The plastic packaging advantages are not limited to practicability issues; there is also an environmental factor to consider.
Even though it is thought that plastic contributes to the exhaust of oil reserves, only a small percentage (4%) of consumed oil is destined to plastic material production.
It is also thought that plastic, after being used is wasted, becoming useless and hard to compose. However, through recycling procedures plastic life cycle has been significantly enlarged. Besides, plastic material is, by itself, a valuable thermal energy source and a first-rate fuel for electric energy production.
Recycling can be done through various procedures:
• Chemical recycling: reprocessing of plastic and transformation in basic petrochemicals that can be used as raw material in refineries and petrochemical stations.
• Mechanical recycling: plastic waste conversion in small particles, which can be reused in the manufacture of other products with less demanding specifications.
• Energetic recycling: recovery of energy, present in the material, through thermal procedures. The energy present in 1 kg of plastic equals 1 kg of fuel oil. Besides the energetic usage, there is a 70 to 90 % reduction of the material mass.