Is burning plastic waste a good idea? No. TreeHugger has long been a fan of Elizabeth Royte, author of Bottlemania and Garbage Land: On the secret trail of trash. She knows her stuff when it comes to single-use plastic. As part of a National Geographic series on Planet or Plastic, she looks at the question: Is burning plastic waste a good idea? She notes that the Europeans think so, and consider it a renewable resource: It considers energy generated from burning any kind of carbon-based municipal waste renewable and thus eligible for subsidies. But plastics aren’t renewable in the sense that wood, paper, or cotton are. Plastics don’t grow from sunlight: We make them from fossil fuels extracted from the ground, and each step in that process has the potential to pollute.