Less than 10% of the world's plastics have actually ever been recycled. There is a good Frontline documentary on today's state of the plastics industry and recycling (or lack thereof). The program demonstrates that recycling of plastics is minimal despite all those stamps we now have on plastics indicating their recyclable category.
Post by Gary Riccio on Jun 19, 2020 7:34:22 GMT -5
Thousands of Tons of Microplastics Are Falling from the Sky: New research (link) helps unravel how vast amounts of plastic particles travel—both regionally and globally—on the wind
From the article:
As the plastics discarded by humans break down into tiny pieces in the environment, they, too, drift through the atmosphere.
“We’re not supposed to breathe in this material,” says Steve Allen, a microplastics researcher at the University of Strathclyde in Scotland, who was not involved in the new study. Plastics in the environment “carry all sorts of pesticides, heavy metals and all the other chemicals that we've made over time,” he adds. “They're going to carry them directly into our lungs.”
found nearly everywhere researchers have looked: in cities, in Arctic snow, on remote mountaintops
The particles and fibers they captured originated as carpeting, paint, cosmetic products, camping gear, and more. But the largest contribution came from clothing. Clothes shed microfibers when they are washed and dried, as well as during daily use.
The scientists found microplastics in almost every sample they collected. In total, 4 percent of the identifiable dust particles were plastic.
“They’ve done a nice job of especially working out where it came from and the sort of distances it can travel,”
Post by dorieseavey on Jun 22, 2020 9:00:26 GMT -5
This article looks at the impact of Covid-19 and falling oil prices on the recycling industry in the US, the plastics industry and state-level legislation aimed at reducing the use of single-use plastics. The outlook is concerning.
But the following analysis from the Center for International Environmental Law (April 2020) adds even more perspective. It agrees that Covid will probably cause delays in clean-energy transition. But it argues that these efforts (not to mention current massive lobbying efforts by oil, gas, and plastic industries for bailouts, regulatory rollbacks and non-enforcement of environmental laws) are unlikely to reverse underlying trends driving long-term decline of oil, gas and petrochemical (plastics) industries.
Post by Gary Riccio on Jun 23, 2020 7:42:35 GMT -5
My friends in this discussion have edified me about the abuse of recycling campaigns by firms and their friends with too much sunk cost in products that, however unintentionally, are unhealthy and ecologically destructive. While we have power as consumers to change the business case for such products, recycling must not remove the moral burden that corporations and government (should) have to first do no harm. The abuse of recycling has essentially been gaslighting that takes the spotlight off manufacturers, producers and governments that subsidize them. This is insidious, and everyone should be made more aware of it.
We can change the narrative, as individuals, from recycling to a demand for products that consumers don't have to recycle either because nature can take care of it or because suppliers have an interest in doing it. "If you [buy] it, they will come." If you don't buy it, they will go. Demand alternatives that capitalism requires to work in the interest of society. Don't allow our governmental representatives to subsidize a lack of alternatives, in essence, don't allow them to undermine conscious capitalism.
Post by Gary Riccio on Jun 23, 2020 7:56:11 GMT -5
Here (link) is a nice article from the Harvard Medical School on some threats of plastic to your health.
From the article:
Different types of plastic have different names based on their composition — such as polypropylene, polyethylene, polyethylene terephthalate, and polycarbonate — and contain a variety of chemicals with different properties, such as plasticizers, antioxidants, and colorants.
Generally, there are several chemicals in plastics that are considered worrisome because they have been shown to be harmful to people who are exposed over the long term.
Among the more troubling chemicals are phthalates and bisphenol A (BPA) [There was some legal action concerning phthalates (typically softer plastics) emerging in California twenty years ago. I will try to track this down.]
A 2003-04 analysis by the CDC and the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) found that exposure to phthalates was widespread in the U.S. population. Adult women had higher exposure than men, likely because some phthalates are also found in many cosmetics as well as personal care products such as soaps, shampoo, and body washes.
Bisphenol A [BPA] has gotten a lot of attention in recent years because studies have shown it has reproductive and other health effects in both humans and rodents. It's most often used to make a hard type of plastic called polycarbonate, which is found in products like DVDs. It's also a component of epoxy resins, which are used for numerous purposes, such as lining the inside of food storage cans.
Post by Gary Riccio on Jun 23, 2020 8:01:17 GMT -5
Here (link) is an article from the Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL) on the threats of plastic to human health.
This article contains links fo highly informative reports. From the article:
According to the report, uncertainties and knowledge gaps often impede regulation and the ability of consumers, communities, and policymakers to make informed decisions. However, the full scale of health impacts throughout plastic’s lifecycle are overwhelming and warrant a precautionary approach.
Plastic requires a lifecycle approach. The narrow approaches to assessing and addressing plastic impacts to date are inadequate and inappropriate. Making informed decisions that address plastic risks demands a full lifecycle approach to understand the full scope of its toxic impacts on human health. Likewise, reducing toxic exposure to plastic will require a variety of solutions and options because plastic has a complex lifecycle with a diverse universe of actors.
At every stage of its lifecycle, plastic poses distinct risks to human health, arising from both exposure to plastic particles themselves and associated chemicals. People worldwide are exposed at multiple stages of this lifecycle.
Another article on the how the pandemic is affecting plastics usage and waste, and not in good ways. Fortunately, the main message of this article is that reusable containers are OK! Got to get the message out.
It covers: impact of plastics on natural systems and human health, history of plastics industry, critique of recycling strategies of plastic industry, new technologies on the horizon, and important new federal legislation filed by Sen. Udall (see this discussion board's thread on "solutions"). One important takeaway for me: that plastics are a key blind spot in global energy debate as oil giants turn to plastic to support future growth in oil as demand from road-passenger transport declines over next 30 years.
Post by Gary Riccio on Jul 16, 2020 5:57:05 GMT -5
Thank you for the share, Dorie. Rolling Stone never disappoints. The fact there is a "Big Soda" emphasizes, to the point of absurdity, the culpability of consumers and consumerism that is at once a human crisis and a source of human solutions.
Corporations and industries do not arise out of thin air. Their birth and lifecycles depend on demand. We must redefine demand and enable its expression on a systems level in which we fully account for the current (and future!) costs to all consumers (i.e., society). If consumers are not adequately informed about the consequences of their patterns of buying and consumption, we will be doomed by the very consumerism on which most of the world depends. Organized consumerism may be the systems-level solution that maximizes the power and the focuses the influence of informed consumers writ large.
p.s., Government subsidies have a place and a time, but they also are a cost to consumers that must be considered and transparent in full cost accounting.
Post by Kent Wittenburg on Jan 25, 2021 11:33:15 GMT -5
What happens, you may ask, to the plastics and trash that goes into the recycle bin that is not in fact recycled? In Boston, it goes into the trash, and much of the city's trash is incinerated at the oldest trash incinerator in the country in Saugus, on the edge of Romney Marsh. As I recall reading, all of the trash from the city's recycling center in Charlestown goes to the incinerator.
From a quick web search, here are some organizations fighting to close the facility down and cap the waste heap. Meanwhile they (Wheelabrator) are seeking permits to add to the height of the ash waste heap.