Crude oil (from which plastics are derived) mining and fracking are energy and resource-intensive as well as heavily polluting.
Pre-production plastic in the form of small pellets escape into natural systems and the watershed at every stage of their lifecycle, polluting the food chain and adversely affecting people, the soil, and the ocean.
Only a small amount of plastics find their way into a recycling bin or the landfill at the end of their life. In 2010 alone, an estimated 4.8 to 12.7 million metric tons of
plastic waste was released into the ocean by 192 coastal countries
Microplastics adversely impact the health of wildlife, especially in the case of sea-life that mistake smaller plastic pieces for food. The plastics can cause inflammation and organ blockages.
BPA, an additive in plastic, is a known hormone disruptor; additionally, the rate of leaching can increase when heating food in plastic.
For more information on plastic impacts in Maryland, please click here for the Maryland Department of Natural Resources’ Fact Sheet.
Single-Use Paper Products:
● Paper manufacturing is resource intensive, polluting and tied to deforestation.
Plastics overly contaminated with food or drink are not recycled or are more expensive to recycle. If there is too much contamination in a load of recyclables, the entire load might be sent to the landfill.
Paper products contaminated with oil, e.g., a grease-soaked pizza box, are not recyclable. The oil cannot be separated from the paper fibers, reducing the value of the recycled material.
Plastic utensils (usually made from plastic #6) are not cost-effective to recycle.
Plastic straws disrupt machinery and delay recycling processes.
#3-#7 Plastics: China has stopped accepting 40 types of imported waste, including recyclable materials such as plastics to prevent local environmental pollution. For the U.S., this means that many recycling collection sites have stopped accepting plastics #3-#7 because they are too expensive to recycle.
Mixed Materials: It is costly to separate the materials. e.g., plastic lining on a paper cup.
Expanded polystyrene foam food service ware is not recyclable and when incinerated, produces styrene gas, a neurotoxin. To mitigate environmental and health impacts of these products, many cities and states have banned these products. Maryland’s expanded polystyrene ban prohibits the use of expanded polystyrene food packaging beginning July 1, 2020.
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