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Degradable Hydrocarbon Polymers In Waste And Litter Control

G. Scott, D. Wiles
Published 2002 · Materials Science

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Wastes are by-products of nature’s productive activities including human activity. Most naturally occurring wastes are not normally perceived to cause environmental problems; for example, even when natural polymers become durable litter, as in the case of trees, branches etc., they are eventually incorporated into the biological carbon cycle [1]. By contrast the by-products of human activity are not seen in this way although they rarely remain in the outdoor environment as long as fallen trees [2]. Firstly, synthetic polymers look different from nature’s wastes and many man-made products, particularly those manufactured from non-renewable resources are not considered to be bioassimilable into the natural cycle. The latter view, which is popular among environmentalists, is in fact a misunderstanding since there are very few man-made carbon-based polymers that are not ultimately bioassimilated and those that are not degraded are so stable that they cause no environmental hazard. The second problem with man-made wastes is that they are produced mainly in cities and towns where acceptable disposal becomes a logistical challenge.
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