Just like the classic "blame the user" mentality, the users were given an impossibly complex system with barely any incentive to get it right. Nothing about the interface is intuitive or discoverable.
The creators of all this garbage do so because it's profitable. They can create disposable and single use items, in thousands of variations, out of materials that create hundreds of years of environmental impact, and none of that consequence comes back to their bottom line. They'll happily point the finger all day long at us stupid users and inept local governments and bad China, as long as it all distracts from their culpability.
If we forced all producers of trash to account for its safe reuse, recycling or disposal as part of the cost of doing business, this problem would disappear quickly. Because here's the thing, the bill always comes due. If we let them skip out on it, then we will be the ones who pay.
Case in point: Blue Apron. Blue Apron positioned itself as one of the more "recycle-friendly" food delivery services to try and fight the stigma against every delivery having bags upon bags of individually wrapped goods by providing recycling services. As a former Blue Apron customer, I loved that I could separate stuff out (hard plastic, soft plastic, paper, etc.) and throw away anything that touched raw meat and just send it back to them in the same cardboard box I received it in.
Blue Apron then cancelled their recycling services and now just redirects people to do it themselves because "recycling is hard". Now, the number of people that will actually recycle will drop further and Blue Apron doesn't have to change its operations one iota. I cancelled my subscription as soon as they removed the recycling options because they wanted to put the blame on the end user instead of themselves for producing all that waste in the first place.
There is a solution here. Until it's financially incentivized for them to find it, though, we'll be stuck here creating more and more waste.
Given that they require air mailing boxes full of (mostly, by weight) frozen liquids all over the place on a weekly basis, I'm not convinced that these meal kit services can ever be made sustainable. Compared to that cost, worrying about recycling and whether their food suppliers are organic or not seems like it's probably just bikeshedding.
It might be cool to see what a company like Imperfect Produce could come up with in this space.
Terra’s Kitchen, in addition to using non-disposable, durable vessels and cold packs that you return, also pre-chops and pre-preps many of the ingredients so meal prep and cleanup is truly 20-30 mins, which is half the time (or less) than Blue Apron.
Here are the vessels they use: https://www.terraskitchen.com/how-it-works/
I stull preffer to select mu goods by myself, it's well spent time away from the keyboard stress and I get to decide how much waste I want to produce by using my 10 year old cotton bags and let the fruit and veggies use their own packaging, that is anyway best for freshness.
Our experience thus far has been that the produce sometimes has some cosmetic issues, but as often as not the only thing wrong with it is that it's just not the size that consumers typically expect, or the distributor just had excess stock. The food is almost always fresher, because it's coming straight from the distributor rather than sitting around on supermarket shelves for a while before you buy it.
Transporting ingredients in bulk to the DCs is more efficient than transporting a bunch of individually packaged and individually cooked meal kits.
1. Buy real food and cook it
2. Grow food or contribute to local co-op or farms
3. Make stuff you use all the time
4. Bring your own containers/bags
Usually these are the only options for a lot of things. But there are other cases where just having consumers fed up with companies like in the case above you can shift market incentives with your choice. Lush is a good example of this for instance.
It's a combined effort, you have to not be lazy and actually care about the choices you are making with where you spend your money and companies will respond to the demand. Sometimes it takes more effort, or you can just not buy X and see if you can either make your own alternative or not need X at all.
There are tons and tons of homemade things you can do to eliminate waste by just making it yourself. I've found it generally comes to a few constant categories where I generally produce the most waste.
- Food + Beverages
Sure there are the other areas where I produce trash, but those two categories are the ones where waste is produced every single day so the impact is a lot higher. The solution is relatively straightforward, make more things by hand or purchase goods closer to raw form (Lush seems to be a great example of one that can replace just about all of my hygenic material waste). And second, make more recipes by hand closer to the raw material ingredients and bring your own containers.
I eat out once a fortnight for dinner and once a week for lunch, and cook the rest of the time. The vast majority of what I buy is fresh food (fruit, vegetables, some small amounts of dairy, meat and pulses). Everything I buy is packaged in single use plastics. My lunch today, the tomatoes came in a cardboard box that was wrapped in plastic, the cucumber was shrink wrapped, the pitta breads came individually wrapped. There are two supermarkets I can choose from and both of them suffer the same problem. All the meat comes in disposable trays with a film covering, and a plastic inlet. Technically the tray is recyclable if I remove the meat and the inside tray and wash it, but my recycling services won't accept it in case it's contaminated by food.
My plastic toothpaste container comes in a cardboard box. My biodegradable bin liners come with a plastic wrapper to protect them.
This isn't something that I can fix, I don't have the option to buy unpackaged goods, or to provide my own containers.
* Just about all produce/fruit is available without plastic wrapping (except for berries I've found, which is quite annoying). I think the only non-plastic option here is to just try and grow the fruit yourself. Or otherwise take the plastic and grind it into pellets to use for something else. There's some neat stuff related to this. I've also seen this as an option for most local farmers:
* Meat is next to impossible for this, but I've found meat available raw in paper wrapping when you get it in some places. This is usually in a place like Whole Foods, but even then the meat comes in a plastic covering like you mention.
I totally see what you're saying, I think I'm just looking at areas where large quantities of everyday plastic waste is avoidable. For instance, when eating out it's not unheard to bring your own container for leftovers instead of having them give you a styrofoam container for the food. And of course I say all this also realizing that a lot of people might not have access to all this ^ :(
> Just about all produce/fruit is available without plastic wrapping
Maybe if you're shopping in farmers markets. I shop in high street supermarkets, and it _isn't_ available. I have a choice of buying a 1kg bag of onions, or not buying onions. I can buy a 3 pack of bell peppers, or not buy bell peppers. I can buy a 6 pack of Golden Delicious apples, or I can not buy apples. I do try and buy less packaging, but unfortunately the odds are stacked against me.
 - https://uk.lush.com/products/tooth-fairy
Anwyay, even in the fruit & vegetable shop, most of people pick small plastic bags to put and weight the food. I am one of the few ones that puts everything on the same bag.
They eventually shut down the food part of their business to sell their food business software to other businesses, so we started using Sun Basket. Everything they send is locally recyclable, though I wonder how many people do it. I'm thinking of canceling because they've started including ads for unrelated stuff in their shipments. (This week some meal was "sponsored by" some stupid movie that comes out next week. Ugh.) Other than that, I've been fairly happy with their work.
But at least they tried! I feel bad picking on Blue Apron when single using plastic water bottles are everywhere.
"We recommend cutting the ice pack open and disposing of the gel in the trash. You can then recycle on your own or send back to us!" 
Yes, you take the stuff out of the freezer pack bag and put it into a new bag, and recycle the old bag. Where does the new bag go? In the trash.
I'm all for environmental awareness - but it's a bit like the people saying, oh, why do you not use re-usable containers for everything, or do you really need to dishwash everything?
Things like food safety, and not making your customers sick are enshrined in law - and that's a good thing.
Even at my work, they aren't allowed to re-serve/re-heat things that have been served once, due to cross-contamination.
You don't! Unless you have flies and cockroaches infested kitchen, some stray bacteria left after just water-washing will be much less harmful than eating the stuck-on-surface dishsoap (which does not rinse off completely, since it's hydrophobic). I have an even worse opinion of people constantly bleaching their countertops. shudder
As an anecdote, I once had a misfortune of living with a guy who would never rinse off the dishsoap from the dishes at all, just leave them out to dry still covered in suds!
That's like saying, increasing the risk of crashing a car is OK, because we'll have airbags.
What I'm saying is (unless you're PETA), the welfare and safety of your fellow human beings will trump most other things.
Further reading: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/travel-truths/truth-about...
They’re not that sensitive, though, and the symptoms are ambiguous.
Is all the food air sealed?
The reason is that if the item is cold (especially right above freezing) you don't need much pressure to get CO2 to dissolve.
The food was weird it was all tingly and fizzy on the tongue. Kind of like the flavor of flat seltzer.
The theory supports ars. Calculate before you downvote.
It is really noticeable in drinks with direct exposure to all that gas and ice. Solid food in a box? I don’t have as much experience with that, so I’m not sure.
Rant: the solution is to learn how to read a recipe and cook without a paint by numbers erector set that has an unreasonable packaging:food ratio.
I’m fine with these services as a ‘gateway drug’ to independently cooking for yourself, but they’re insane as a long term thing.
(Not to mention that I have no idea how they stay viable in the long term, given their customer acquisition costs. If anyone makes it work in the long term it will be Amazon/Whole Foods.)
Convenience is the major factor but there are all kinds of pros to the Blue Apron service that I would continue to benefit from if it wasn't just for the incredibly wasteful packaging and processing. If they just shipped all that stuff without all the wrapping, I'd be fine with that. I've done farm boxes before that didn't need all the plastic.
Yes, it is great to keep your faucet off if you aren't using it. And yes, if enough people keep theirs off, it will make a big impact on water waste.
But as an individual, or a neighborhood, you will never waste as much as factory farms, chemical processing, and many other industries.
Add to it the fact that these companies produce these products, with these wasteful systems, to maintain profit margins so that they can enrich themselves.
If they were making them and breaking even, not paying themselves much. Like if it was a government run industry, and the demand was just so high for this shitty wasteful thing, maybe then you could blame the consumer.
But those who take the most profit accept responsibility.
That's the only thing I take issue with here. Characterizing this as intentional misconduct muddies the waters. The line between cutting costs and benefiting from an increased share price is long and winding. Don't blame people; examine systems.
Where most of the money goes is back to keeping costs low for consumers, the same ones that are conscientiously keeping the tap water off.
Strongly disagree with that assessment; viewing systems as solely the product of individual decisions is like viewing your brain solely as the product of the movement of individual atoms. You lose all predictive capability. If you do something immoral, is there some group of cells or atoms that I can directly 'assign blame' to?
A more nuanced and honest view would be to observe that certain structures predictably result in the some consequences, often regardless of the initial beliefs, desires, or moral righteousness of the individuals caught within them.
Sometimes the only way to change the outcome is to change the large-scale structure and incentives within the system. We can do that by changing laws, regulations, and also sometimes by naming and shaming certain individuals; but first we have to admit that systems do have 'a mind of their own'.
I do agree that carefully structured incentives and disincentives are the thing that can lead to the best outcomes.
Seminal systems theorist Donella Meadows mentioned in an excellent talk that she (and other "systems thinkers") tends to avoid blame entirely, due to understanding the constraints and incentives people operate under.
 Timecode to her comments: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HuIoego-xVc&t=12m55s
Start of her talk: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HMmChiLZZHg&t=7m03s
This is exactly what I'm talking about. Capitalism is basically a force of nature, like evolution. Claiming anyone can orchestrate it is analogous to intelligent design.
I do agree that we all, and leaders more than most, bear responsibility to improve the system. But don't overestimate the capacity of any one person. If it were that easy to control complex systems, Obama would have closed Guantanamo.
It's instructive to compare Obama's Guantanamo promise to his successor's tariff and bigotry promises. There are far fewer intellectual objections to closing Guantanamo than there are e.g. to starting trade wars with allies or making racism the national immigration policy, and also it's unambiguously the ethical thing to do. Still, one leader is keeping his awful promises while the other couldn't keep his good ones.
And don't give me the "politics" crap. Democrats lost ground in every legislature in the nation, starting two years into Obama's administration and continuing into the present election cycle during which they will lose even more.  Whatever goal was supported by breaking his promise, it wasn't getting Democrats elected.
 Remember, once Republicans control 34 state houses (32 now) they can start passing whatever awful Constitutional amendments they want! Do you really want our Constitution to have something about who can use which public restroom? Because this total electoral ineptitude is how you make that happen... in 2020 we'll all have to vote Libertarian just to keep the Bill of Rights intact.
The way to avoid "an uphill slog" is to just do it, via executive order. Obama knew about executive orders; he signed thousands of them while in office. That's a big reason why his successor has had such fun: while laws can only be changed by new laws, executive orders can be changed by new executive orders. Trump has staff whose only job is cataloging executive orders to overturn.
"National security experts" will tell us that the few hundred poor bastards we still have in the hole are some sort of existential threat to us a decade after we kidnapped them, but they are lying as usual. We are vulnerable to actual vulnerabilities, not random people with adverse sentiments. To lock up everyone who hates USA or the horrible things that USA does, we'd have to lock up about a billion people. To change the world, we must change ourselves.
Speaking more generally, this sclerotic way of thinking is why a cretin like Trump can get so deep inside the OODA loop of his political opponents. When they say "we just can't", it's because they can't find a lobbyist or think tank ghoul to tell them they can. When one considers all the truly awful things various politicians have decided they could do, it's a bit sickening.
As for "force of nature", that just sounds like what someone living under monarchy might say about monarchy, etc. Yes, trading things is very old and very useful, but from that doesn't follow that the whole package including "obfuscating ethical implications" is a "force of nature" (which to me doesn't really read differently than "the will of God" btw)
> But don't overestimate the capacity of any one person.
We're first and foremost talking about personal responsibility. To speak about "the system" we should "improve" while kinda skipping about that is like talking about a beach while ignoring the concept of a grain of sand. The system is the people, the beliefs they have about the world, the other people, and so on. If you take away the people, there is no system. With different people, there is a different system.
Yes, I cannot easily just change the behavior of others. However, I can change mine, and there are a lot of things I declined to do because I value being able to look at myself in the mirror more than temporary material profit. What force of nature? I only saw and see a bunch of mediocre, insecure people who failed to drag me into their games.
When a group of hooligans steals money from a beggar just to be cruel I may not be able or dare to do anything about it. But it's very easy for me to refrain from stealing from a beggar. It's actually way easier for me to refrain from it than to do it. Other people developed differently, probably had different childhoods and so on -- but we still live in the same "system", and "just" behave very differently in it. That matters.
Monarchy is based on social hierarchy, which is literally a force of nature. So there's that.
It's easy for you to not steal, and that's great. Just remember to credit your parents who raised you, a healthy environment of anyone that you grew up in, and the fortune not to be catastrophically impoverished at a young age. I'm not saying your environment could inside you to steal now (I don't know you), but I assure you, a childhood where you were raised in a lawless gang would not have gifted you the same set of moral values.
If you subscribe to the "a fool and his money are soon departed" philosophy, which is essentially like, "well if they want products that destroy the world I will give them that" you are passing the moral accountability buck onto human society in its entirety.
We know that a human is smart, but that people are dumb. We also know that people are responding to norms that they are taught. So you can't teach people to buy your products no matter what with endless advertisements but expect them to change their lives for "the greater good" when your company would literally do anything possible to make a buck.
That's a disproportionate amount of responsibility when "people" as a rule are just doing what they do to get by, but you are doing what you do to get a mansion.
The combination of incentives over the entire system must produce the correct emergent behavior. So, for example, instead of trying to get individuals to voluntarily use less carbon without changing anything else (this will never work), you can educate the public, pressure politicians, and end up with a large-scale carbon tax (although this particular case may be wishful thinking!).
Not every person is smart, nor does that translate into correct behavior. Even herd mentality has limits.
It is not like drywall manufacturing, where the water is tainted and should not be put back into the supply.
It's not usable for drinking water, it is usable for greywater purposes. If you've got a septic system, it'll go through that into the local ground water, if not, it'll go into the septic sewer and eventually to a treatment plant, and from there a river.
If it was originally aquifer water, you've taken (likely) high quality water from a diminishing resource and put it in the environment.
So it depends on where you are.
And from there it goes to the next community downstream.
All paper recycling does is keep paper prices low enough that these people can afford to print these things and force them on every household in a city. Remind me why I should be recycling a renewable resource again? You end up subsidizing marginal paper using businesses, who enjoy cheaper paper prices because of the efforts of millions of people, all because society thinks tree farmers should be paid less.
Isn’t this rather something that market forces demand, i.e. the consumer choosing the cheapest option? Don’t get me wrong, I completely agree with the rest of what you’re saying, I just think that the businesses aren’t as evil as you portray them to be.
In the end, the solution is probably government regulation by subsidizing alternatives and/or a complete ban on disposable plastics. But even then, when considering the planet as a whole, the Western countries are hardly the biggest pollutors, so we need some world-wide collaboration on this.
This is what he means by "externality". The disposable plastic garbage isn't really the cheapest option. It's just that the real cost of all the garbage isn't priced in at market.
I know there is something going on with microplastics or somesuch that I'm not up to date on, but I would have thought that sealing it in a big hole in the ground would be cheap, effective and safe.
A life cycle analysis might hypothetically conclude that landfills are a perfectly sustainable solution to plastic. Unfortunately a lot of this stuff makes it into the ocean instead where it will not biodegrade and will interfere with fisheries and ecosystems. Properly structured economic incentives and laws could solve this problem, as they have solved many problems in the past.
In my town, it'd be cheaper/better for the environment to landfill all the waste instead of sending it overseas to be "recycled." Our city recently prohibited placing cardboard in the trash. Something I would have thought is easily broken down...
Additionally, landfills are expensive to build and run so some municipalities are pushing recycling, composting, etc as a cost saving measure. Less trash into landfill, the longer until we have to build a new one.
Long story short, a landfill is not the same as a compost heap. Compost heaps are routinely turned over and disturbed to ensure that oxygen permeates through to the core of the heap. A landfill, on the other hand, is explicitly designed not to do that, in order to contain potentially hazardous materials that may leach out of the waste contained therein.
At least on its face if you're putting the plastic deep in the ground, from whence it came, maybe that's a decent intermediary solution.
But I would also agree with anyone who says its not sustainable. The amount of waste we produce seems a little insane compared to other creatures on the planet.
It isn't a hill I'm going to fight on, but 'land is a finite resource' has, to me, always meant arable farmland and prime coastal real estate. There is no actual shortage of land. At best, there might be a shortage of prime away-from-water-table-with-less-permeable-rock-surroundings sites that are ideal for landfill - but I doubt that is true.
For example, the deepest mine is about 4km deep, and about half the atmosphere is within 5km of the surface of the earth. Running out of landfill space in that sense is like running out of oxygen. The only limits are transport costs and making sure the landfill is either non-toxic or kept well away from water (which, economically speaking, might be a substantial limit but plastics are clearly quite inert, because we store food in them and they apparently don't degrade).
EDIT But the key point here is that these costs aren't externalities. The people paying for them are the consumers who are buying the plastic. If landfill costs go up, municipalities will start to charge more for waste disposal and consumers will favour products with less packaging.
I very rarely see anyone come in with the attitude of: "Hey, burn all the gas you want once we have the appropriate carbon taxes!"
On the other hand, if the government is selling emission rights then this can model non-linear effects. Then it makes sense to say, "go on, use your rights to the full extent."
It seems to me you're arguing that just because a tax is a blunt tool it shouldn't be used at all. But tax rate doesn't have to be set in stone, it can be adjusted dynamically in a feedback loop.
Competition will always drive companies to produce their widgets at the lowest possible cost and a great way to reduce costs is to externalize them. They will do this to exactly the extent that we allow them. Limits have already been placed on companies in a million ways to get them to play by our rules. If only our legal codes could be as simple as the three laws of robotics...
Let's say you want a plastic bottle to cost 0.1$ more, so that alternative options are considered, and you tax it on the original petroleum and gas processed, what does that represent for the fuel used in a plane?
The problem is that not every use is equal, some are more necessary than others and pricing things by a general tax is not a right solution.
Many countries are banning plastic plates and bags for instance, because their benefit is nearly 0 and their cost is super high because many people just throw them away randomly. On the other hand airplane fuel is not easily replacable right now, so it should probably be taxed less (but still taxed enough to encourage other alternatives to develop).
So really oil should be taxed directly, then you tax plastics above and beyond that as needed. But, you never want to apply discounts for some specific use.
Charge what it costs to clean up, and spend the tax on cleaning it up.
> The problem is that not every use is equal, some are more necessary than others
That's exactly why the price mechanism works - the necessary uses will continue to happen even at a higher price, while the frivolous ones will stop.
Setting aside that even biodegradable trash is harmful to animals, it's ridiculous to absolve people of basic hygiene requirements. If you can haul it in, you can haul it out.
I.e. put a tax on plastic. I'd favor a tax on styrofoam peanuts, for example. Have you ever spilled a bag of them outside? I did once by accident. Spent hours picking them all up one by one as they blew around.
Give me crumpled paper padding any day over those damnable infernal peanuts.
There's no easy way to do that, as long as we don't have a single planetary government, and as long as we have trade. The producers are in one country, the consumers in other countries, and there's no easy way to implement policies like those you advocate. You'd have to implement insanely complex treaties, which the producer countries aren't going to sign on to.
Much easier is for consumer countries to figure out on their own how to deal with the waste effectively. That might require tariffs, but that's something a single county can easily implement.
In the end, I see this as a technical problem. It's entirely possible to create mostly-automated plants which can process waste and recycle it. We already have such plants: you can see them on YouTube. We just need to build a lot more of them.
Leading consumer market governments have been using progressive import controls for many decades to do exactly that. It may not be trivial and it may not be free, but this task is no different in principle from how California's CARB forced carmakers worldwide to adopt more stringent NOx emissions standards, or European regulators forced safer food additives to be used worldwide, or the US FDA forced more stringent drug safety standards worldwide.
Even private companies can be pretty good at this, when someone has to pay for the damage: the IIHS is private (it was formed because NHTSA was not doing as good of a job as insurance companies wanted) and effectively dictates car safety standards on a global scale.
If a market imposes the same tax to ANYONE selling in it, irrespective of origin, based on the quality or type of product, then it is not a 'tariff' (an unequal tax based on origin country) but a market tax.
Thus a tax based on the waste-handling cost for ineffective packing or non-durable uses of difficult to re-manufacturer resources could be an effective way of pricing the damage to the commons back on to the individual actors at a point where change can occur because of the pressure.
Yes, manufacturing may happen overseas, but generally the product is still sold to the consumer by a locally based entity. Legislating that sellers are always responsible for disposing of products they sell isn't hard - we already do it for electronics with the weee directive.
What about online sales that are shipped from overseas? Legislating against sellers isn't going to work well when the seller is on AliExpress and shipping in a small package from China.
No actor should be immune to criticism, don't you think?
Yes. But it's __always__ the consumer that pays that bill. Increase in the cost of anything simply gets added to the price.
Yes. You might get manufactures to change. But the consumer is still the one who pays.
Furthermore, the cost of the bill is often exaggerated. Yes, retooling the manufacturers' plants to avoid externalizing environmental costs is a large one-time investment that will be passed on to the consumers. But that must be done to stop destroying our environment, and after that initial investment is paid off, the running cost of producing the goods will in almost all cases come back down to what it currently is, so the consumer price will come back down too.
> The trucks only accept trash bags officially sanctioned by the government of Taiwan which come in a distinctive blue color, complete with an official seal. The bags range in price and size, from 3 liters to 120 liters. The most popular bag is 25 liters (similar to a tiny bathroom wastebasket liner), which costs about $5 for a pack of 20. This effectively makes a pay-as-you-waste model, incentivizing citizens to recycle and compost as much as possible since those services are offered for free. The musical garbage trucks are tailed by a recycling truck, where workers help the residents sort their recyclables and compost into thirteen distinct bins. Should people fail to sort their materials properly, the government will fine them up to $200.
Perhaps a combination approach: $5 for a pack of small bin liners, or return your waste to the shop for free.
If Tesco were filled with piles of consumer waste given back to them I posit the problem would be on the way to being solved within weeks.
EDIT: Reading more of this thread, it looks like everyone is suggesting this, so my comment does not add much.
So why is this obvious solution not implemented?
So is driving your garbage back to the store where you bought something.
The whole process, taken as a whole, just doesn't make any environmental sense.
This is also what we did with soda cans when I lived in Michigan. You'd pay 10 cents extra per can, and then get it back when you returned them. If you didn't return them, the state had 10 cents to use to clean up waste produced by that can. If you did, you got your money back and the can got recycled. It seemed to work pretty well. I remember a year after they started the program noting how much cleaner the roads seemed because people were going out and picking up cans to return them and fewer people were throwing them out their car windows.
It's how recycling used to work. There were big skips for glass, paper, textiles etc in most supermarket car parks. They were well utilised by shoppers before entering the store. Before that we used to return the empties for reuse within the store.
If a campaign of returns caused supermarkets to restrict suppliers, and create less in the first place, I would do so diligently.
It also seems like a massive environmental waste to ship individual packages of garbage around, when you can handle it locally just as well, and have manufacturers pay for it.
I have no inside information but I think it is because manufacturers will collude to add this as a visible added cost to the cost of the product. Consumers will think stuff became more expensive because of some idiots in DC/Brussels.
Sure it does. If you're going to slapped with a $200 fine every time you screw up with your recycling, and you have to pay by the bag to throw stuff in the landfill, if you have half a brain, you're going to think twice about every purchase you make, and if you really need it. That $1 water bottle that costs you $200 because your kid threw it in the wrong bin is going to make you not want to give your kid another disposable water bottle.
Producers only produce as much product as consumers purchase. Less consumption will result in less production.
Not sure how that could be prevented.
I vaguely remember seeing something about this happening in Germany where households are charged by the amount of rubbish that has to be collected. So people unwrap things in the shop and leave the packaging behind.
Also - consumption isn’t all bad. There’s many poor people who can’t afford much, and we very much are promising a better life where they can consume goods and lead healthy lives (goods such as medicine, clean water and chocolate as much as Coca Cola in a plastic bottle)
And also - if people were charged for old school packaging, costs would go up. People wouldn’t buy as much and this would start a new round of economic troubles.
At its price point, I suspect that plastic is so cheap, that even with all the pollution and waste being collected, it’s still ends up with positive utility.
There’s a report on carry bags which shows reusable cloth bags have significantly higher environmental impact because of the cost of production costs, water use and eventual decay into some carbon gas like
Seems better to put that effort towards development of techniques to sort en-masse. Likely controversial, but I think there is also an argument for simply throwing hard-to-recycle items in a landfill. If consumption continues to increase, it will likely become economically viable to eventually mine those landfills for raw materials.
Improperly sorted plastics are burried in a landfill. They will not fill the ocean with plastic whether recycled or trashed. Global warming is mostly a matter of energy usage, so recycling only helps that when it's more energy-efficient than the alternative.
-Peak oil & oil crisis
-Global cooling concern in the 1970s
-Worldwide food shortage
How about the fact that we are going to be 10 billion by the end of the century?
And the only reason that we have managed to avoid a food shortage has been the increase in the use of fertilizers which in turn is depleting the soil at a faster rate than ever before turning arable land into dust bowls and rivers becoming so polluted by the chemicals that there are massive extinction events in the population of fish all around the world?
Same for the oil crisis, the shale oil has stopped the crisis in its tracks but only for a short amount of time as the demand keeps on rising and inevitably the price per liter/gallon is going to be back to what it was before the GFC. Also, fracking is polluting the soil more than ever before.
In short most of the crises that you mentioned have not been solved, but simply delayed.
Eventually, they will catch up with us and somebody is going to have to pay? But who? Most likely taxpayers as always.
What I find baffling is what are you going to say to your kids/ grand-kids when they ask you where the forests went? Why is the air so polluted? Why are the rivers so toxic and completely empty?
Should I go on?
People generally don't want to live in smog/pollution if they have a choice but will do whatever it takes to survive even if that means harming the environment.
For example, no amount of lecturing or rainforest protests are going to stop people that depend on slash & burn for survival. Best option is to open up trade, provide GMOs & fertilizer, and provide economic opportunity so they have options other than slash & burn.
You also see this with China, they've made huge progress environmentally, mostly because they can now afford to.
There is an entirely separate, less frequent service that collects organic waste, so there’s probably some overhead there.
The line you're drawing to define "labor done on behalf of a paid service provider" is laughably ridiculous. The service they provide is "picking up sorted bins of trash". You're not "doing their work for them" to meet the terms of the paid service agreement.
I bet, each city, that enforces waste sorting, has a monopoly.
This is insanity on stilts.
I'm skeptical that it will ever be economical in a scalable way to mine landfills, but I don't know enough to dispute it.
Price mechanisms let you answer that question yourself. Say you have 5 bags' worth of rubbish of which 3 bags' worth is recyclable. You can either spend the time to sort the one from the other, or you can pay for 2 extra bags.
So yes it is good because it is the only solution we have on hand that is effective. Development of reclamation techniques should be done in parallel to landfill diversion.
They also enforce like Taiwan, $10,000 find for illegal dumping. And they actually look through your trash for bills and letters with your address. The Swiss don't seem to love the system, more like tolerate it.
There's a picture of the 10 bin recycling thing halfway down this page:
I’ve never understood why recycling wasn’t self-sustaining, isn’t there value in the raw material?
When I was young reusing was the thing; a glass milk bottle went back to the dairy was sterilised and used again the next day. One bottle, with a recyclable aluminium foil lid, could be used again and again and again. Nowadays we make a glass bottle, use it once, then melt it down and make a slightly different bottle, and we think that’s green!
And to clarify, I'm talking about recycling bins in fast food restaurants and grocery store delis. I've got a pile of used paper and plastic that I just ate off of. What of it can I recycle? The labels are usually either out of date or incomplete or both. And none of the plastics have discernible labeling to help.
It's basically the worst system I can imagine.
I'm an environmentally conscious nerd. If my demographic can't figure out how the system works, what do you expect from the general public?
Of course only the trash bin was full at all times.
However, it can smell pretty quickly and bugs like it, so if you plan to collect plastic for multiple days especially if it is hot, then you clean it up.
We're throwing away our time is all we're doing. Looks like no one here values time. Sorting into 13 bins, etc. We need govt to get out of the way so someone can figure this out and make money (their incentive to figure it out).
Govt's not going to figure this out for us. It has no incentive to.
Lower your expectations a bit, the people doing the worst aren't wondering what to do with a clean plastic fork.
We have a trash bin, yard waste bin, and recycle bin where I live, and I've seen neighbors dump their grass clippings into the recycle bin. I've had family members toss paper plates along with the half eaten hamburger on them into my recycling (NOT compost) bin because the plate is paper.
I'd love to see all drinks being sold exclusively in glass bottles that you have to pay a deposit for - that's how it was when I was a kid in Poland, you had to pay a little bit extra for the bottle and you'd get it back when returning it.
Look into the roughly 15 step process of recycling those cheap plastic bottles, including pressurised steam, abrasive steps, cold and hot water, and chopping into pieces before yet more washing. It is probably vastly more expensive in energy costs, especially when after all that it's still common to lose batches to contamination. It's miles from returning bottles into the same supply chain and the factory having as first step washing and rinsing the old bottles.
Broken ones were recycled in place, and they were already of exactly the correct type and colour.
This process starts with the shredding:
And then giant bales of plastic chips are hand sorted by color in China!
Hand sorting? This really is fundamentally broken isn't it?
The deposit system seemed to be pretty effective. Folks took an active role.
Maybe there are modern day systems that could be developed.
I wonder if people would subscribe to a Uber/UPS like system for fluids like beer, soda, milk, yogurt or water? Comes in sterilized glass bottles using an electric vehicle. I suppose it could be reusable plastic, but for folks paying a premium, glass would be nice. Something like $50 month for a couple cases of beer, going up in price as you order more.
The festival was Parklife and I think it was back in 2012?
$1 price increase on all cups, bottles and food containers. If you brought the item back (it didn't have to be yours!), you got a $1 back per item. It started off as coupons so you could purchase other goods with the coupon but at the end of the festival you could cash them in.
Never in my life have I gone to a one-dayer EDM festival and went home with significantly more money than I started with.
The economics of the choice being, the festival didn't need to pay for cleaners on significant overtime rates. And we're incentivised because I made a fucking profit from an EDM festival!
For the life of me I can't find an article on the event.
Needless to say after some choice after market vitamins, I was motivated to clean the venue during artists I wasn't too interested in. I was also incentivised since the festival was held in my cities Botanical Gardens which are around the corner from my office.
At the end of the festival, not a scrap of rubbish could be found.
It wasn't an absolute success though. Some people started fishing rubbish out of bins to get their own coin back towards the end...
Now there's an absurd mass of plastics.
Bottles got reused enough times (a little less with milk bottles) that older Coke, other pop, and beer bottles started to look rather archaeological from going through the lines 40+ times.
In another system you separate out recyclables to be sold, and to reduce how much trash needs to be disposed of. Now you need multiple bins, you need to ensure that trash is not mixed into the recyclables, different trucks or more trucks, more staff.
The cost of labor, the cost of disposing of trash, the capital costs to implement the system, and the income from recycling all effects whether it is sustainable.
cost of production from raw material > production from recycled material
value of recycle material > cost of recycling
My guess on milk bottles is some kind of sanitation and product liability issue.
The problem with recycling is it's recycling... There's a reason why the phrase is "Reduce, Reuse, and finally Recycle".
The upstream firms are Reducing their costs with little regard to reducing environmental impact.
The upstream firms guarantee you can't reuse - it's a missed sale.
So, you percolate through the layers, and then recycling is this all important thing.
edit: I'm struggling to wrap my mind around why this is getting down-voted. I'm providing a real world example of the behavior the person I'm replying to described. I'm not endorsing dumping things on the side of the road. Do people seriously not believe that above a certain price point people will illegally dump their trash and risk the fine?
The more rules, fines, restrictions the state implements, the less people will comply. And lack of compliance means stuff is thrown away in others' yards, dumped on the commons, or otherwise hidden to the nature of the trash.
Because of onerousness with local ordnances with regarding paint, many people just end up hiding the containers in dog food bags. I've seen quite a few of those already in the local dumpster.
A better solution would be human or robotic waste sorting at the dump, or clean incineration.
I suspect culture will have a huge impact on how well the solution works.
I would love robotic waste sorting, I hope someone is working on that!
It really is not hard to take care of your environment!
Still not clear how people are prevented from throwing garbage into the recycle bins. Is the recyclable stuff not placed in bags and therefore easy to be vetted by the staff?
We're still going to need some amount of fossil fuels for the foreseeable future. A yoghurt pot or a pizza box might not be recyclable using current processes, but it's perfectly good fuel.
13. There's a moment you have to choose between the fine and getting the fuck out of stupid land. Around 3 different bins will do it for me: consumers waste is nothing compared to industrial waste. Trash sorting is the little act which help some people feel good but helps a lot less than not going on their annual holiday to the other side of the world. It's green theatre.
Also, the way waste management is handled at the municipal level definitely complicates things for us.
(Recyclables are handled separately and there's no charge for them regardless of the volume you're leaving for collection.)
Recycling bags are free, but you have to pay for landfill bags (around $2). That way, there's an incentive to recycle as you save money.
Given an estimated 13 liters per person per week in the household here, $5 for 20 isn't providing a whole lot of incentive.
And the President is also in charge of local waste disposal, as we all know.
Which norms? Which administration didn't act differently than all others? Reagan firing the FAA unionizers was a new one.
Obama said he couldn't “waive away the law Congress put in place.” DHS went and legalized a few million anyway, years later. Sounds very familiar, but somehow different?
I'm not sure what you're talking about, but it sounds awfully revisionist.