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HOME > PAST ISSUE > July-August 1998 > Article Detail

FEATURE ARTICLE

Is Combustion of Plastics Desirable?

Plastic waste may provide a reliable and clean source of energy. It may not make sense to bury it

Bruce Piasecki, David Rainey, Kevin Fletcher

Figure 7. Crane transports bulk wasteClick to Enlarge Image

Plastic waste is mounting, mostly in landfills, and our authors review current disposal strategies, which also include recycling and burning. Plastics, they note, can be a clean and potent source of energy when burned. The authors review the trade-offs involved in waste-to-energy combustion and argue that as pollution controls improve, the release of toxic emissions—primarily dioxins and heavy metals—can be minimized. They conclude that the risks are not as great as the public assumes and end by advocating an increase in waste-to-energy programs.


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