Killing our planet with plastics

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
85,058
South Puget Sound, WA
I think the plastic bottle blitz started more like in 1984 or so when they first perfected a cheap clear plastic bottle mainly for pop (or soda if that’s what you call it). I worked at a Brockway Glass Co. bottle plant at the time and we knew it wasn’t good for the strugglimg glass bottle industry at the time and it wasn’t a year later and our plant was shut down and 500 of us high paid workers were on the street looking for work in a depressed economy.
You're probably right from a US perspective. It started here and became a global phenomenon by the early 1990s.
 

RandyBoBandy

Minister of Fire
Feb 25, 2015
1,099
Whitmore lake, MI
Here is one interesting solution coming from the UK. They take plastics from recycling (including bags), pelletize them and blend them into asphalt for roads. The roads made from this product are supposed to be less expensive, tougher and more resistant to potholing. The claim is this product will outlast regular asphalt roads by 60%.
http://www.macrebur.com/
I know this is a few years old but I just stumbled onto this thread. What about the breakdown of these roads? The micro plastics being washed into the gutter by rain and then off to wherever they drain the roads to. Water treatment plants, ponds, lakes, ocean??
 

jatoxico

Minister of Fire
Aug 8, 2011
4,219
Long Island NY
My grandma used to wash and re-use them, 35 - 40 years ago. We used to tease her for being so frugal, but she was just ahead of her time!
Around my house, all things that can reasonably be used more than once, are. In comparison to my neighbors we throw out very little. So while I'm pleased that we could easily live with one garbage pick up a week (maybe less) its still a drop in the bucket and lots of plastic and paper that probably should never have existed in the first place ends up in my trash.

My understanding is that many countries have adopted the position that if you made it, your responsible for it. But the user has to be willing to properly return it and the manufacturer has to accept it. That adds cost and worse yet, inconvenience. On the whole we hate that.
 
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begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
85,058
South Puget Sound, WA
But the user has to be willing to properly return it and the manufacturer has to accept it. That adds cost and worse yet, inconvenience. On the whole we hate that.
In urban areas a nudge may be a necessity. One solution is to raise the price of landfilled trash, while making recycling cheap or free. Seattle goes further and also collects organics separately. There is a fine for dumping organics in with the garbage.

Making it easier helps. Laws, education and some social engineering also work. In Germany , they take recycling quite seriously. Landfills are few and costly. Still, people are still people and some people will still litter or dump everything in the garbage can.
 
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Ashful

Minister of Fire
Mar 7, 2012
15,715
Philadelphia
In urban areas a nudge may be a necessity. One solution is to raise the price of landfilled trash, while making recycling cheap or free. Seattle goes further and also collects organics separately. There is a fine for dumping organics in with the garbage.

Making it easier helps. Laws, education and some social engineering also work. In Germany , they take recycling quite seriously. Landfills are few and costly. Still, people are still people and some people will still litter or dump everything in the garbage can.
I was living and working in Germany part time in the 1990’s, as a this was becoming an issue, and remember the havoc and debate caused by the laws they were just passing at that time forcing manufacturers to be able to take back, disassemble, and recycle most of the product they manufactured. I’ve only been back once in the last few years, and it seems like they’re making it work, after some pains growing into their current system.

On a related note, I had the family of one of my German former coworkers stay with us a bit this summer. He is used to living around and dealing with Americans, but I think his wife and child had to adjust to how many Americans view things like waste, fuel mileage, and travel. Of course, I’m not the most progressive example for them to view, they’d have probably done better to stay with you, begreen!
 

SpaceBus

Minister of Fire
Nov 18, 2018
4,768
Downeast Maine
I was living and working in Germany part time in the 1990’s, as a this was becoming an issue, and remember the havoc and debate caused by the laws they were just passing at that time forcing manufacturers to be able to take back, disassemble, and recycle most of the product they manufactured. I’ve only been back once in the last few years, and it seems like they’re making it work, after some pains growing into their current system.

On a related note, I had the family of one of my German former coworkers stay with us a bit this summer. He is used to living around and dealing with Americans, but I think his wife and child had to adjust to how many Americans view things like waste, fuel mileage, and travel. Of course, I’m not the most progressive example for them to view, they’d have probably done better to stay with you, begreen!
I was in Bavaria for five weeks back in spring 2012 and the glass bottle return system was seamless. You pay a deposit up front for the glass bottles and get it back when you return the bottles, which you will if you like beer and shop at the same place every week.
 

jatoxico

Minister of Fire
Aug 8, 2011
4,219
Long Island NY
A friend just visited Germany and a lot of unnecessary packaging is left at the point of purchase. So it never goes home and is right there for the wholesaler/producer to pickup which they must take back.
 
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Seasoned Oak

Minister of Fire
Oct 17, 2008
7,095
Eastern Central PA
A friend just visited Germany and a lot of unnecessary packaging is left at the point of purchase. So it never goes home and is right there for the wholesaler/producer to pickup which they must take back.
Ill bet they find ways to reduce that unnecessary packaging, fast!
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
85,058
South Puget Sound, WA
We need to keep moving forward as a society. Once you have made a lifestyle commitment to this and your children, it's hard to go backward.
 
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peakbagger

Minister of Fire
Jul 11, 2008
5,629
Northern NH
I would guess the packaged meal kit business either does not exist or has far different look to it in Germany. Its shocking to see the pile of trash associated with one meal.
 

SpaceBus

Minister of Fire
Nov 18, 2018
4,768
Downeast Maine
Nowadays the only plastic packaging I come across is found on my meat. Now that I buy produce from the Coop and meat from Maine butchers I have way less packaging than when I shop at the supermarket.
 
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jebatty

Minister of Fire
Jan 1, 2008
5,755
Northern MN
When we eat out, my wife and I bring glass container "doggy bags" to take the leftovers home. No bag, foam or throw-away doggy bags at all.
 

SpaceBus

Minister of Fire
Nov 18, 2018
4,768
Downeast Maine
When we eat out, my wife and I bring glass container "doggy bags" to take the leftovers home. No bag, foam or throw-away doggy bags at all.
I've begun using mason jars for leftovers, pretty soon I'll need some more. If we ever ate out perhaps I could bring some in the car.
 
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jatoxico

Minister of Fire
Aug 8, 2011
4,219
Long Island NY
Ill bet they find ways to reduce that unnecessary packaging, fast!
I think that's exactly one of the points. With cradle to grave responsibility it makes sense to spend up front on better delivery alternatives that either have a recycle market or employ less one-use materials in the first place.

Also incentivizes the processing of recycling materials since there is no "landfill" option though I think they were also sending a lot to China and that market has dried up.
 
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semipro

Minister of Fire
Jan 12, 2009
3,882
SW Virginia
When we eat out, my wife and I bring glass container "doggy bags" to take the leftovers home. No bag, foam or throw-away doggy bags at all.
We do this as well. We also now have reusable plastic "sporks" and straws that we carry for use with fast food.
The plastic lids on disposable paper cups have been a challenge though. Many aren't even marked for recycling.
 
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tadmaz

Feeling the Heat
Dec 21, 2017
448
Erin, WI
I bring my lunch to work in a 7 cup round pyrex. Bringing something like that for a doggy bag is a good idea, noted!
 
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Seasoned Oak

Minister of Fire
Oct 17, 2008
7,095
Eastern Central PA
Nowadays the only plastic packaging I come across is found on my meat. Now that I buy produce from the Coop and meat from Maine butchers I have way less packaging than when I shop at the supermarket.
I remember when meat was wrapped in white paper, and the butcher was a local farmer that came to your house in a truck with a display case inside.
 
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peakbagger

Minister of Fire
Jul 11, 2008
5,629
Northern NH
The local chain supermarket puts the fish in a plastic bag and then wraps it up in butcher paper.
 
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semipro

Minister of Fire
Jan 12, 2009
3,882
SW Virginia

Sodbuster

Minister of Fire
Sep 22, 2012
1,462
Michigan
I bring my lunch to work in a 7 cup round pyrex. Bringing something like that for a doggy bag is a good idea, noted!
That's exactly what my wife does, Pyrex bowls with the plastic snap on lids. We put the the Pyrex in the dishwasher, but she hand washes the plastic tops. they'll virtually last forever.
 
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Seasoned Oak

Minister of Fire
Oct 17, 2008
7,095
Eastern Central PA
:cool:I drink mostly bottled beer so im doing my part and recycling the bottles.
.
 

Sodbuster

Minister of Fire
Sep 22, 2012
1,462
Michigan
:cool:I drink mostly bottled beer so im doing my part and recycling the bottles.
.
Walked past the Boy Scouts of America selling bottled water as we exiting the grocery store today. FSS is it really that hard to fill a glass?
 
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SpaceBus

Minister of Fire
Nov 18, 2018
4,768
Downeast Maine
That's exactly what my wife does, Pyrex bowls with the plastic snap on lids. We put the the Pyrex in the dishwasher, but she hand washes the plastic tops. they'll virtually last forever.
I need more of these. I have a small one but it's constantly in use.
 

AlbergSteve

Minister of Fire
Dec 11, 2017
840
n
One solution is to raise the price of landfilled trash
The problem with raising tipping fees is people are less inclined pay the increased cost and end up dumping illegally. I've seen "tarped" truck loads in the bush -this is where they put a tarp in the bed of a truck, load it with drywall and head out to the bush. A rope is tied to the tarp and a nearby tree, then simply drive away. It's getting so bad some municipalities are installing game cams in the worst affected areas.
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
85,058
South Puget Sound, WA
The problem with raising tipping fees is people are less inclined pay the increased cost and end up dumping illegally.
Agreed the problem is with people. There are too many that only think of themselves.