What is Plastic Waste Management?

Malcolm Tatum

Plastic waste management is a collective term for various approaches and strategies used to recycle plastic materials that would otherwise be dumped into landfills, or bodies of water, or otherwise contaminate the environment. The idea behind this type of waste management is to utilize those discarded materials to manufacture new plastic products without the need to actually generate additional plastic materials. Doing so can help lower production costs as well as protect the environment.

Glass and plastic are recyclable materials.
Glass and plastic are recyclable materials.

Many different types of industries participate in some type of plastic waste management process. Some are specifically geared toward collecting plastic items for recycling. For example, many supermarkets encourage customers to contribute unwanted plastic bags into a recycling container located near the front of the store. The collected bags are then forwarded to recycling centers where the material is processed for use in the production of new products made from the recycled plastic.

Plastic waste management programs attempt to avoid having reusable plastic products end up in the trash.
Plastic waste management programs attempt to avoid having reusable plastic products end up in the trash.

Businesses that produce plastic products also engage in the task of plastic waste management. This often focuses on finding ways to recycle or reuse excess plastic that is discarded as units of different goods are produced. These plastic remnants can often be collected and ran through an internal recycling process to create additional products for sale. Not only does this approach prevent the disposal of the used materials into a landfill, it also allows the company to lower the actual cost associated with manufacturing each unit of its product line.

In some cases, businesses outsource the process of plastic waste management. Contracting with a waste management company makes it possible for unwanted plastic items to be collected and removed from the premises without expending additional company resources. Municipalities sometimes work with a waste management disposal company in creating plastic recycling programs that allow households to conveniently dispose of plastic milk jugs, broken plastic toys, and other plastic items without placing them into the trash. Depending on the nature of the arrangement with the plastic waste management company, the municipality may actually earn a small amount from the arrangement, creating another stream of revenue for the city or town that can be used to fund services offered to residents.

Any type of plastic waste management must be conducted in compliance with regulations set by local, state, and federal governments. This includes using recycling methods that are considered to be environmentally friendly, and that are not likely to create health risks for individuals living and working in the community. Since regulations regarding recycling vary somewhat from one jurisdiction to another, it is important to determine what is and is not allowed before establishing any type of ongoing program to deal with plastic waste.

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