Killing our planet with plastics

peakbagger

Minister of Fire
Jul 11, 2008
5,999
Northern NH
On the news this weekend is that China is in theory getting serious about single use plastics. They apparently produce 1/4 of the plastic in the world. They are banning some classes of single use plastics. https://www.forbes.com/sites/trevornace/2020/01/20/china-to-ban-all-single-use-plastics/#755a91cb7293 The devil is in the details as typically the central government passes the laws but its up to regional authorities to enforce them. This has been a problem in the past where the regional authorities on occasion are willing to accepts bribes to look the other way. Nevertheless at least the central government admits publicly its a problem. and has a plan.

Maybe a future US government will at least match the proposal.
 
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Seasoned Oak

Minister of Fire
Oct 17, 2008
7,205
Eastern Central PA
Agreed the problem is with people. There are too many that only think of themselves.
Which is why it should be handled at the point of purchase. That would also incentivize Mfgs to produce packaging with less waste.
 

Sodbuster

Minister of Fire
Sep 22, 2012
1,478
Michigan
We stopped buying bottled water years ago, it comes from a well just like we have. It's a contentious issue here in Michigan where Nestle is pulling millions of gallons out of the ground to bottle as sell to consumers.
 
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Ashful

Minister of Fire
Mar 7, 2012
15,715
Philadelphia
Which is why it should be handled at the point of purchase. That would also incentivize Mfgs to produce packaging with less waste.
I suspect that, like nearly all complex problems, there is no single solution. But I would agree this has to be one very big part of it.
 

Seasoned Oak

Minister of Fire
Oct 17, 2008
7,205
Eastern Central PA
We stopped buying bottled water years ago, it comes from a well just like we have. It's a contentious issue here in Michigan where Nestle is pulling millions of gallons out of the ground to bottle as sell to consumers.
The local walmart sells coke for 50c a can in their vending machines but the water is $1 or more. As if the coke does not also contain purified water among other things. I guess corn sweetener is cheaper to produce than water.
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
86,515
South Puget Sound, WA
The local walmart sells coke for 50c a can in their vending machines but the water is $1 or more. As if the coke does not also contain purified water among other things. I guess corn sweetener is cheaper to produce than water.
Better by the can than Coke in a plastic bottle.
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
86,515
South Puget Sound, WA
The fossil fuel industry is banking on a dramatic increase in plastics production to balance out a decline in transportation fuel consumption. There is now so much plastic in the air, water and food that the average person is consuming about a credit card's worth every week. We need to stop subsidizing this sociopathy.

"More than half the plastic now on Earth has been created since 2002, and plastic pollution is on pace to double by 2030. At its root, the global plastics crisis is a product of our addiction to fossil fuels. The private profit and public harm of the oil industry is well understood: Oil is refined and distributed to consumers, who benefit from gasoline’s short, useful lifespan in a combustion engine, leaving behind atmospheric pollution for generations. But this same pattern — and this same tragedy of the commons — is playing out with another gift of the oil-and-gas giants, whose drilling draws up the petroleum precursors for plastics. These are refined in industrial complexes and manufactured into bottles, bags, containers, textiles, and toys for consumers who benefit from their transient use — before throwing them away."
 
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Sodbuster

Minister of Fire
Sep 22, 2012
1,478
Michigan
If you want to live back in the stone age be my guest, but don't be a hypocrite about fossil fuels. Make sure their is nothing in your house that is made from or delivered by fossil fuels. Your electric car should only be charge with wind and solar power. Actually you shouldn't live in a house because it would be impossible for it to be built without fossil fuels. With the exception of plastic bottles and bags, I do not believe that we as a country are not doing our part to reduce fossil fuel usage. Car mileage is going up every year, if our gov't would allow reasonable clean diesel we could reduce that even further, but as it stands now, by the time you pay the premium for a diesel engine, the blue def to put in it, and the mileage toll all the emission control has, you are better off buying a gas engine.
 

Seasoned Oak

Minister of Fire
Oct 17, 2008
7,205
Eastern Central PA
Big push to ban plastic bags at the grocery but ck your groceries next time and at least 90+% of it is contained in plastic. Even fresh vegetables. A few cardboard containers yet but plastic bags inside containing the actual food,like cereal and saltine crackers,even potato chips bags. Most containers that were once glass are now plastic.
 

Sodbuster

Minister of Fire
Sep 22, 2012
1,478
Michigan
Big push to ban plastic bags at the grocery but ck your groceries next time and at least 90+% of it is contained in plastic. Even fresh vegetables. A few cardboard containers yet but plastic bags inside containing the actual food,like cereal and saltine crackers,even potato chips bags. Most containers that were once glass are now plastic.
We use plastic bags for all out groceries, but only because our grocery store has a recycle bin in place. when we get a bag stuffed full, we bring all but one back and start over.
 
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peakbagger

Minister of Fire
Jul 11, 2008
5,999
Northern NH
There used to be local group that promoted small forest product industries in the region, they had bumper sticker "If you object to paper try using plastic toilet paper". Plastic toilet paper has sort of come true as some of the so called wet flushable wipes are made with treated plastic fiber. Reportedly with the plastic bag bans, the few companies making paper grocery bags are running 24/7. Hard to replace a ziplock bag with reusable bowl for everything but in the case of plastic versus paper bags I will take paper anytime.

A Chinese firm has recently bought two papermill in Maine and are spending a bundle on them as they cant get good enough fiber in China. Paper can only be recycled so many times before its not strong enough. They were getting fiber from the trash that was being shipped to China labeled as recycled but now that the Chinese government put a stop to it, the need to get their fiber at its source so they can blend it in with the recycled stuff they can still get.
 
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Ashful

Minister of Fire
Mar 7, 2012
15,715
Philadelphia
If you want to live back in the stone age be my guest, but don't be a hypocrite about fossil fuels. Make sure their is nothing in your house that is made from or delivered by fossil fuels. Your electric car should only be charge with wind and solar power. Actually you shouldn't live in a house because it would be impossible for it to be built without fossil fuels. With the exception of plastic bottles and bags, I do not believe that we as a country are not doing our part to reduce fossil fuel usage. Car mileage is going up every year, if our gov't would allow reasonable clean diesel we could reduce that even further, but as it stands now, by the time you pay the premium for a diesel engine, the blue def to put in it, and the mileage toll all the emission control has, you are better off buying a gas engine.
Our beloved tree huggers are not hypocritical for endeavoring to improve what they can, just because they’re constrained by the practical limitations of living a reasonable life in today’s society. Sometimes it’s time to just shut up and learn how we can all make some improvements in our daily and long-term behaviors and buying habits, even when it disagrees with the party line you’ve been conditioned to tow.

I know I’ve learned things from guys like begreen that have changed my habits for the better. There are inconveniences that he or jebatty are willing to endure, which I have chosen against, but many other areas where the changes are more agreeable to me. Do what you can do, to contribute to the global good, on whatever level suits your dedication. But I don’t see much point in calling out a vegan as a hypocrite, just because they may have accidentally stepped on a worm while walking to work this morning.
 
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begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
86,515
South Puget Sound, WA
If you want to live back in the stone age be my guest, but don't be a hypocrite about fossil fuels. Make sure their is nothing in your house that is made from or delivered by fossil fuels. Your electric car should only be charge with wind and solar power. Actually you shouldn't live in a house because it would be impossible for it to be built without fossil fuels. With the exception of plastic bottles and bags, I do not believe that we as a country are not doing our part to reduce fossil fuel usage. Car mileage is going up every year, if our gov't would allow reasonable clean diesel we could reduce that even further, but as it stands now, by the time you pay the premium for a diesel engine, the blue def to put in it, and the mileage toll all the emission control has, you are better off buying a gas engine.
For sure we will still need fossil fuels for a while where appropriate. That was neither the focus or point of the article, nor does our need give liberty to chit on the planet. Taxpayers should not be paying for subsidizing this largess. The article is about the plastics industry and the overwhelming impact of too much plastic on the planet. This is irresponsible and is having very long term consequences. That needs to stop. We don't need fossil fuels to make new plastics. There is enough plastic existing to make new plastics and oil for at least a century. (estim. 83 Billion Metric Tons) 91% of this plastic is not reused or recycled. That is how bad the situation is. Our survival depends on doing much better.

FWIW, People built and lived in nice houses before fossil fuels played a role.

PS: It doesn't have to be this way. Norway's recycling rate of plastics is 97%. Their plastics waste stream is so clean that soda bottle plastic can be recycled up to 50 times!
 
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Sodbuster

Minister of Fire
Sep 22, 2012
1,478
Michigan
I don't need to be told to shut up because my observations are different than yours. I have no party line to tow. The previous Administration was working very hard to follow the European model, where they have diesel vehicles that get over 50mpg. But they are not allowed here due to the EPA, and neither the current Administration or the previous one did anything to relax those rules, even though Europe is known for it conservation efforts. I never mentioned Vegan, so I'm not sure where that's coming from, but my sister is Vegan, but still will happily wear leather boots.
 

Ashful

Minister of Fire
Mar 7, 2012
15,715
Philadelphia
I don't need to be told to shut up because my observations are different than yours.
You don’t need to shut up, you’re free to post all the lectures you want, poking silly little holes in the life choices of anyone who is trying to do some good, if that’s what makes you feel better about your own.

But let’s be clear, the post I quoted was a lecture, not an observation. In case you forgot your own words:
...don't be a hypocrite about fossil fuels. Make sure their is nothing in your house that is made from or delivered by fossil fuels. Your electric car should only be charge with wind and solar power. Actually you shouldn't live in a house because it would be impossible for it to be built without fossil fuels.
The vegan statement was an analogy to the absurdity of your lecture about not living in a house if you have any desire to reduce fossil fuel usage. Sorry if you didn’t get it, I thought it was amusing. Maybe it’s better in person.
 
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SpaceBus

Minister of Fire
Nov 18, 2018
5,394
Downeast Maine
Our beloved tree huggers are not hypocritical for endeavoring to improve what they can, just because they’re constrained by the practical limitations of living a reasonable life in today’s society. Sometimes it’s time to just shut up and learn how we can all make some improvements in our daily and long-term behaviors and buying habits, even when it disagrees with the party line you’ve been conditioned to tow.

I know I’ve learned things from guys like begreen that have changed my habits for the better. There are inconveniences that he or jebatty are willing to endure, which I have chosen against, but many other areas where the changes are more agreeable to me. Do what you can do, to contribute to the global good, on whatever level suits your dedication. But I don’t see much point in calling out a vegan as a hypocrite, just because they may have accidentally stepped on a worm while walking to work this morning.
There used to be a time when I didn't care at all for the environment and saw it as something for me to use. Then I went to Afghanistan and saw what a polluted earth really looked like. Some parts were near pristine, but decades, nay centuries, of War have left no stone unturned. It hurts to give up on the high strung ICE in its many forms, but I love the earth a little bit more than I love racecars and motorcycles. I have a fantasy that scientists will make liquid hydrogen technology cheap and efficient and driven by solar power, then the carbon captured from the atmosphere can be added to the hydrogen to make a clean hydrocarbon fuel for our existing "legacy" ICE infrastructure. Obviously EVs with batteries or hydrogen fuel cells or whatever are the future, but perhaps we can have our cake and eat it too.
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
86,515
South Puget Sound, WA
We use plastic bags for all out groceries, but only because our grocery store has a recycle bin in place. when we get a bag stuffed full, we bring all but one back and start over.
Thanks. If we each do 5 things like this to reduce waste and our impact on the planet, it would help a lot. It's a start.
 
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CaptSpiff

Minister of Fire
Jan 13, 2014
541
Long Island, NY
Not sure this has been asked in this thread: Could we collect plastic, not for recycling but for sequestering, and call it carbon capture?

I'm thinking, if plastic is not economically reusable, then collect it anyway and melt it into one cubic yard blocks. Then use those blocks as fill for levy bases, beach dune replacement, retaining walls or jersey barriers (anywhere concrete and sandbags are now used). If it needs to be heavier, mix it with broken glass bottles (which also are now on the non-recycle list).

Then if it ever becomes economical to restart recycling, the collection process is already in place.
 

Ashful

Minister of Fire
Mar 7, 2012
15,715
Philadelphia
Not sure this has been asked in this thread: Could we collect plastic, not for recycling but for sequestering, and call it carbon capture?

I'm thinking, if plastic is not economically reusable, then collect it anyway and melt it into one cubic yard blocks. Then use those blocks as fill for levy bases, beach dune replacement, retaining walls or jersey barriers (anywhere concrete and sandbags are now used). If it needs to be heavier, mix it with broken glass bottles (which also are now on the non-recycle list).

Then if it ever becomes economical to restart recycling, the collection process is already in place.
I like the unconventional thinking, but wouldn't that plastic, even if in large blocks, contribute to the microplastics problem, due to mechanical abrasion (surf) and UV break-down?
 

SpaceBus

Minister of Fire
Nov 18, 2018
5,394
Downeast Maine
I like the unconventional thinking, but wouldn't that plastic, even if in large blocks, contribute to the microplastics problem, due to mechanical abrasion (surf) and UV break-down?
Yes, the plastic would have to be sequestered in a non reactive environment.
 

Sodbuster

Minister of Fire
Sep 22, 2012
1,478
Michigan
How about, (and I'm not kidding) burning plastics as a way to generate electricity, provided they could use or come up with the right scrubbers so as not to put pollution into the air. At least there would be an upside vs burying them forever. I used to recycle, we had a 90 gallon cart for waste and for recyclables. There were many weeks that we didn't even need to pull the trash bin to the road but the recycle cart was almost always full. Then I learned that they just charged extra for the recycling, but it all went to the landfill, just another way to make a buck out of those trying to do the right thing.
 
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semipro

Minister of Fire
Jan 12, 2009
3,958
SW Virginia
How about, (and I'm not kidding) burning plastics as a way to generate electricity, provided they could use or come up with the right scrubbers so as not to put pollution into the air. At least there would be an upside vs burying them forever. I used to recycle, we had a 90 gallon cart for waste and for recyclables. There were many weeks that we didn't even need to pull the trash bin to the road but the recycle cart was almost always full. Then I learned that they just charged extra for the recycling, but it all went to the landfill, just another way to make a buck out of those trying to do the right thing.
Check this thread. https://www.hearth.com/talk/threads/waste-to-energy.179400/
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
86,515
South Puget Sound, WA
All good thoughts and suggestions. We can be smarter about this.
 
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semipro

Minister of Fire
Jan 12, 2009
3,958
SW Virginia
A piece about laundry impacts on plastics in oceans.