfills are closed in many areas," says an energy analyst. Anelia Milbrandt, who is working at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, believes the problem focuses on politics.

"What do we do with all of our waste? It must go somewhere."

It''s the most straightforward task to leave it in a landfill, but it also saves money and energy.

Plastic waste was accounted for about 12 percent of the entire industrial sector''s energy consumption in the United States in 2019.

The production of petrochemicals, which is a significant source of carbon emissions, is required for synthetic polymers.

If only one ton of plastic is recycled,past estimates suggestit might save 13.8 barrels of oil and 810 cubic feet of landfill space.

The average ''embodied'' energy of plastics is about 100 megajoules per kilogram. That''s nearly four times the amount of energy used in steel, which is one of the most energy-intensive materials to produce.

"Being plastic waste instead of virgin plastic in products creates opportunities for energy savings and reducing the effects of embodied energy," researchers write.

The new estimates are based on 44 waste composition reports across 37 US states, with data covering more than 1,776 active landfills and 85 combustion facilities.

Plastic waste constitutes around 14 percent of all municipal solid waste, according to samples from the United Nations in 2019.

In some states, like Kansas, Nebraska, and North Carolina, the percentages of plastic waste in landfills increased by 18 percent.

Most of the plastic products that were sampled fell into categories of plastic film, plastic wrap, and plastic bags. Plastic bottles were more likely to be recycled.

The most plastic waste was sent to landfills in cities such as California, Texas, and Florida. While New York City shipped a large amount of plastic waste to the surrounding states due to a lack of space.

The authors of the report hope that their findings will help to encourage policy changes in order to foster a green-collapse system across the country.

Plastic waste in the United States has been piling up at a frightening rate, since China''s recycling industries have lifted its weight. Instead, plastic initially intended for recycling facilities has been transported to landfill.

Investing in newrecyclingtechnology would assist divert some of the waste from landfills. As might improve sorting techniques, so we can select recyclable materials in the finest and most efficient manner possible.

"I believe that local governments and industry developers will benefit from this report by providing them information to assist people," says Milbrandt.

In the meantime, every piece of plastic we do not reuse represents a loss of money, a loss of energy, and a loss of opportunities.

InResources, Conservation, and Recycling, the study was published.

You may also like: