PLASTIC BAGS / FILM

PLASTIC BAGS / FILM

They are so damaging to the environment there is little wonder we pay a tax every time we purchase one – the so-called eco-tax of 20 bani for every bag. Their advantages – they’re light, cheap, and strong – have also turned them into a real threat to the environment.

They take a very long time to decompose, hundreds of years, and are widely used, by the millions. Most of them end up in municipal waste deposits, where they will survive for generations, but in Romania lots of them are just eyesores, in streets, parks, camping spots, even mountain trails.
 
How are they recycled?
 
Most plastic bags and film are made of polyethylene. The recycling process is similar to that of PET bottles. Actually, almost all plastics are recycled, broadly speaking, in the same way: sorting by colors, grinding, washing, melting and turning the resulting material into polyethylene pellets that serve as the basis for making other shopping bags and garbage bags. Unfortunately, plastics cannot be generally recycled more than once, after which they are processed into other types of products, such as wood-plastic composite lumber – a mixture of wood fibres and plastic usually used in the building of outdoor furniture and decking.
 
What are the advantages of recycling?
 
There are numeroous projects to phase out plastic shopping bags; new taxes charged on their purchase cover part of the costs incurred by managing this problem, but the truth is that we do not need a better management of waste deposits, but a practical solution with a positive impact on the environment.
 
Some of you know there are bio-degradable bags that are manufactured from the so-called “bioplastics”, materials obtained from vegetable oils, corn starch, or other natural sources. Even it seems shocking, it is almost certain you’ve swallowed at least once such a plastic! No, it’s not margarine, this is a myth – it’s some medicines that come in a small closed tube containing a powder. That tube is a bio-degradable plastic.
 
The trouble with bio-degradable bags is that they can only decompose in contact with air, but in most cases they end up in a waste deposit, stuffed somewhere below a pile of other waste. The end result is that they pollute even more.
Just like other types of plastics, shopping bags are made by processing hydrocarbons, mainly crude oil and natural gas.
 
Therefore, the solution is either to use reusable bags, sacrificing a part of our personal comfort, either recycling.
 
What can I recycle?
 
Any kind of plastic bag or film, including bubble wrap, cleaned, with no oil stains or other traces of contaminants.
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