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wild_turkey

Plastic waste in the environment

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Saw a segment on 60 Minutes a few months ago about the plastic waste accumulating in the oceans and this Dutch guy, Boyan Slat, who is attempting to clean it up with a barrier system. There seems to be some debate in the scientific community about whether or not his ideas will actually help. For anyone interested, their website is here:

https://theoceancleanup.com/

Saw an update on 60 Minutes a couple weeks ago that talked about the progress of The Ocean Cleanup project, but also gave a more comprehensive look at plastic waste. Apparently the U.S. was shipping plastic to China for recycling, but China recently closed the doors on that. The U.S. is now shipping plastic to other Asian countries such as Vietnam and Malaysia. No one seemed to know if those countries are actually recycling it or if they are simply dumping it. The implication is that a lot of dumping is happening, and that much of that goes into the oceans. Look up the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Much of it is also ending up on beaches and being eaten by birds and other wildlife. They showed some examples from the Midway Islands.

Maybe I've been naive about the recycling industry, but I like to think that I am doing the right thing by putting a plastic bottle in my blue recycle bin instead of the regular trash. It's disheartening to think the end result of that is my plastic bottle gets shipped across the ocean for some other country to merely throw it into the ocean (or even into a landfill for that matter).

What's the consensus on this problem and how severe is it? As a society we are dependent on plastic and cannot separate ourselves from it. Maybe I could cut back on buying drinks that come in plastic bottles, but certain items only come in plastic packaging and that packaging has to go somewhere when the product is gone. Is there a solution for this? Does legislating (no cloak room) plastic bags or plastic straws make a bit of difference?

Also, what's the environmental effect of other products such as aluminum cans and glass bottles? If a person is hypothetically buying a Coke for instance, does it make a big difference what type of container they choose?

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1 hour ago, wild_turkey said:

but I like to think that I am doing the right thing by putting a plastic bottle in my blue recycle bin instead of the regular trash. It's disheartening to think the end result of that is my plastic bottle gets shipped across the ocean for some other country to merely throw it into the ocean (or even into a landfill for that matter).

Yeah, that's the thing - say that plastic bottle is recycled, but it's done in Asia - how much in fossil fuels, etc. were used to get that plastic bottle to where it's recycled?  There doesn't seem to be a good middle-ground if it's having to be transported all the way to Asia (or Africa).

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1 hour ago, wild_turkey said:

Saw a segment on 60 Minutes a few months ago about the plastic waste accumulating in the oceans and this Dutch guy, Boyan Slat, who is attempting to clean it up with a barrier system. There seems to be some debate in the scientific community about whether or not his ideas will actually help. For anyone interested, their website is here:

https://theoceancleanup.com/

Saw an update on 60 Minutes a couple weeks ago that talked about the progress of The Ocean Cleanup project, but also gave a more comprehensive look at plastic waste. Apparently the U.S. was shipping plastic to China for recycling, but China recently closed the doors on that. The U.S. is now shipping plastic to other Asian countries such as Vietnam and Malaysia. No one seemed to know if those countries are actually recycling it or if they are simply dumping it. The implication is that a lot of dumping is happening, and that much of that goes into the oceans. Look up the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Much of it is also ending up on beaches and being eaten by birds and other wildlife. They showed some examples from the Midway Islands.

Maybe I've been naive about the recycling industry, but I like to think that I am doing the right thing by putting a plastic bottle in my blue recycle bin instead of the regular trash. It's disheartening to think the end result of that is my plastic bottle gets shipped across the ocean for some other country to merely throw it into the ocean (or even into a landfill for that matter).

What's the consensus on this problem and how severe is it? As a society we are dependent on plastic and cannot separate ourselves from it. Maybe I could cut back on buying drinks that come in plastic bottles, but certain items only come in plastic packaging and that packaging has to go somewhere when the product is gone. Is there a solution for this? Does legislating (no cloak room) plastic bags or plastic straws make a bit of difference?

Also, what's the environmental effect of other products such as aluminum cans and glass bottles? If a person is hypothetically buying a Coke for instance, does it make a big difference what type of container they choose?

Seems stupidly inefficient to ship large quantities of recyclables to foreign countries when we could recycle it ourselves, especially if there is reason to believe it is being dumped. We can't legislate or control what other countries do, so it is pointless to try

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Plastic recycling is a BS panacea that only makes people feel better about using it, and more effort should be put into reducing and reusing. 

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Disheartening indeed, but not surprising, be it local, state or federal, they're so full of shit. 

I've been completely ignorant towards recycling until about a year ago. I recycle everything now (or so I thought), even taking the plastic rings off the bottles, rinsing out containers. 

In this past year of recycling,  I'm floored at how much plastic we use. Its every fucking thing. Now I wonder, is it best I keep doing this or is the lesser of the two evils to have all the plastic go to the landfill?

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8 minutes ago, Dewey said:

In this past year of recycling,  I'm floored at how much plastic we use. Its every fucking thing. Now I wonder, is it best I keep doing this or is the lesser of the two evils to have all the plastic go to the landfill?

That's one of the things I'm hung up on. It seems insane to ship plastic waste across the world for the same result (recycling or landfill) or worse result (dumped in the ocean). Maybe it makes more sense to stop "recycling" plastic.

Obviously less plastic usage is ideal, but I say that as I drink a Propel from a plastic bottle. And I like Propel and it only comes in plastic bottles. And I go through a gallon of milk and a large bottle of orange juice a week. Hell, half the food (non-produce, non-meat) we buy comes in some form of plastic.

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Plastic waste is disgusting to think about and basically unavoidable. I guess I don't understand why we aren't recycling here in the US. I'm assuming it's related to cost.

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I found this article from The Guardian earlier this year:

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2019/jun/21/us-plastic-recycling-landfills

In total, only about half (56%) of the plastic waste that America once exported is still being accepted by foreign markets in the wake of China’s ban. This week, the Guardian revealed that what still goes overseas is inundating countries including Vietnam, Turkey, Malaysia and Senegal. But much of what remains has nowhere to go.

Analysis of US export records shows that the equivalent of 19,000 shipping containers of plastic recycling per month, once exported abroad, is now stranded at home. This is enough plastic to fill 250 Olympic swimming pools each month.

As municipalities are forced to deal with their own trash instead of exporting it, they are discovering a dismaying fact: much of this plastic is completely unrecyclable.

The issue is with a popular class of plastics that people have traditionally been told to put into their recycling bins – a hodgepodge of items such as clamshell-style food packaging, black plastic trays, take-out containers and cold drink cups, which the industry dubs “mixed plastic”. It has become clear that there are virtually no domestic manufacturers that want to buy this waste in order to turn it into something else.

Take Los Angeles county, the most populous in America. The Guardian has learned that recycling facilities are separating “mixed plastics” from those plastics which still retain value – such as water bottles, laundry detergent bottles and milk jugs – and, contrary to what customers expect, sending them directly to a landfill or incinerator.

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Buy less plastic if you can, throw your single use plastic in the regular trash, recycle the bottles. Also separate glass, paper and styrofoam. 

Where I live, we drive our recyclables to the center and throw our trash into the proper bins. Up to them after that. That wouldnt work in any high population area, lines would be too long

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Refillable glass bottles. Beer and Coke taste better from the glass refillable bottles. Milk, too. I broke numerous returnable glass milk bottles sitting on porches, waiting for the milk man, when I threw newspapers. I learned to be a better shot. Everything used to come in glass, or some sort of durable wax paper container, or thin cardboard containers. No doubt more expensive, but I don't see any other way. 

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We should develop our on recycling infrastructure here.  It's complete bullshit shipping this stuff to 3rd world nations. 

Hopefully this can be an aspect of the GND

 

 

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6 hours ago, wild_turkey said:

Saw a segment on 60 Minutes a few months ago about the plastic waste accumulating in the oceans and this Dutch guy, Boyan Slat, who is attempting to clean it up with a barrier system. There seems to be some debate in the scientific community about whether or not his ideas will actually help. For anyone interested, their website is here:

https://theoceancleanup.com/

Saw an update on 60 Minutes a couple weeks ago that talked about the progress of The Ocean Cleanup project, but also gave a more comprehensive look at plastic waste. Apparently the U.S. was shipping plastic to China for recycling, but China recently closed the doors on that. The U.S. is now shipping plastic to other Asian countries such as Vietnam and Malaysia. No one seemed to know if those countries are actually recycling it or if they are simply dumping it. The implication is that a lot of dumping is happening, and that much of that goes into the oceans. Look up the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Much of it is also ending up on beaches and being eaten by birds and other wildlife. They showed some examples from the Midway Islands.

Maybe I've been naive about the recycling industry, but I like to think that I am doing the right thing by putting a plastic bottle in my blue recycle bin instead of the regular trash. It's disheartening to think the end result of that is my plastic bottle gets shipped across the ocean for some other country to merely throw it into the ocean (or even into a landfill for that matter).

What's the consensus on this problem and how severe is it? As a society we are dependent on plastic and cannot separate ourselves from it. Maybe I could cut back on buying drinks that come in plastic bottles, but certain items only come in plastic packaging and that packaging has to go somewhere when the product is gone. Is there a solution for this? Does legislating (no cloak room) plastic bags or plastic straws make a bit of difference?

Also, what's the environmental effect of other products such as aluminum cans and glass bottles? If a person is hypothetically buying a Coke for instance, does it make a big difference what type of container they choose?

Central America should take over from the Chinese sponsored by private US investment. Less fuel for shipping and they have the sorting man power. It’s certainly a sustainable industry with growth potential. 

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9 hours ago, Not that Bob said:

Refillable glass bottles. Beer and Coke taste better from the glass refillable bottles. Milk, too. I broke numerous returnable glass milk bottles sitting on porches, waiting for the milk man, when I threw newspapers. I learned to be a better shot. Everything used to come in glass, or some sort of durable wax paper container, or thin cardboard containers. No doubt more expensive, but I don't see any other way. 

I could see a slow shift away from single use plastics in first world countries as they can afford it, but developing countries with expanding middle classes will take cheap convenience every time. Look at the demand projections for plastics.

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1 hour ago, Okie State said:

I could see a slow shift away from single use plastics in first world countries as they can afford it, but developing countries with expanding middle classes will take cheap convenience every time. Look at the demand projections for plastics.

I see your point, but the shift from returnable to plastic was not a "slow shift". It happened in a time span of about 50 years, a rapid shift in terms of something this pervasive. Prior to that shift, all countries, first world and developing, lived without plastic containers. I do understand that "forcing" that shift, back to returnables,  would be darn near impossible...here and abroad. The big picture is that there are too many people on this earth. We need a good plague, and I say that knowing that the olds, like me, would be some of the first to go. 

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14 hours ago, Dewey said:

. Now I wonder, is it best I keep doing this or is the lesser of the two evils to have all the plastic go to the landfill?

just burn em...

macro_plastic_fire13.jpg

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15 hours ago, immortal13 said:

Seems stupidly inefficient to ship large quantities of recyclables to foreign countries when we could recycle it ourselves, especially if there is reason to believe it is being dumped. We can't legislate or control what other countries do, so it is pointless to try

Is there really much demand for recycled plastic? 

Until someone can prove that plastic is actually being recycled, I think we should basically stop it. I wouldn't be surprised if containers of old plastic "accidentally" fall off ships going to Vietnam. And almost assuredly, they are just winding up in a Vietnam landfill, if they do make it across the ocean. I don't see how my plastic Starbucks cup could be worth anything being recycled across the world.   I can understand steel or some electronics having value but not plastic.  

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We just need some really huge nets, and some really huge balloons to lift said nets into space. Maybe task SpaceX with the job to put everything in orbit beyond where it’d affect satellites. Over time, we might even get the added benefit of a mild sunscreen around parts of the planet. Win-win for global warming!

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1 hour ago, Nice Guy Eddie said:

Is there really much demand for recycled plastic? 

Until someone can prove that plastic is actually being recycled, I think we should basically stop it. I wouldn't be surprised if containers of old plastic "accidentally" fall off ships going to Vietnam. And almost assuredly, they are just winding up in a Vietnam landfill, if they do make it across the ocean. I don't see how my plastic Starbucks cup could be worth anything being recycled across the world.   I can understand steel or some electronics having value but not plastic.  

I have no idea, honestly. But if it is valueless, then it makes even less sense to ship it thousands of miles away only to be dumped in the ocean 

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What is plastic recycling?  Is it like glass and paper where they are able breaking it down to a raw material to make more plastic, or is it simply trying to find someone that wants a bunch of used water bottles to repurpose

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One of the issues with returnables is the weight. It takes more fuel to ship them. They also can't be compressed like plastic bottles that are being recycled, so it takes more trips to return the same number of glass bottles to the bottling facility than it takes to take plastic bottles to a recycler. Aluminium cans are really better than both, because the impurities just get burned off when they are melted. 

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1 minute ago, Gene Parmesan said:

What is plastic recycling?  Is it like glass and paper where they are able breaking it down to a raw material to make more plastic, or is it simply trying to find someone that wants a bunch of used water bottles to repurpose

Paper doesn't really get recycled that well. The fibers break down and result in a lower grade paper than you started with. That's why you see labels that say this bag contains 85% recycled paper or something like that. You have to mix some virgin fiber in there to give it strength, and even then you can't make high grade stuff.

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7 minutes ago, NotActuallyALonghorn said:

Paper doesn't really get recycled that well. The fibers break down and result in a lower grade paper than you started with. That's why you see labels that say this bag contains 85% recycled paper or something like that. You have to mix some virgin fiber in there to give it strength, and even then you can't make high grade stuff.

Same with plastic, only more so.  Most formulations only contain 15-30% recycled.

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I saw this rather large sea turtle, shell probably would have had a diameter of a meter or so that had gotten a six pack ring around itself when it was young, and the shell had been constricted as it grew so its shell actually looked like a figure 8. The constriction in the middle was as big as the ring. Horrible and freaky looking.

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2 minutes ago, High Plains Drifter said:

I saw this rather large sea turtle, shell probably would have had a diameter of a meter or so that had gotten a six pack ring around itself when it was young, and the shell had been constricted as it grew so its shell actually looked like a figure 8. The constriction in the middle was as big as the ring. Horrible and freaky looking.

These stories are horrific but I think the bigger problem are with animals that ingest plastics. A sea bird eats a chunk of plastic that won't break down in its stomach and is too large to move through its digestive tract. The result is a build up of plastic in its stomach that will kill it especially as more plastic is ingested.

 

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14 minutes ago, High Plains Drifter said:

I saw this rather large sea turtle, shell probably would have had a diameter of a meter or so that had gotten a six pack ring around itself when it was young, and the shell had been constricted as it grew so its shell actually looked like a figure 8. The constriction in the middle was as big as the ring. Horrible and freaky looking.

Yea I have seen of those videos before. Not good at all. 

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Much of the world, certainly the developed countries, have potable water, essentially on demand. Get a glass. Hold it under the tap. Get a drink. I remain amazed at the people who simply must carry a plastic bottle of water with them at all times. My wife is one. I finally went to REI and bought her some non BPA, hippy dippy, love Mother Earth water bottles to carry...which she does...at all times. Of course we use copious amounts of water to wash and reuse these earth friendly bottles. 

I understand the weight involved in transporting glass reusables, hence my statement that we need a good plague.

Drink. Fucking. Tap Water!!

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Every semester I ask the question to very smart students, "What percentage of plastics contain fossil fuels/hyrdrocarbons?  none, some, or most?"  Every fucking class answers either NONE or SOME.  Blows my mind.  

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13 minutes ago, Not that Bob said:

Much of the world, certainly the developed countries, have potable water, essentially on demand. Get a glass. Hold it under the tap. Get a drink. I remain amazed at the people who simply must carry a plastic bottle of water with them at all times. My wife is one. I finally went to REI and bought her some non BPA, hippy dippy, love Mother Earth water bottles to carry...which she does...at all times. Of course we use copious amounts of water to wash and reuse these earth friendly bottles. 

I understand the weight involved in transporting glass reusables, hence my statement that we need a good plague.

Drink. Fucking. Tap Water!!

It seems like it's in every facet of life.  If no one with access to clean water bought another water bottle would it even scratch the surface? 

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8 minutes ago, Lobo said:

Every semester I ask the question to very smart students, "What percentage of plastics contain fossil fuels/hyrdrocarbons?  none, some, or most?"  Every fucking class answers either NONE or SOME.  Blows my mind.  

Are these college students?  If so, God help us. They are the ones that are going to be fixing this. Not a good start if what you say is true. 

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21 hours ago, immortal13 said:

Seems stupidly inefficient to ship large quantities of recyclables to foreign countries when we could recycle it ourselves, especially if there is reason to believe it is being dumped. We can't legislate or control what other countries do, so it is pointless to try

Supposedly, when it first started, these things were transported on tankers that would have otherwise gone back empty. 

***

I too used to wonder if recycling was worth it.  The answer is: there is no universal answer.

We've heard of supposed recycling collections, being co-mingled with general trash at its collection, and stuffed in a landfill all the same.  It depends on what your municipality does with them.  Everyone needs to do a little digging and see how that stuff is sorted and treated where they live. 

Sometimes, it truly is better that your coke bottle gets buried at the nearby landfill, than shipped to Malaysia and buried in *their* landfill.  Or worse, get dumped in the ocean.

My city also has incineration plant, so atleast all the general refuse get burned and converted into energy.

So whether recycling is effective depends where you live.  At the very least, what every individual could do is simply reduce consumption.

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59 minutes ago, Not that Bob said:

Much of the world, certainly the developed countries, have potable water, essentially on demand. Get a glass. Hold it under the tap. Get a drink. I remain amazed at the people who simply must carry a plastic bottle of water with them at all times. My wife is one. I finally went to REI and bought her some non BPA, hippy dippy, love Mother Earth water bottles to carry...which she does...at all times. Of course we use copious amounts of water to wash and reuse these earth friendly bottles. 

I understand the weight involved in transporting glass reusables, hence my statement that we need a good plague.

Drink. Fucking. Tap Water!!

I absolutely cannot stand the bottled water trend. My Dad is one of those who goes through several a day at his own house and I just can't understand it.

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1 hour ago, Not that Bob said:

Much of the world, certainly the developed countries, have potable water, essentially on demand. Get a glass. Hold it under the tap. Get a drink. I remain amazed at the people who simply must carry a plastic bottle of water with them at all times. My wife is one. I finally went to REI and bought her some non BPA, hippy dippy, love Mother Earth water bottles to carry...which she does...at all times. Of course we use copious amounts of water to wash and reuse these earth friendly bottles. 

I understand the weight involved in transporting glass reusables, hence my statement that we need a good plague.

Drink. Fucking. Tap Water!!

people aren't even aware that 20 oz single-serve water was barely even a thing until the late 90s when coke and pepsi got into it. 

 

 

 

also, in more depressing plastic pollution news:

https://www.sciencealert.com/a-strange-plasticrust-pollution-is-appearing-embedded-on-shoreline-rocks

Edited by elfenix

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22 hours ago, atomheartbevo said:

Yeah, that's the thing - say that plastic bottle is recycled, but it's done in Asia - how much in fossil fuels, etc. were used to get that plastic bottle to where it's recycled?  There doesn't seem to be a good middle-ground if it's having to be transported all the way to Asia (or Africa).

I think originally the idea was that the barges bringing cheap Chinese shit here were largely returning empty so plastics could be shipped using the excess capacity. So the net fossil fuel usage was somewhat considered neutral. 

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was watching some show on TV about this and even when you actually recycle the plastic and get decent yield, that recycled plastic can really only be used for 1 more round of molding or whatever they do.  It's not perpetual thing.  so even in a perfect scenario, you cannot get much repeated use from recycled plastic.

every bit helps, but as destroya said earlier, plastic recycling is a distraction to keep people from feeling bad about consuming single use plastic items and then throwing them away  'recycling them'.  At this point it might make sense to not recycle but just collect it all and maybe melt it down and compress it and then bury it or something.  Just so it takes up less space and keeps it out of the ocean.

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36 minutes ago, gyroprotagonist said:

was watching some show on TV about this and even when you actually recycle the plastic and get decent yield, that recycled plastic can really only be used for 1 more round of molding or whatever they do.  It's not perpetual thing.  so even in a perfect scenario, you cannot get much repeated use from recycled plastic.

every bit helps, but as destroya said earlier, plastic recycling is a distraction to keep people from feeling bad about consuming single use plastic items and then throwing them away  'recycling them'.  At this point it might make sense to not recycle but just collect it all and maybe melt it down and compress it and then bury it or something.  Just so it takes up less space and keeps it out of the ocean.

Need to figure out how to turn it into building materials more efficiently.  

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1 hour ago, Lobo said:

Every semester I ask the question to very smart students, "What percentage of plastics contain fossil fuels/hyrdrocarbons?  none, some, or most?"  Every fucking class answers either NONE or SOME.  Blows my mind.  

It's all branding. No one wants a hydrocarbon bottle.

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I'm doing my part. Kid had a birthday party in the park a few weeks back. Hot as fuck. Instead of a bunch of iced down bottled waters, I dumped half a bag of ice into one of these badboys, filled with water, and bought a hundred little paper cups. 

 

42316-5-gallon-seat-top-water-jug-withou

 

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1 hour ago, High Plains Drifter said:

I'm doing my part. Kid had a birthday party in the park a few weeks back. Hot as fuck. Instead of a bunch of iced down bottled waters, I dumped half a bag of ice into one of these badboys, filled with water, and bought a hundred little paper cups. 

 

42316-5-gallon-seat-top-water-jug-withou

 

Why do you hate trees?

 

Kids should be putting their mouth under that thing like drinking from a garden hose

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