Killing our planet with plastics

WiscWoody

Minister of Fire
Dec 24, 2011
1,985
Winter WI
I wander how glass bottles would compare ecologically compared to plastic bottles and jars? Back in the early 80’s I worked for Brockway Glass Co., it was the 2nd largest bottle and jar maker (and we made the Looney Tunes glasses for a fast food restaurant too) in the world at the time but plastics came on strong around then and they were lighter to ship and used less energy to make so our plant in Minnesota was shut down on Christmas 1984. We made a million bottles and jars a day in the one plant and it was a good paying job. Shortly after the shut down the company merged with Owens Illinois, the largest glass maker in the world.
 
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begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
87,306
South Puget Sound, WA
I've seen what appears to be plastic bottles stating that they are plant based, not plastic.

I've seen plastic bottles that claim to degrade with the sun, but they are buried at the landfill.

Not sure what exactly you were talking about though. I bet waxed paper milk and oj containers degrade or are recycled just fine.
Oh there are products I am sure, I just haven't stumbled on many of them yet. I have seen some hemp oil based plastics and some sugar cane based. Our community is going to undertake a study this summer to see if we can come up with good solutions for local vendors and festivals.

There are products listed and made here, but the question is how well they work and then how does the plastic break down (UV, heat, etc.) and into what components or elements. Many "compostable" plastics will not breakdown in your home compost pile. They require higher temps to break down and must be sorted for industrial composting.

Milk cartons are no longer wax coated, they are plastic coated. Same with coffee cups. They bring their own problems.
http://www.ecocycle.org/microplasticsincompost/faqs
 
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begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
87,306
South Puget Sound, WA
I wander how glass bottles would compare ecologically compared to plastic bottles and jars? Back in the early 80’s I worked for Brockway Glass Co., it was the 2nd largest bottle and jar maker (and we made the Looney Tunes glasses for a fast food restaurant too) in the world at the time but plastics came on strong around then and they were lighter to ship and used less energy to make so our plant in Minnesota was shut down on Christmas 1984. We made a million bottles and jars a day in the one plant and it was a good paying job. Shortly after the shut down the company mergers with Owens Illinois, the largest glass maker in the world.
Glass is so much more recyclable. Part of why plastic costs less is because the manufacturers place the cost on their disposal or recycling on the consumer and taxpayer. Another part is because our oil industry is subsidized.
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
87,306
South Puget Sound, WA
A bit more research is showing me that the US is in over-production mode. That $180 Billion invested is being made to pay off. As long as there is too much plastic resin and no drivers for the resin producers to be part of the solution, the value of recycled plastics will remain low. As long as there is no demand, there will be no incentive to move toward circularity and waste will continue to be systemic issues. This appears to be where change needs to start.
 

WiscWoody

Minister of Fire
Dec 24, 2011
1,985
Winter WI
Glass is so much more recyclable. Part of why plastic costs less is because the manufacturers place the cost on their disposal or recycling on the consumer and taxpayer. Another part is because our oil industry is subsidized.
I would think that if glass were in the ocean as a open bottle for example, it would sink to the bottom and be eventually buried by sand forever.
 

vinny11950

Minister of Fire
May 17, 2010
1,700
Eastern Long Island, NY

Seasoned Oak

Minister of Fire
Oct 17, 2008
7,214
Eastern Central PA

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
87,306
South Puget Sound, WA
We a close to the tipping point, if not already there.
 

Seasoned Oak

Minister of Fire
Oct 17, 2008
7,214
Eastern Central PA
We a close to the tipping point, if not already there.
Once that tipping point is reached it will be many years before it flushes itself out again ,probably a few lifetimes. I simple solution would be to impose a small but graduated tax on all plastic in order to spur innovation to biodegragable products. Plastic water bottles being the top offender with grocery bags a close second should be done at a faster pace. OR do we wait until seafood is no longer on the menu?
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
87,306
South Puget Sound, WA
With the death of the oceans, we are not far behind. 70% of the world's oxygen comes from the seas.
 

Seasoned Oak

Minister of Fire
Oct 17, 2008
7,214
Eastern Central PA
If plastics Mfg were made responsible for the proper recycling or disposal of their product would help a great deal. Its not unheard of.We pay a disposal fee when we buy new tires. Dont want to pay the fee? Change to a safer product. Our garbage is at least 70% plastic.
 
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begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
87,306
South Puget Sound, WA
If plastics Mfg were made responsible for the proper recycling or disposal of their product would help a great deal. Its not unheard of.We pay a disposal fee when we buy new tires. Dont want to pay the fee? Change to a safer product. Our garbage is at least 70% plastic.
That is a big part of the problem. In the US the taxpayer bears the cost of plastics disposal. In Europe the manufacturer owns them, cradle to grave. This has led to more of a cradle to cradle attitude, with more careful use of plastics and less, more innovative packaging.

In the meantime one garbage truck load of plastics enters our oceans every minute.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/newsbeat/article/42030979/blue-planet-2-how-plastic-is-slowly-killing-our-sea-creatures-fish-and-birds
 
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begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
87,306
South Puget Sound, WA
There are a lot of solutions being worked on. There are several new bioplastics that are showing promise and there are some innovative solutions using previous waste product like wheat bran and compressing that into common single-use items like plates, cups, cutlery that are used for picnics, fast food, events, etc..

This is a recent polymer development that could be one to watch.
https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/04/180426141530.htm
 
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sportbikerider78

Minister of Fire
Jun 23, 2014
2,493
Saratoga, NY
Glass is so much more recyclable. Part of why plastic costs less is because the manufacturers place the cost on their disposal or recycling on the consumer and taxpayer. Another part is because our oil industry is subsidized.
It is also, much, much, much heavier. Everything requires distribution with trucking and that is not to be overlooked.

How many 16oz bottles would a pound of plastic make? 25-40?
Now how about glass? 3-5?

For plastics, the pellets come in on a rain car, vacuumed into a silo, go directly into the molding machine and then (very often) they are automatically packed. They stack inside each other VERY efficiently and are relatively light to move. A tractor trailer can hold over a million Cool Whip sized containers. How many glass containers of that size could it move? 10,000, if you're lucky and that would be much heavier.
Don't glass bottles also require a plastic seal combined with a plastic or metal retainer? That is additional manufacturing, usually in a different plant. More transportation.

The plastic is very recyclable. Grind it up. Mix it with virgin material and make whatever your heart desires.

I don't know how common glass bottle/container manufacturing is, but plastics is often close to the source for large containers. Most of the time, they are made close to their point of consumption so the trucking is minimized to a few hours or less.

Logistics matter and all of these factors are considered when companies decide where to build facilities.
 
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Seasoned Oak

Minister of Fire
Oct 17, 2008
7,214
Eastern Central PA
In the meantime one garbage truck load of plastics enters our oceans every minute.
I think that is wildly Underestimated. World wide much, much more than that. Perhaps every second.
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
87,306
South Puget Sound, WA
It is also, much, much, much heavier. Everything requires distribution with trucking and that is not to be overlooked.

How many 16oz bottles would a pound of plastic make? 25-40?
Now how about glass? 3-5?

For plastics, the pellets come in on a rain car, vacuumed into a silo, go directly into the molding machine and then (very often) they are automatically packed. They stack inside each other VERY efficiently and are relatively light to move. A tractor trailer can hold over a million Cool Whip sized containers. How many glass containers of that size could it move? 10,000, if you're lucky and that would be much heavier.
Don't glass bottles also require a plastic seal combined with a plastic or metal retainer? That is additional manufacturing, usually in a different plant. More transportation.

The plastic is very recyclable. Grind it up. Mix it with virgin material and make whatever your heart desires.

I don't know how common glass bottle/container manufacturing is, but plastics is often close to the source for large containers. Most of the time, they are made close to their point of consumption so the trucking is minimized to a few hours or less.

Logistics matter and all of these factors are considered when companies decide where to build facilities.
For sure, plastics have worked their way into our culture for a reason. But the costs of this miracle are steep and mounting. Why I am glad to see several local breweries switching aluminum cans. Even better yet our local store now fills growlers! There I prefer glass and will clean my own.

#1 and 2 plastics are easily recyclable. Others are not. And were it really gets bad is clever packaging that has multiple plastic types. That stuff is almost impossible to recycle. Burning may be the best answer for them.
 
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semipro

Minister of Fire
Jan 12, 2009
3,998
SW Virginia
But the costs of this miracle are steep and mounting.
Reminds me of some other products of "better living through chemistry" such as pesticides, fire retarders, endocrine disruptors, etc.
 

semipro

Minister of Fire
Jan 12, 2009
3,998
SW Virginia
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begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
87,306
South Puget Sound, WA
Whales dying with a stomach full of plastic is another blatant symptom of our excess.
 

semipro

Minister of Fire
Jan 12, 2009
3,998
SW Virginia

Seasoned Oak

Minister of Fire
Oct 17, 2008
7,214
Eastern Central PA
Whales dying with a stomach full of plastic is another blatant symptom of our excess.
Its really heartbreaking. And getting worse. For our own survival and also to leave our kids a clean environment some small steps can mean a lot.Eventually it will overwhelm us in the sheer magnitude of the problem.
 
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begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
87,306
South Puget Sound, WA
We're working locally to reduce single use plastics consumption. Hopefully many other communities are too and a larger awareness will coalesce. China's National Sword program is helping convince govt. officials that we need to rethink policy and examine options.
 

vinny11950

Minister of Fire
May 17, 2010
1,700
Eastern Long Island, NY
There is so much capacity available to do these things but we just can't get it together.

I am always amazed by the bottle deposit program that sends people looking for can and bottles. For five cents!
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
87,306
South Puget Sound, WA
There is so much capacity available to do these things but we just can't get it together.

I am always amazed by the bottle deposit program that sends people looking for can and bottles. For five cents!
Bottling companies (Coke and Pepsi) fought a bottle deposit tooth and nail in WA. They spent some big bucks to destroy the vote and won.
 

sportbikerider78

Minister of Fire
Jun 23, 2014
2,493
Saratoga, NY
Mexico has a huge return policy on bottles and cans. It was in place 15 years ago. Still trash everywhere. Just no bottles and cans.

If it is other countries dumping trash into the ocean...not sure how local policy change is going to help.