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More plastic, please!


There are today many different discussions on how we as a species can start to decrease the amount of carbon dioxide in the air, in an effort to avoid the worst case scenarios regarding the climate change. The best way to do this with known technology in an affordable way is to produce plastics and start to put it in landfills so that the hydrogen and carbon can get back into the ground. Compare to alternative methods we already know how to produce plastic and how to dig holes in the ground, and these are also very cheap technologies. The benefit from putting plastic in the soil is that plastic will not evaporate back into the air and it will stay in the ground for a very long time.


With the Paris agreement mankind have decided to work hard in order to prevent the climate changes we already can witness. To do so we as a species need to step up our commitment, and the best way to do so is to find the cheapest and easiest way to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide in the air. To reach the goals we need to work with two methods at the same time, reduce the amount of the emissions and find good ways to capture some of the carbons in the atmosphere. This paper will focus on the second objective.

The problem

Today we, the humans, have a big problem, climate change driven by an increased level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. And one of the reasons for the increased levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is the burning of oil, which is a fossil fuel mined from the soil. If we can find a way to reverse the process the climate change might be slowed down or even stopped. What we need is a way to collect the atoms from the oil and put them back into the soil, where they can settle.

This contains two challenges, the first is to collect the atoms from the oil and the second is to put them in the soil without escaping back into the air. And the big challenge is to do this with known technologies and affordable. Since the climate change does not have 100 years to wait until someone invents some super-technology in the future and if it is not affordable most countries will not use it.

Solutions today

There are many different solutions suggested to the problem of how to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide in the air. At Wikipedia [Ref 2] they mention some of them. A normal strategy is to pump carbon dioxide from power plants down underground and store the gas there. This solution is good since it fairly straight forward, where one burns the oil one leads the emission down again in the ground. But the problems today are many. The first is that not all places are suitable for this type of carbon capture since the soil needs to have the right condition for the carbon dioxide not to escape again. It also requires an oil plant in order to work, this will not work at a solar panel power plant. Last but not at least this technology is new and very expansive, which also makes it not as competitive.

Plastic is oil

Plastic is almost the same thing as oil, from a chemical point of perspective. Both are different types of hydrocarbons, even thou plastic comes in a higher variation of polymers. The basic atoms are the same, mainly hydrogen and col, with some oxygen in it.

It is true that oil is more a pure hydrocarbon than plastic. The same goes for that plastic contains more pollution in the sense that most plastic contains different types of additives which oil does not contain. But when it comes to the problem which this paper tries to counter, oil and plastic can be considered similar. It can be done since both mainly contain carbon and hydrogen, which is the atoms which we need to get down in the ground again.

Plastic will settle in the soil layer

If one puts a piece of plastic in the ground, it will not decay and it will not evaporate into the air. More or less all plastics which is put down in the soil will stay there. For an example will it take 450 years for a plastic bottle to degrade [Ref 1].

Difference between old and new method

The method proposed in this paper has the benefit compared to other carbon capture technics that it can be done all over the world, there are very few locations which is not suitable for storing plastic underground. The second benefit is that this method can be used regardless of what type of energy production an area has. Maybe the biggest benefit of this method is that it is affordable in most countries and it demands few new innovations.


To stop the climate change in an affordable way with known theologies there is only one way, start to dig down plastics. It is time to restart the use of landfills and put the hydrogen and carbon back into the soil.

As mentioned some type of plastics will decay on very long timescales, and how long a 100-meter cube of plastic in the ground will decay, no one knows for sure, but most likely it will give us, the humans, time to invent better ways to prevent the climate change.


  1. [2018-09-14]

  2. [2018-09-14]

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