After what recently thrown away item I should

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looking in my trashcan and contemplating on what recently thrown away item I should
write about, I chose a plastic water bottle. I decided on this object because I
wanted to learn about how reusable these bottles really are. Through online
research, I was able to identify Polyethylene
Terephthalate(PET) as the substance that is used to make the plastic water bottles.

The chemical makeup of this matter is “(C10H8O4)n”
(Wikipedia Contributors, “Polyethylene terephthalate”), more specifically
identified as a combination of 10 atoms of Carbon, 8 atoms of Hydrogen, and 4
atoms of Oxygen. “Plastics can be divided into two separate categories depending
on their chemical makeup, one made up of polymers having only aliphatic
(linear) carbon atoms in their backbone chains and the other made up
of heterochain polymers” (Rodriguez). The plastic water bottle that we are
breaking down would fall under the heterochain category, “as these compounds contain
atoms such as oxygen, nitrogen, and sulfur in their backbone chains, in addition
to carbon” (Rodriguez). Besides the intricate chemical configuration of the
plastic water bottle, the manufacturing and ultimate fate of it is equally
important. Before the bottle can be created the PET used must be formulated. This
substance “is made from petroleum hydrocarbons” and originates through the “reaction
between terephthalic acid and ethylene glycol” (Clive). This development of PET
is labeled as “polymerization” (Clive). Creating a plastic bottle from PET is a
relatively long, drawn-out process with various different spins on the methods
used. The first part of the transformation is “stretch blow molding”, which
shapes the PET into the “shape of a long, thin tube” (Clive). Forcing this
substance into the molding is defined as “injection molding” and results in the
creation of a “parison” (Clive). The object then gets introduced into a “second,
bottle-shaped mold” (Clive). Once inside this mold, it is exposed to “highly
pressurized air” through the introduction of “a thin steel rod, which is called
a mandrel” (Clive). To keep a relatively flat bottom on the bottle another
piece “of plastic is simultaneously joined to the bottle during blow molding” (Clive).

Lastly, the mold needs to be cooled down by either an indirect or direct method
to ensure that the plastic takes the right shape. After all of this is
accomplished and any blemishes or “excess plastic” (Clive) is removed, the product
is finished. Once the bottle has been emptied from the recycling bin by Waste
Management the recycling process begins. These plastics are labeled “with the
resin identification number 1” and are recycled down to make different “lower
grade products” (Wikipedia Contributors, “PET bottle recycling”). This outcome
is made possible through sterilizing the plastic in order to remove the “molecules
of food and beverage contained” (Wikipedia Contributors, “PET bottle recycling”).

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These products could vary from “carpet fibre, tote bags, and straps”
(Rodriguez). If these bottles are not recycled they would end up alongside the
other trash in the landfills. These objects would then be forced to decompose
in nature which results in numerous consequences. Since plastics take a
considerably long time to decompose, the chance of the material producing off
toxic chemicals and finding its way into the ocean is very likely. This is why
it is important to properly recycle our used water bottles and keep them out of
our nation’s landfills. 

Categories: Management


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