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Thread: Is it wasteful to incinerate plastic, if useful energy is produced?

  1. #1
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    Is it wasteful to incinerate plastic, if useful energy is produced?

    I realise that there are other elements in plastic other than carbon and hydrogen, but is it more wasteful than burning oil directly?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mudskipper View Post
    I realise that there are other elements in plastic other than carbon and hydrogen, but is it more wasteful than burning oil directly?
    It takes energy to go from oil to plastic; some portion of that energy is unrecoverable.

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  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mudskipper View Post
    I realise that there are other elements in plastic other than carbon and hydrogen, but is it more wasteful than burning oil directly?
    there is not just the energy issue. Nor just the CO2 issue, plastics used in food packaging make up a very large fraction of all plastics and they are not allowed to be recycled for food again. Disposing of them is a big reason for incineration or pyrolysis. There is a campaign now to reduce single use plastics like drinking straws which are really unnecessary but at the moment we do not want them dumped at sea. This year China has stopped accepting plastics from UK for processing so we have to get to grips with waste plastics. Ideally there will be a process that recovers energy and locks up the CO2. At present there are not enough applications to reuse all the waste as new plastics.
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    China stopped accepting plastics contaminated with other garbage.

    Clean up and sort better and the Chinese will take it.

    California sends more than all of Britain. The recyclers can't be lazy and cheap with the sorting anymore.
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    Quote Originally Posted by BigDon View Post
    China stopped accepting plastics contaminated with other garbage.

    Clean up and sort better and the Chinese will take it.

    California sends more than all of Britain. The recyclers can't be lazy and cheap with the sorting anymore.
    With about 26,000,000 fewer people.

    My first thought to the thread title was "Less wasteful than landfilling it. More wasteful than recycling it."
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  6. #6
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    it's a good bee to have in your bonnet, food packaging, something like 20 million tons per year and increasing, such a lot of that could be switched to no pack, biodegradable pack or reuse packaging. In terms of the plastics in the environment issue, food packaging is the place to start.
    sicut vis videre esto
    When we realize that patterns don't exist in the universe, they are a template that we hold to the universe to make sense of it, it all makes a lot more sense.
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    Plastic has lots of nice reduced carbon compounds in it that can easily be broken down and made into other things.
    Lignin and cellulose, not so much.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Squink View Post
    Plastic has lots of nice reduced carbon compounds in it that can easily be broken down and made into other things.
    Lignin and cellulose, not so much.
    When they end up in the oceans cellulose gets recycled as life, plastics mostly as death, to be over dramatic but that's one of our pressing problems.
    sicut vis videre esto
    When we realize that patterns don't exist in the universe, they are a template that we hold to the universe to make sense of it, it all makes a lot more sense.
    Originally Posted by Ken G

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