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RE: [GreenYes] Plastics and TRUE recycling
I'd say yes Paul, you are degrading the meaning of the fine word:
"Recycling".  If a material makes it back through the cycle of production
and consumption a single time, then it has indeed been successfully
recycled, even if it was 'downcycled'.  In regard to plastics; whether we
get two or twenty product cycles out of a particular molecule of ethylene,
it will eventually require disposal.  So I ask which is more efficient;
pulling petroleum from the ground, converting it to plastic, and then
burying the stuff in a hole; or to to combust end-of-life plastics (except
for PVC) and release their stored energy, thereby reducing the demand for
"virgin fossil" fuels.  Burning most plastics (as processed fuel, not MSW)
in a controlled manner is no more noxious than burning the petroleum
products that they were originally derived from.  The simple fact is that
plastics are here to stay, and rather than behaving as luddites, we should
be trying to make the best of the situation.  Until we get much further down
the road to a biobased economy, plastics recycling is an imperfect process
that requires constant attention, and energy recovery should be an option.
Jay Donnaway
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