Surprising effects of sunlight on plastic waste

Plastic is a phenomenon created by humans and so is plastic waste. It is a carefully designed chemical bond that is extremely strong compared to any natural chemical bond. It is derived from the heavy processing of petroleum and it is nearly indestructible, in terms of its molecular structure.

We all are witness to how plastic has made our lives easier. Even though plastic is one of the most useful inventions of its time, it has now polluting our planet. Every plastic item we have ever used still exists on the planet, either in its original form in hills, landfills, oceans, or a recycled form being reused.

It has been a century since the discovery of plastics, and yet scientists themselves cannot predict how long the plastic compound can last. Statistical data suggests that it can take hundreds of years for plastic to break down.

Now it is time to address the big question, how long does it take for plastic to break down? As per the calculations made to date, it is a large bandwidth of 20 to 500 years that is required for plastic to decompose. It also heavily depends on the type of plastic and its composition.

Plastic waste is building up on the planet because of its indefinite period of decomposing.

According to a recent study, a new kind of environmentally degradable plastic could help change that: It breaks down in sunlight and air. The rate of decomposing of plastic depends on its exposure to sunlight as it absorbs UV radiation from the sun and it breaks into smaller molecules. Scientifically, this process is called photodegradation.

The red plastic film breaks apart in sunlight and air over 7 days. Here, each vial represents a day from 0 to 7, left to right. Source : PNAS Journal

Although sun-sensitive plastic might not be the first choice for bottles or bags that need to last more than a week on shelves, integrating the environmentally degradable polymer as a minor ingredient, or with other biodegradable polymers, could help speed the breakdown of these materials in landfills.

Hence it can be said that it is more beneficial to keep the plastic waste on land rather than dumping it in the oceans. This will speed up the decomposing to a certain degree and also help in keeping a track of the plastic waste that is generated.

It is now mandatory to take responsibility for your plastic waste irrespective of you being a company or an individual.

Are you looking for effective ways to take control over your plastic waste and have full traceability of where your plastic waste goes?

We have experts at Recykal who will guide you in this process and assist you in becoming a responsible manufacturer and consumer.

Get in touch with us today!

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