With a massive consumer dependability on plastic (containers, water bottles, garbage bags, toys...) it is estimated that up to 25% of landfill waste is made up of some sort of plastic, not all of it bio-degradeable or toxin-free. Plastic bags take up to 1,000 years to degrade, while some other plastic compounds simply break down into little pieces and exist forever.
One of the main environmental concerns is the overflow of landfill garbage that makes it's way to major waterways around the world. We've all heard the stories of massive water bottle islands strangling birds in the middle of the ocean; or of the hoards of perished marine life that ingests plastic pieces floating in rivers and lakes. Another concern is the incineration burning of dumped plastic - a process that sends toxic chemicals and fossil fuels up into the atmosphere.
Recycling Makes Sense
With a enviro-threat and with landfills already intoxicated and over-used, recycling and reusing plastic products is really the only sensible choice. First of all, recycling plastic into new products not only keeps it from the dump, but also saves energy by avoiding having to make a new item from scratch. In the US and Canada, there is already a major push to recycle waste with plastics recycling programs available widely.
However, there is an even better solution for plastic products and that is to re-use. Depending on the quality, refillable or reusable plastic containers can be used for years, substantially reducing the amount of discardable waste that goes into landfills. And even more beneficial is the reuse of non-toxic polypropylene products (food containers,etc.) which can go from varying temperatures (freezer to microwave) without any worry of harmful leaching chemicals.
Overall, the use and need for plastic in manufacturing is limitless. But now with more innovative recycling programs, plastic can be efficiently recycled into other uses, while refillable plastic products can reused, using the least energy and fewest resources.