When plastics are recycled, overall systemic emissions are reduced in three ways. Firstly, emissions are reduced as the need for new virgin crude oil origin plastics is reduced. Recycling reduces the need to explore and drill for new oil, transport it and refine it, to produce raw material for new plastics.
Secondly, recycling reduces the amount of plastics ending up in incineration. The incineration of plastics causes 2,7-3,1 kg carbon dioxide emissions per every kilogram of plastics that is burnt, whether the energy is captured as heat and/or electrical power or not.
Thirdly, when plastics are recycled, they do not end up on landfills. One could imagine that landfilled plastics are inert, but they actually cause layers within the landfill, where biomass, organic waste and food waste gets trapped and gradually rots, causing methane to be emitted. Methane is over 20 times more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide and therefore avoiding it is essential.
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