Since then, “skip the straw, save a turtle” has become a slogan for people determined to decrease their plastics use. If this reliance on plastics persists, plastics will account for 20% of oil consumption by 2050.

Natural gas and oil can be extracted from the earth through fracking. Recycling could be an important bridge on the way to waste reduction, but Arkin said the Western world needs to address its plastics addiction at the source. Even if plastics go to a landfill, some are light enough to blow in the wind and enter waterways. Incinerator workers and people living near facilities are particularly at risk to exposures. For non-renewable materials the savings are of such a magnitude, that apparently the only really crucial factor is what material is replaced. Assuming just a third of the impacted land is forested, 1.686 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide are released into the atmosphere as a result of clearing, authors of the CIEL report said. Landfilling has a much lower climate impact than incineration. Recycling of waste materials has been analysed from a life cycle perspective in a number of studies over the past 10–15 years. So producing more microplastics could degrade plankton’s ability to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. “Plastic pollution is not just an oceans issue. In addition, waste prevention and recycling paper products allows more trees to remain standing, where they can continue to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. “Incineration is a massive environmental injustice – not just in the United States, but all over the world,” Arkin said. But though they offer numerous benefits, plastics originate as fossil fuels and emit greenhouse gases from cradle to grave, according to a May 2019 report called “Plastic & Climate: The Hidden Costs of a Plastic Planet,” released by the Center for International Environmental Law, a nonprofit environmental law organization. Recycling revisited—life cycle comparisons of global warming impact and total energy use of waste management strategies. Companies drill wells into the ground until they hit a rock layer, then they turn 90 degrees and drill horizontally. “You have to clear cut. These microplastics scatter across the globe, even to the depths of the ocean. For all question sets: without written answer lines with written answer lines Print × Close. Land disturbance also contributes to greenhouse gas emissions associated with extraction. So you’re taking all of the carbon from the trees and from soils and removing that from the earth basically and introducing it to the atmosphere.”.