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Critique - Article Example

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M. Al-Salem, P. Lettieri, and J. Baeyens that was first published in the journal Waste Management back in July 03, 2009. Their study focused on…
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SOLID WASTE MANAGEMENT (Article Critique for Environmental Studies) ID number: of University (affiliation)
Location of University:
Date of Submission: February 14, 2014
Estimated Word Count = 622 (text only)
Solid Waste Management
The article chosen for this paper is entitled “Recycling and recovery routes of plastic solid waste (PSW): a review” written by S. M. Al-Salem, P. Lettieri, and J. Baeyens that was first published in the journal Waste Management back in July 03, 2009. Their study focused on a growing problem worldwide of plastic solid wastes (PSW) particularly the wastes coming from polyolefinic sources which is the largest group of thermoplastics which are polymers using simple olefins like ethylene, butenes, isoprenes, and propylene. Thermoplastics are alternatively termed as commodity thermoplastics and form the greatest percentage of daily single-life (or single use) cycle of plastic thrown as wastes. In their article, the authors discussed the four major steps or routes in PSW treatment which are the primary (re-extrusion), secondary (mechanical), tertiary (chemical), and quaternary (energy recovery); each option is discussed in detail.
The research problem was to discuss the benefits and drawbacks of each treatment route and assess the viability of each route with regards to the municipal solid waste (MSW) problem. The authors noted how PSW is found in considerable amounts in the final stream of MSW due to a significant number of daily applications such as in coatings, wiring, packaging, films, covers, bags, and containers (Al-Salem, Lettieri, & Baeyens, 2009, p. 2626); the amount of PSW almost doubled from the period between 1990 to 2000, with each individual producing around 250 kgs. of MSW with a 3% annual growth rate. The increasing cost of finding suitable landfills together with increasingly strict regulatory guidelines and higher environmental awareness has compelled many researchers to focus on the issue of recycling as a viable alternative due to increased production, consumption, and waste generation rates of PSW in the last few decades.
The researchers gathered data on both PSW and MSW to highlight the problem of these plastic wastes which are not biodegradable and so viable ways must be found to deal with it. The authors used a good number of credible primary and secondary data sources to support their own arguments concerning the routes now available for PSW treatment. In this regard, a continued development in the recycling and recovery technologies is necessary which requires the cooperation of the whole industry, the government, and the consumers because the solution requires investments in infrastructure and the establishment of viable markets for PSW. In this regard, the authors noted how tertiary and quaternary treatment schemes have not been sufficiently investigated when these two options appear to be robust and offer great potential. An approach to energy recovery by combustion is quite attractive (La Mantia, 2002, p. 349).
There are no apparent flaws in the procedural design of their research because the stated purpose is merely to gather existing data on PSW and the technologies presently available when dealing with this problem. The use of data graphs and diagrams greatly helped in the presentation because a reader gets to grasp much information by just looking at these graphs and diagrams. A good analysis of the data will give the reader a sense of urgency of the problem of PSW as the world runs out of landfills and production of plastic continues on an upward trend still. A good use of diagrams is the illustration showing an integrated waste management (IWM) approach in life cycle assessment (LCA) studies to emphasize the value of sustainable consumption patterns and the potentials of using prevention-by-design in helping reduce PSW at the source. The study authors reiterated how tertiary (chemical) recycling is a viable option because it provides fuel by converting waste plastic materials into smaller molecules suitable for use as new feedstock. The quaternary option (energy recovery) is also good as it reduces waste volume by 95% to 99%.

References
Al-Salem, S. M., Lettieri, P., & Baeyens, J. (2009, July 03). “Recycling and recovery routes of plastic solid waste (PSW): A review.” Waste Management, 29, 2625-2643.
La Mantia, F. (2002). Handbook of plastics recycling. Akron, OH: Smithers Rapra Publishing. Read More
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