Post by Kent Wittenburg on May 20, 2020 11:35:25 GMT -5
Australian billionaire Andrew Forrest has launched an effort to make plastics recycling economically viable. The proposal is to have the manufacturers of virgin plastics pay into a fund that would support recycling efforts. Over time, the goal would be to make recycled plastics cheaper that virgin plastics. If recycling of plastics becomes economical, then a huge amount of what is currently waste could be rescued from ending up in our dumps and our oceans.
For updates from NoPlasticsWaste, see their Twitter feed at: twitter.com/No_PlasticWaste . Their website hasn't had an update since Dec 2019, but there is lots of news on their Twitter Feed. For example:
July 12 Australia has established The Recycling Modernisation Fund which will go to companies involved in sorting, processing and reusing commonly discarded materials like plastic. With more corporate participation, a future w/ #NoPlastic waste is possible. see Reuters article July 11 Although the rollout wasn't perfect, Indonesia is on the right track banning single-use plastics in the capital city, Jakarta. See Reuters article. Even when we face roadblocks, it's crucial that we keep moving toward a future with #NoPlasticWaste!
Post by Kent Wittenburg on Jun 15, 2020 13:05:12 GMT -5
Legislation has been introduced in the US House of Representatives on Feb 11 called the "Break Free from Plastic Pollution Act." US Congresswoman Katherine Clark from Mass is a co-sponsor of this bill. At this writing it has been referred to committee and introduced in the House on February 11. The proposed bill includes the following elements:
Require Product Producers to Take Responsibility for Collecting and Recycling Materials
Require Nationwide Beverage Container Refunds
Source Reduction and Phase-Out Certain Polluting Products
Carryout Bag Fee
Minimum Recycled Content Requirement
Standardized Recycling and Composting
Measures to reduce impacts of Plastic Tobacco Filters, Electronic Cigarettes and Derelict Fishing Gear
Prevent Plastic Waste from Being Shipped to Developing Countries that Cannot Manage It
Protect Existing State Action
Temporary Pause on New Plastic Facilities
Here are links to some related articles and websites:
The author, Matt Wilkins, argues that: - The scale of plastic pollution is a global environmental catastrophe - Simply encouraging consumers to recycle more is to Earth what hammering a nail is to halting a falling skyscraper--that is, it won't solve the problem - Instead we need to push for national and state legislation that creates extended PRODUCER responsibility for waste management (such as bottle deposit and bag tax bills, and local initiatives to ban single-use plastic bottles)
See the article for steps we can each take and also for encouragement regarding thinking bigger: - Shifting our lifestyles to ensure that nearly everything is reused, recyled, composted - Shifting production to circular economic design
Post by Kent Wittenburg on Jun 22, 2020 10:45:17 GMT -5
Great article, Dorie. Thanks. I found that the Frontline documentary made many of these same points about the plastics industry.
I think that the point about individuals changing their individual behavior not solving the problem by itself is true of almost everything related to the climate crisis, regardless of how it started in the first place. Think about the US population generally as we know it. Can we really expect that everyone will be willing to change their behavior in time to solve things? Electricity usage, car and airline travel, food, plastics.... I don't think so. But still we need to take steps at a personal level. It won't solve the crisis by itself, but it won't hurt either. And, as you say, it may help us to take other steps to tackle the problems on larger levels.
Post by Gary Riccio on Jun 23, 2020 7:24:08 GMT -5
Innovation blurs the boundaries between individual (choice and agency), interpersonal (collaborative and accountable), collective (community and values), corporate (replicable and scalable), and governmental (society and advocacy), if not rendering them irrelevant. To the extent that human beings desire material solutions to a better life on Earth, we can continually seek to develop better manufacturing and products as we learn about the unintended consequences of prior innovation and patterns of use.
Engineering is a fundamentally moral enterprise in which all stakeholders must participate. One way to do this is to become aware of promising capabilities in the laboratory, not necessarily to become students of science but to avoid being led into the trap of assuming that our current systems, technologies and business models are the only way. Knowledge is power, as it were, over those with temporal privilege to whom we have otherwise ceded power completely.
Here (link) is one interesting line of research and development that might allow us to keep many of our familiar kinds of material goods without utter dependence on unsustainable, unhealthy and ecologically destructive products. It is not the only one. If we look deeper into nature, and listen more closely, she will whisper to us of solutions to our current abuse of her.
Post by dorieseavey on Jul 5, 2020 10:53:17 GMT -5
Here's an example of a county-wide, regional citizen action effort to create a meaningful geographic ban on single-use plastic water bottles (under 1 gallon). The region is Cape Cod in Massachusetts. The Cape is a land mass that is separated from the mainland by a canal with two bridges. Eleven of 13 municipalities on Cape Cod have agreed to eliminate the purchase of single-use plastic bottled beverages by town governments and prohibit the sale of beverages in single-use plastic containers on town property (Municipal Ban).
This Fall the goal is to ask voters in all municipalities to vote to for a Commercial Ban on single-plastic water bottles (under 1 gallon). Such a ban would eliminate the commercial sale of non-carbonated, unflavored water in single-use plastic water bottles.
Post by Gary Riccio on Jul 16, 2020 5:40:36 GMT -5
California is the First State to Define and Regulate Microplastics (link)
After defining microplastics, SB 1422 requires that a standard methodology for testing drinking water for microplastics be developed by July 1, 2021. Once a methodology is selected, the State Water Board must adopt requirements for four years of testing of California drinking water and public disclosure of the findings.
[Regulation starts with deliberation about definition and measurement, if not with the science of science itself, within the scientific community that must translate to the engineering community and ultimately to the legislative and legal communities.]
Policy makers and scientists need to work together to effectively implement California’s regulations and address the many challenges associated with microplastics in the environment.
[All the communities involved in public health and safety surveillance and in crafting system-level solutions are points of entry for influence by citizen action.]
Post by Kent Wittenburg on Aug 17, 2020 9:58:54 GMT -5
Congressional memo provides blueprint to reduce plastic pollution
U.S. Sen. Tom Udall of New Mexico and U.S. Rep. Alan Lowenthal of California circulated a memo Tuesday to state legislative offices around the country. The document encourages lawmakers to draw from their Break Free From Plastic Pollution Act to effectively reduce plastic pollution and packaging waste at the state and municipal levels. U.S. PIRG worked closely with the offices of Sen. Udall, Rep. Lowenthal and others to develop the legislation, which includes bans of some of the most harmful single-use plastics and requires plastic producers to take responsibility for waste they create. It remains the most comprehensive approach to reducing plastic pollution ever introduced in the U.S. Congress.
“The Break Free From Plastic Pollution Act assembled our best policies to reduce plastic pollution at the source,” says Alex Truelove, U.S. PIRG’s Zero Waste Campaign director. “Now, the full blueprint is available for state and local leaders, many of whom contributed to the process, to take the actions recommended at the federal level. With this comprehensive model, we can effectively reduce the amount of disposable plastic in our lives and hold producers responsible for the problematic waste they create."
Post by Kent Wittenburg on Oct 27, 2020 10:58:57 GMT -5
Progress on Extended Producer Responsibility
Dorie and I are reading the Waste Dive newsletter, which is quite interesting as an inside-the-industry view of waste management. Today's article was about recent progress on extended producer responsibility, which has now become an acronym: EPR. EPR is the holy grail of much thinking of how to solve the plastics waste problem, since it has to be addressed by the producers who economically benefit from producing plastics that are priced in the market without any recognition of true cost to the environment, to human health, and to municipal economies that have to deal with the waste. There has been much discussion about EPR legislation in the industry, which seems to be waking up to the fact that legislation is inevitable. Not a lot of actual legislation passed yet, but it seems to coming. As for Massachusetts, there was this report:
...Other states weighing EPR include Massachusetts, which had two product stewardship bills under consideration in its latest session, H750 and H745.