Only 10% of the world’s plastic waste is recycled. Between 12% and 15% is incinerated and the rest ends up in landfills or directly into the environment.
Plastic has a toxic effect that lasts from its production to its decomposition. – Thousands of substances are released at different stages of the plastic life cycle: during production and use. Many of them are well-known carcinogens or endocrine disruptors, as well as neurotoxic substances, warns David Azoulay of the Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL) Environmental Protection Program.
When we talk about plastic, there is no safe solution. Even in the case of good quality plastics [eg. poly (ethylene terephthalate), PET, commonly used in food and beverage packaging, they lose 40% of weight during the recycling process, which also pollutes the environment.
“Basically, after two cycles of using plastic (use – recycling – use), there’s nothing else you can do with it,” says Azoulay. According to PlasticsEurope, only 7.4% of European plastic production is PET.
Only 10% of the world’s plastic waste is recycled. Between 12% and 15% is incinerated and the rest ends up in landfills or directly into the environment. Many countries importing most of the world’s plastic waste today simply incinerate it outdoors.
– When you burn plastic, you release some of the most dangerous and carcinogenic substances on the planet. A poisonous substance called Agent Orange, which the US military used during the Vietnam War, contains such dioxins, Azoulay explains. Advanced combustion methods, while being a better option, also carry serious risks. A November 2018 study by Zero Waste Europe found that even the most modern incinerators emit dioxins and other harmful pollutants. In Europe, 39% of plastic waste is incinerated in modern incineration plants.