Plastic Bottles and Down Cycling
Plastics have become a big part of our lives today. We use plastic in just about everything from computers and entertainment, to containers and cars. We have become very plastic dependent in the last 60 years or so. Plastics are less breakable than glass, last longer, cheaper to make, and so much more. One of the first plastic products that come to mind is the plastic water bottle. Every grocery store and gas station across our nation has on its shelves, multiple water bottle options. They are cold, refreshing,-- and quite snazzy in design. They have great depicitons of waterfalls and untouched landscapes, clever brand names, and the convience of not haveing to do much to obtain. It all sounds great untill you start thinking in a more holistic way. Ever think about where the bottles go when you throw them away or recycle them? How about what goes into making water bottles- the energy and resources?
How are plastic watter bottles made?
The technological road from oil field to finished plastic product has numerous fascinating side trips. Here’s the route taken in the petroleum-to-plastics process:
1. Petroleum is drilled and transported to a refinery.
2. Crude oil and natural gas are refined into ethane, propane, hundreds of other petrochemical products and, of course, fuel for your car.
3. Ethane and propane are "cracked" into ethylene and propylene, using high-temperature furnaces.
4. Catalyst is combined with ethylene or propylene in a reactor, resulting in "fluff," a powdered material (polymer) resembling laundry detergent.
5. Fluff is combined with additives in a continuous blender.
6. Polymer is fed to an extruder where it is melted.
7. Melted plastic is cooled then fed to a pelletizer that cuts the product into small pellets.
8. Pellets are shipped to customers.
9. Customers manufacture plastic products by using processes such as extrusion, injection molding, blow molding, etchttp://www.reachoutmichigan.org/funexperiments/quick/plastic.html
Once the manufacuturer prepares the bottles and fills them, they are shipped off to convience stores all over the world and sold to the public.
Where does my water bottle go when I'm "done" with it?
Americans used 50 billion water bottles in 2006 and sent 38 billion water bottles to landfills, the equivalent of 912 million gallons of oil.http://www.filterforgood.com/learn_the_facts.php#