Is burning plastic waste a good idea?

Is burning plastic waste a good idea?
Fonte: National Geographic
Many within the trash industry think so. But incineration and other “waste-to-energy” projects may pose dangers to the environment.
WHAT IS TO be done with the swelling flood of plastic waste, if we don’t want to see it snagged in tree branches, floating in ocean gyres, or clogging the stomachs of seabirds and whales?

Plastic production is expected to double in the next 20 years, according to a report issued by the World Economic Forum. Plastic recycling rates, meanwhile, hover around 30 percent in Europe, just nine percent in the U.S., and zero or close to it in much of the developing world.

This past January, a consortium of petrochemical and consumer-goods companies called the Alliance to End Plastic Waste, including Exxon, Dow, Total, Shell, Chevron Phillips, and Procter & Gamble, committed to spending $1.5 billion over five years on the problem. Their aim is to support alternative materials and delivery systems, beef up recycling programs, and—more controversially—promote technologies that convert plastics to fuel or energy.

Sophisticated incinerators that burn plastic and other municipal waste can produce enough heat and steam to turn turbine blades and generate electricity for the local grid. The European Union, which restricts the landfilling of organic waste, already burns almost 42 percent of its waste; the U.S. burns 12.5 percent. According to the World Energy Council, a U.N. accredited network that represents a range of energy sources and technologies, the waste-to-energy sector is likely to witness steady growth in coming years, especially in the Asia Pacific region. China already has some 300 waste-to-energy plants operating, with another several hundred in the pipeline.
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