Is Landfill or Incineration the Solution for Waste Plastics?

As China closes its doors to recyclables, many countries are left with the problem of how to dispose of recyclable waste, especially plastics. Some countries will end up incinerating more waste to produce energy, which seems like an attractive solution, but is it really?


Burning waste to make energy produces ash, which needs proper disposal or long-term storage. Burning natural gas actually creates fewer emissions, without the issue of ash. An increased reliance on incinerators will also divert funds away from research into alternative resource recovery technologies.


The ‘carbon sink’

Some experts have suggested that waste plastics should be stored in a controlled landfill facility and then removed at a later date when it’s more technically and economically possible to reprocess them.

Climate change and the ‘carbon tax’

Climate change is a huge problem, and fossil fuels in particular have come under fire for the part they have had to play in rising global temperatures. Individuals and corporations have been encouraged to change their ways and reduce their use of fossil fuels. However, the only way this might happen is if a ‘carbon tax’ is placed on the generation of electricity linked to the emissions that are released for every unit of power that is created.

If this happens, people may decide it’s time to make use of the plastics that are stored in the controlled landfill site and to see how viable it is to turn them into new items.

Incineration is being encouraged

The burning of fossil fuels at an unprecedented rate is what is doing the damage to our planet. There’s a heavy tax on landfill, but no tax on what we put into the air. If individuals and companies don’t see the real cost of burning fossil fuels for the environment, an imposed tax might make them see the monetary cost, which might just cause things to change.