A imundície nos resíduos plásticos

NEWARK, NJ – Os plásticos estão em todo o lado. Quer sejam utilizados para guardarem sobras, manterem o equipamento hospitalar esterilizado ou para isolarem uma casa, não há nada que se compare aos plásticos devido à sua adaptabilidade, durabilidade e baixo custo. Dados os seus benefícios aparentemente ilimitados, não é surpresa para ninguém que os plásticos tenham substituído os materiais tradicionais em muitos sectores - por exemplo, o aço nos automóveis, o papel e o vidro nas embalagens e a madeira nos móveis. Como resultado, o consumo anual de plásticos em todo o mundo passou de cinco milhões de toneladas, na década de 1950, para cerca de 280 milhões de toneladas nos dias de hoje.

Cerca de metade dos produtos em plástico, tal como as embalagens, destinam-se a um único uso com períodos de validade curtos (inferiores a seis meses) antes de serem eliminados. Dado que a maioria destes itens não é biodegradável, e não é reciclada, os resíduos plásticos estão a aumentar - com graves consequências ambientais. Embora os governos tenham começado a implementar novos (e muitas vezes bastante rigorosos) regulamentos que visam a gestão dos resíduos plásticos - por exemplo, a China proibiu os sacos leves de compras de plástico em 2008 - eles são inadequados para se fazer face ao crescente problema mundial dos resíduos plásticos.

Além disso, a maioria dos produtos em plástico é feita a partir das chamadas “matérias-primas termoplásticas derivadas do petróleo”. Tendo em conta que um recurso não renovável constitui a base de muitos produtos plásticos - muitos dos quais não irão durar muito - os actuais padrões de utilização de plásticos não são sustentáveis.

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