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IAT336_Week 11 Appendix.docx

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Simon Fraser University
Interactive Arts & Tech
IAT 336
Ken Zupan

Recycling Preserving Plastics Plastics are among the most versatile and useful of all materials known to man Yet like other design materials at the end of their life cycle or use, plastics create ethical issues Ethical Issues Raw Materials are not unlimited In recent years, it has become more clear that the world’s raw materials are limited. This is especially evident of petrochemicals or oil Almost 7% of a barrel of oil is dedicated to creating raw material for plastic production E.g. Benzene is used for creating polystyrene; Ethylene is used for producing polyethylene -plastics are also made from naptha and natural gas Cost of Raw Material This problem will surely become even more pressing for raw materials in the future because population growth is making ever growing demands Petrochemical raw materials are become more scarce as recent oil crises have demonstrated, prices will rise in the long term E.g. a barrel of oil could reach $200 whereas a barrel of crude oil is presently hovering around $106 USD (July 15, 2013) As the price of oil increases, so does the price of producing plastic resin for manufacturers Plastic Waste in Landfills Domestic refuse contains 7% by weight of plastics For every 15 million tons of household refuse it contains about 1 million tons of plastic -if one assumes about 5 million tons of equivalent trade waste, a total of 20 million tons of waste is involved -to transport 20 million tons, 2 million trucks would be required each with a capacity of 20 million cubic meters Solutions/Possibilities The Rebirth of Plastics Recycling With the ethical issues, it is obvious that plastics should be given a second life Plastics as an Energy Source Why not reclaim energy from burning plastics? This leads to the question of refuse disposal. Firstly, there is the refuse incinerator Today, energy is recovered from 43 incinerator plants in Germany which is the lead in Europe in this respect. In the UK alone 6% of refuse is processed for the reclamation of energy This energy is used for steam heating and electricity generation Pros Calorific value (energy value of various materials Cons Irretrievable Material -everything burnt in a waste disposal incinerator can provide heat energy but is irretrievably lost as a raw material however, there are sometimes circumstances in which recovery is not economically viable because more energy is needed to sort and use the waste than is necessary in the manufacture of virgin material -there has been a lot of public attention focused on the dangers of producing acid gases when waste is incinerated and particularly upon hydrochloric acid (HCl) from the incineration of PVC packaging -HCl gas is a major foe of the ozone layer -investigations have shown that 46% of the hydrochloric acid from incinerator stacks comes from PVC. The remaining 54% comes from other components of waste such as road sweepings, garden waste, kitchen waste, etc. Pollution vs. Waste Disposal -naturally, the recycling process must not provide more pollution than waste disposal and more importantly they must be a market for the recovered materials Break Down Plastics for Reuse While the plastics industry searches for solutions to the problem of plastics waste, there is surprisingly a growing band of people trying to save plastics -the classic nightmare that we will end up beneath a tide of plastic bottles and packaging is evaporating as plastics reveal that they are not everlasting materials that we thought they were Plastics Not as Long Lasting as Once Thought NASA’s pioneering space exploration legacy is starting to fall apart and plastics are partly to blame -the space suits worn by astronauts are being damaged by their PVC cooling pipes are leaching acidic plasticizer which leaves a brick red stain Similar to the experience of NASA’s space suit degradation, it was discovered that up to 40% of British museums surveyed containing plastic objects manufactured and collected since 1980 and modern plastics are showing symptoms of decay -polyurethane foam appears to be one of the worst victims and many early video and audio tapes on magnetic media are already unplayable Some of the artifacts in the collections, specifically (cellulose nitrate) have been around for 130 years are organic and have been described as a time bomb ticking away -it can of course be argued that manufacturers’ foremost intentions have never been to make beautiful objects for museums -ironically, it has been museums that have been vocal about this issue of plastic degradation Factors Affecting Polymer Degradation The degradation of plastics can be said to been as soon as the polymer is synthesized and is increased by residual stresses left be molding processes This can be followed by exposure to light (especially UV), humidity, oxygen, heat, bacteria, and stress. Plastics can also be contaminated by other materials including other plastics E.g. A polystyrene camera body can be attacked by plasticizer migrating from a PVC strap Types of Polymer Degradation Physical degradation can involve environmental stress cracking and plasticizer migration and loss Chemical reactions include oxidation and hydrolysis and is a problem particularly affecting the cellulose esters (cellulose nitrate and cellulose acetate) wh
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