Multi layered plastics are the plastics that contains at the minimum one layer of plastic as main ingredient along with the one or more layers of other materials like paper, aluminium, copper etc. It has several thin sheets or layers that laminated together and are difficult to separate.
For detailed information on plastic pollution, read: What is Plastic Pollution? – Sources, Effects and Solutions.
Multi layer plastics (MLP) are commonly used for the packaging purposes. Multi layer plastic wastes have a huge contribution in plastic pollution and have negative impact on environment. The MLP is used commonly for the food packaging as it protects the food and gives longer shelf life. The multi layer plastic (MPL) is a single use plastic. The material of construction of multi layered plastic packaging ranges from paper to plastics to metals. Most multi layered plastics are not readily recyclable. MLP have multi layered composition which is made from thermoset or thermoplastic materials.
MLP poses several challenges, as it is single use plastic, and have high quantity because every household contributes in it. Non-recyclable multi layer plastics (MLP) are those that cannot be recycled and remain in the environment causing serious plastic pollution. Non-recyclable multi layer plastics contain layers of such materials that are good for the packaging but they cannot be recycled.
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SOURCES AND USES OF MLP:
The non-recyclable multi layer plastics (MLP) that contains different materials or multiple polymers are difficult to separate into discrete layers that can be effectively recycles. There are different sources of non-recyclable MLP some of them are listed below:
- The non-recyclable multi layer plastics are used in pharmaceutical and cosmetics products.
- They are found in electrical and electronic goods.
- The MLP used in different items for storage of foods and serving that are used single time and disposed after use that accumulate in the environment.
- The non-recyclable multi layer plastics (MLP) are also found to be used in e-commerce packaging materials.
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EFFECTS OF USING MLP:
The non-recyclable multi layer plastics (MLP) have various effects on environment. Some of the effects are listed below:
- The non-recyclable multi layer plastics are often used in food packaging which is a single use plastic thrown after the use and accumulated in huge quantity due to lack of proper collection system. This is the cause of pollution.
- The non-recyclable multi layer plastics collected from household are often contaminated, have high moisture content and are mixed with organic waste, which causes negative impacts.
- Due to the reason that MLP are non-recyclable are often disposed by incineration or dumped in landfills and incineration releases dioxins and one-fourth of incinerated trash remains toxic fly ash which ends up in landfills.
- In landfills, during the process of breakdown it may release certain chemicals which can contaminate the food chains and groundwater.
- Leaching of the toxic chemicals used in packaging materials may cause toxicity
ALTERNATIVES TO MLP:
The blanket ban of non-recyclable multi layer plastics (MLP) would be too disruptive for the industry as well as economy. The alternatives are as follows:
- Producers and manufacturing companies should ensure the 100 % use of recyclable plastic in the packaging materials and should also increase the proportion of plastics in them.
- Waste segregation practices should be followed.
- Awareness regarding the MLP and the producers/importers should develop system to collect back the non-recyclable MLP and safely dispose them.
- Instead of the processes like incinerating or dumping in landfills other alternative processes should be used such as using in cement kilns or using in waste to fuel plants etc.
- Repurposing systems should be developed that leaves no holes for the plastic to escape into the environment and cause continuation.
The plastic pollution is one of the major problems around the world and is increasing day by day due its unchecked usage and accumulation in the environment. The plastic has different types through which it enters the environment. The non-recyclable multi layer plastic (MLP) is one the types of plastic consisting of multi layered structure. It has many sources and negative impacts. The alternatives should be used to control the challenges posed by non-recyclable multi layer plastics (MLP).
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