The World Plastic Craze is Epidemic and needs to stop

Little Giant 554405 VCMA-15 non-submersible condensate pump, removed from black base. Output tube, pump intake and impeller (large round part). You can see the impeller shaft through the intake windows.

Little Giant 554405 VCMA-15 non-submersible condensate pump, removed from black base. Output tube, pump intake and impeller (large round part). You can see the impeller shaft through the intake windows.

Even the most elementary animals do not defecate where they live. Even so, their scat is biodegradable and is quickly transformed to base organic waste by microbes. This is natural. Man, on the other hand, has created a remarkable material: plastic. Remarkable, yes, but it is inorganic and as it does not break down to an organic waste, it is polluting the earth and mankind. Ironically, we are eating our own waste.

Plastics are remarkable. Waterproof, pretty strong, shapeable into whatever we wish, it is a modern material that is highly adaptable. Its popularity is indeed part of the problem. In our race for convenience we have used plastic in new ways that now displaces products that could be made from organic materials.

The problem is that plastics break down to smaller pieces but still remain as plastics. As plastics are inorganic there is no way to remove them from our planet. As they break down they are ever more difficult to control and remove. These micro-particles are then mistakenly eaten by small organisms, which are then carried up the food chain by ever larger animals. Eventually they are eaten by man. That we eat plastics should concern us, as we do not know of the long-term effects. Indeed our grandparents have never had this problem. This is a problem for the last two generations, which we will pass on to the next generation, our kids. Our oceans are suffering. Recycling is often difficult.

It does look like a great majority of our plastics are not recyclable at all. These must then be buried in landfill, possibly polluting our ground water.

This problem needs a solution before it gets much worse. Our addiction to plastic needs to be curtailed, but how?

Charge a disposal fee for all plastics
What makes plastics so compelling is that consumers do not pay for the disposal of the residual plastic. This makes their initial cost much lower. It is the city municipality, state or country that pays for the disposal, long after the consumer throws out the product. It is this discrepancy of who buys the plastic product and who disposes the product that we need to narrow. Municipalities run using tax payer money, so in the end we all pay for plastic disposal. What should really happen is that those that use plastic the most should pay more for their disposal.

Do not use plastics for products that can be made by organic materials
Plastic bags were once ubiquitous here in Toronto. We once had a ban on plastic bags, but unfortunately this was overturned. We now have a voluntary plastic bag charge at many stores, which has cut down on the plastic bags blown by the wind and then stuck in trees. There is nothing more disconcerting that to see a lovely and natural tree with a bunch of plastic bags caught on the upper limbs.

Bags can be made of organic materials such as cloth or paper. These easily and quickly break down to organic material, so their disposal costs are minimal. Plastic bags can be made cheaper but do not include their disposal costs. This puts these costs on the backs of tax payers. We should make every effort to include all manufacturing, transportation and disposal costs in each product, plastic or organic.

I particularly look forward to this recyclable water bottle

Reuse Plastic Products
In some cases plastic is the best material. In order to reduce unnecessary disposal these plastic products should be robustly made. Low quality plastic products that are disposable should be minimized, as their disposal costs are quite high.

It will be difficult to come to a world consensus on the plastic problem. I believe that mankind needs to poison ourselves and suffer health consequences before we are motivated to find a solution to this problem. Today I just do not see any social will nor political movement on this issue.

In the future we will see that plastics do negatively affect our health. Currently there is insufficient evidence to convince people we have a problem. Until we have sufficient evidence it will be difficult to convince ourselves to reduce or near eliminate our dependence on plastics.

Addendum 2018 June 02 Why Chile is banning plastic bags at retail businesses: Chile gives large retailers and supermarkets 6 months, and small/medium sized shops 2 years

2018 june 03 Sick whale with dozens of plastic bags in stomach dies

2018 June 04 Dear Canadians, your addiction to plastic needs a cure: here is more talk at high levels all without addressing the root of the problem, that we Canadians are addicted to single-use plastics. This does not tackle personal consumption.

Canada has said it plans to make plastics one of the key themes at the Group of Seven leaders’ summit in Charlevoix, Que., next week, and last fall, Canada signed on to the United Nations Clean Seas campaign, launched in February, 2017, to draw public attention to the enormous amounts of garbage that are ending up in the world’s oceans. Canada has even committed as much as $2-billion to ocean protection, including vital initiatives such as increasing the amount of protected marine areas…

Solutions to the plastic problem are twofold. First, there is the removal of the plastics currently overwhelming our oceans. Second – and, I believe, most importantly – we must stop plastics from getting into the oceans in the first place…

Canadians also lead the developed world in per-capita production of garbage.

Yes, it’s true, when it comes to absolute consumerism excess and waste, Canadians are the current worldwide gold standard, generating 720 kilograms per capita of waste annually. That’s estimated to be twice that of Japan, and 7 per cent higher per capita than the United States.

2018 June 05 A garbage truck in the sea every minute of every day: can plastic-loving Asia pull itself out of its ocean pollution crisis?

2018 Jun 20 111 million tonnes of plastic waste will have nowhere to go by 2030 due to Chinese import ban: study

2016 Global Import and Export of Plastic Waste:  the cumulative trade of plastic waste in 2016. (Lindsay Robinson, University of Georgia)

2016 Global Import and Export of Plastic Waste: the cumulative trade of plastic waste in 2016. (Lindsay Robinson, University of Georgia)

It is interesting to note that the developing countries have so much less of a plastic problem but also have multiple times the number of people. Note population differences when looking at this graph:

Canada 32M Thailand 69M Indonesia 261M Philippines 103M South Korea 51M
Multiples of Canada
2.2 8.2 3.2 1.6

It is very clear that Canada is a very wasteful user of plastics.

2019 Nov 04 The World Is Stuck With Decades of New Plastic It Can’t Recycle
We’ve been hoodwinked into thinking recycling is a solution.
Quartz, by Zoë Schlanger

As it stands, the companies that make plastic are not responsible for the end of life of their product. Neither are the companies that use the plastic to make or package their own products. Instead, the cost of collecting, sorting, and recycling plastic is borne by taxpayers.

…Since opposition to plastic pollution began during the dawn of the environmental movement in the 1960s, the plastic and packaging industries have been fighting to make their products without absorbing the cost of cleaning it up. Since they don’t currently bear those costs, companies continue to design packaging—multi-layered chip bags, multi-part plastic juice boxes—that can’t be recycled at all. Meanwhile, they’ve poured resources into messaging campaigns that blame pollution on bad consumer habits.

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