Killing our planet with plastics

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
83,747
South Puget Sound, WA
Folks in England were stunned and dismayed when they found out that testing of local river waters had much higher concentrations of microplastics than the previous hot spot, South Korean beaches. Textiles were the suspected cause.
 

SpaceBus

Minister of Fire
Nov 18, 2018
4,503
Downeast Maine
is there any other cheap replacement for plastic ?
Depends, plastic has a wide range of applications. In most cases it is used due to cost. If all of the plastics were replaced in textiles I would imagine clothing to cost four times as much, or even more.
 

peakbagger

Minister of Fire
Jul 11, 2008
5,445
Northern NH
is there any other cheap replacement for plastic ?
There are bioplastics made out of wood pulp derivatives, they tend to break down in the environment easier. Hard to beat the price of fossil based plastics. Oil companies realize that the markets for fossil fuels could decline so they are investing in making more plastics. BTW plastics can be readly converted back to transportation fuels it just cost more than drilling a hole in the ground. Throw in carbon taxes and the plastics issues changes radically.
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
83,747
South Puget Sound, WA
There's a firm in Portland OR that is turning plastics into fuel right now. Their preference is to turn it back into plastics, but as peak noted, the price of raw plastic has to go up a bit. Actually, I've read that it would not need to go up a whole lot for re-refined plastics to be competitive. The other part of that puzzle is that it could help greatly if there were several more regional plastics pre-processing centers that would gather plastics from the smaller municipalities in the region and prep them for shipment to the major chemical refineries equipped to refine the recycled plastics. WA state is working on the piece of the problem.
 

PaulOinMA

Minister of Fire
Oct 20, 2018
701
MA
Here's a very interesting discussion about recycling I read yesterday.

 

peakbagger

Minister of Fire
Jul 11, 2008
5,445
Northern NH
The small town next to me has recycling wardens. New comers no doubt will be accompanied to the bins at the transfer station by one of the "wardens" to ensure the new comer is following the rules. Eventually the wardens learn to trust the repeat visitors. They also have pay per bag so the temptation by some is to try to recycle too much. Most of the towns nearby do pickup and across the board renters and apartments are the biggest problem, seems to be the lower the economic status of the tenants the worst their recycling habits are.
 

gggvan

Member
Dec 6, 2012
68
Wait...does any country take recyclables anymore? I heard China cut us off for being messy. I don't think we're paying folks in this country to clean food and other muck off recyclables.
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
83,747
South Puget Sound, WA
Wait...does any country take recyclables anymore? I heard China cut us off for being messy. I don't think we're paying folks in this country to clean food and other muck off recyclables.
It's a changing scenario. #1&2 plastics are quite recyclable (or downcyclable) and therefor have value and processors in the US and Canada. #6 is also pretty recyclable. The others now are mostly landfilled or incinerated if they are not turned into fuel. Quantities are still being shipped to third world countries, but that is a messy process that is being curtailed in many countries because of the rampant pollution created.

This is a powerful movie on The Story of Plastics. Worth a watch to understand the issues. This is an introductory trailer:


 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
83,747
South Puget Sound, WA
is there any other cheap replacement for plastic ?
That is a somewhat fallacious question. Plastics are cheap to make, and often offer cheap packaging solutions, but the actual costs of plastics to the taxpayer, the environment, and life itself are now becoming huge. Remember that the ubiquity of plastics in packaging is a new problem, only gaining steam for the past 30 yrs. But the results are now ever-present in the environment and the tolls are getting high. We are all breathing, eating and drinking plastics as they break down into micro and nanoparticles.
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
83,747
South Puget Sound, WA
Very sad news today. A new report says that there is 10 times the volume of plastics in the Atlantic than previously thought. And this is based on collection 4 yrs ago. This is madness. It will continue until there is a cost to the producers for the cleanup and recycling.