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Recycling Paper and Plastics

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Recycling Paper and Plastics - Lesson Summary

Waste management
Waste management includes collection of wastes, segregation of wastes, recycling of wastes and treatment of wastes for disposal.

Management of non-biodegradable wastes
As non-biodegradable wastes cannot be decompose by bacteria, these wastes can be managed by following 3R principle – Reduce, Reuse and Recycle.

Reduce: We have to reduce the amount of waste generation by lessening the use of disposable items.
  • Ball point pens should be replaced by fountain pens, old news papers should be used instead of plastic bags.
  • Waste can also be reduced by consuming the necessary amount leaving out less waste.

Reuse: Many items can be reused for other purposes. Small bottles can be cleaned and used to sore food items in the kitchen.
  • Soft drink bottles can be reused by refilling the same.
  • Used clothes can be donated to poor and needy instead of throwing them.
  • Electronics can be donated to others.

Recycle: It is the essential method to minimise the waste. It also helps in using resources in best way.
  • It is important to reuse things than discarding them as waste.
  • Materials like glass pieces, metals, plastics, paper etc. can be recycled to make new ones.

a) Recycling of plastic: Plastic items should be recycled to reduce the pollution they cause in the environment. Plastics which can be recycled are called as recyclable plastics.
Harmful effects of plastics
Though plastic is easy and comfortable to use, it is very harmful in terms of health and environment.
  • Polythene bags are one kind of plastics which are non-biodegradable and cause environmental pollution.
  • Plastics undergo a process known as photo degradation, in which they break down into smaller and smaller toxic particles.
  • These particles contaminate soil and water and enter the food chain when eaten accidentally by animals like cows.
  • Polythene bags are very dangerous that they can cause the death of the cattle.
  • Plastic materials discarded into aquatic resources cause death of huge number of aquatic organisms.
  • Plastics in the form of polythene bags are also responsible for the clogging of drainage systems in cities and towns. 
  • Plastics take several years to decompose. Plastic is used in various forms in our daily life.
  • Plastics are not suitable for storing cooked food as they emit harmful chemicals when they are exposed to high temperatures. Using plastics causes health problems.
  • Burning of plastics emits harmful gases which cause cancer in living beings. Hence, plastics should be disposed in the right way.
  • Plastics that do not contain the chemical, BPA, are usually licensed for storing food items. Plastics thrown casually get into drains and sewage often blocking the way and cause water-logging.

Measures to reduce dangerous effects of plastics
  • Reduce, reuse and recycle plastics.
  • Carry jute or cloth bags for shopping.
  • Do not store food items in plastic bags.
  • Do not burn plastic items.
  • Recycle plastics so that new plastic items can be made.

b) Recycling of paper:  Paper is recycled in industries to regenerate new paper. Paper that is suitable for recycling is called scrap paper.
  • You can recycle old newspapers, magazines, notebooks and used envelopes.
  • Waxed papers, oil-soaked papers, paper contaminated with food, carbon paper, thermal fax paper, plastic laminated paper, stickers cannot be recycled.

Steps involved in recycling paper
  • Paper is torn into small pieces.
  • Soak these pieces in water for a day.
  • Make a thick paste and spread it on a net or sieve.
  • Let water drain off completely.
  • Use an old cloth or newspaper to remove the extra water from the paste and dry it.
  • Use this paste to get beautiful patterns.


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