According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the average American generates 4.51 pounds of waste per day. Plastics are a rapidly growing segment of municipal solid waste (MSW). Plastic is everywhere. It is estimated that some 300 million tons of plastic are produced each year. About ten percent of that is recycled. The other 90 percent settles in and on our environment - land and sea. In this project, students will be asked to actually measure the amount of waste that they generate in a week's time (identifying single-use plastic or not) and devise creative ways in which the can reduce, reuse and/or recycle to take an active role in their environment. Objectives: Students will be able to: • Execute an analysis of the amount of waste that they generate and/or are exposed to on a daily basis. • Identify the seven types and classification codes of plastic and their effect of the environment. • Study environmental issues that directly impact their community and the global community. • Formulate ideas and solutions for reducing the amount of plastic in their daily lives. Background: Americans discard approximately 33.6 million tons of plastic per year, but only 6.5 percent of it is recycled and 7.7 percent is combusted in waste-to-energy facilities, which create electricity or heat from garbage (https://blogs.ei.columbia.edu/2012/01/31/what-happens-to-all-that-plastic/). Eight million metric tons of plastic ends up in our oceans. According to researchers at the University of Georgia and the National Center for Ecological Analysis at the University of California, Santa Barbara, the output into our oceans will be around 155 million metric tons by 2025.
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