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Eddie Russell
Associate Professor
Asked a question last year

Is recycling plastics really a good idea?

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Virtually all plastic waste from plastic manufacturing processes is recycled back into those processes and has been since the development of thermoplastics; that is why thermoplastics have been chosen over other materials. The processes are less expensive than other processes mainly because they use far less energy than other processes; plastic waste can be easily recycled back into the production process and the processes can be very highly automated.

Recycling of post industrial plastics is the normal way of disposal; processers will buy post industrial plastics. Processors will also buy post commercial plastics such as fishing nets and lines made from PA6 and PA66. Processors will also buy used carpets made from the same material — virtually all wall-to-wall carpet is made from PA6 and PA66, which is called Nylon.

Post consumer plastic waste is impossible to recycle into plastics at an acceptable price even when the work of gathering and sorting the plastics is free. There are far too many different plastics and they cannot be distinguished from one another except in a laboratory. Since plastics are made from crude oil and natural gas it is far better to recycle post consumer plastic waste into energy and save the crude oil and natural gas for producing plastics.

Over 50 years ago many scientists and engineers proposed the simplest most intelligent way of recycling garbage; but the leftist politicians would have none of that; they would rather recycle and naturally attenuate everything at great cost than do the most sensible thing, recycle garbage into energy and metal ore to be refined back into metals for new products.

All organic material burns and turns into CO2 and H20 — carbon dioxide and water — at high temperature and a coal-fired electrical power plant is the ideal place to do it. Coal is not pure carbon; it has many inorganic materials in it which drop to the bottom of the boiler where the coal is burned; and these materials are removed to be recycled into useful materials. The coal itself is pulverized into fine particles which are blown into the boiler and ignited — it looks a lot like a giant rocket engine — to turn water into super-heated steam which produces the electricity in a steam turbine.

Garbage could also be shredded, pulverized and blown into the same boiler as the coal. The organic material would burn and the inorganic material would drop to the floor of the boiler in the same way as the coal. Since virtually all plastics used today are organic all post-consumer plastics could be recycled into energy and useful materials. There would be no need to separate plastics or metals. Everything would be turned into energy or a rich metallic ore to be refined into metals and other useful materials. The same thing could be done with oil- or natural gas-fired power plants that heat steam in a boiler to produce electricity.

The idea that CO2 produces global warming is a total hoax; every part of the hoax has been disproven by real scientists; yet politically, the hoax is real and the lies are true. It is just like the acid rain hoax; yet the EPA still monitors SO2 from coal-fired power plants. For every “scientist” who claims these hoaxes are true, there are thousands of real scientists who would say they are not true were it not for their fear of losing their jobs.