General Question

Lightlyseared's avatar

Should we start mining old landfill sites for plastics and other recyclable material?

Asked by Lightlyseared (31284points) August 16th, 2008
Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

12 Answers

speechie4eva's avatar

I don’t see why not! I think it could be worth it. Then we wouldnt have to cut down as many trees to get new stuff. All the stuff at the dump is just going to sit there anyways.

Harp's avatar

No need to go excavating the landfills. Americans currently recycle only 5 percent of all plastic that enters the use stream. We just need to do a better job of catching it before it gets to the dump.

Plastics recycling is just barely economically worthwhile as it is. Until very recently, it was cheaper to make products from virgin resin than from recycled resin. So if you add in the cost of recovering plastics from landfills, identifying the kind of plastic, and cleaning them up enough for recycling, manufacturers would pay far more to use “dump” plastic than virgin plastic. Tough sale.

waterbearer's avatar

That could be dangerous. A lot of old landfills have been closed in accordance with the regulations of their state. If done properly, they are capped, secured and monitored. Opening them up and digging around could result in dispersion of hazardous materials and (more) pollution to the surrounding area.

marinelife's avatar

Who knows what we might let loose. Not yet anyway.

lifeflame's avatar

I’ve had a similar thought…
I wasn’t thinking of plastic though, I was thinking more of aluminum and metals….

melohhh's avatar

absolutely yes.

jpark's avatar

I know! Let’s just get plastic from the North Pacific trash vortex, which is now twice the size of Texas.

Kraigmo's avatar

Most plastic in landfills is electronic equipment (which is dangerous to rummage thru) or Milk & water jugs (which dissolve into fine particles when exposed to sunlight). So my inclination is that It might not be a good idea.

But if my opinion conflicts with any scientist or engineer or environmental expert, then i change my mind immediately.

bootonthroat's avatar

@Lightlyseared No. It is not economical. Therefore, it shouldn’t be done. There is still a lot of oil to bring up.

PandoraBoxx's avatar

There’s a level of complexity to recycling plastics that has to be addressed.

However, MIT and Stanford researchers have developed a way to chemically recycle plastics that could transform how plastics are recycled.

@jpark, In addition to the Pacific there’s also a second trash vortex in the Atlantic off of Bermuda that’s 1000 miles long. One of the residual problems with the plastic waste floating in the ocean is that particles of food will attach to the plastics that become contaminated by the toxins in the plastic. The fish eat the contaminated particles, and we in turn eat toxic fish.

Lightlyseared's avatar

@bootonthroat or at least there was till BP spilled it all over the Gulf of Mexico.

kritiper's avatar

Not yet and maybe never. We could mine the 5 gyres of the oceans for plastic and could do so for a very long time. In the Great Garbage Patch of the North Pacific alone there is claimed to be roughly 3.5 million tons.

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