Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
India Imposes Complete Ban on Solid Plastic Waste Imports (thewire.in)
341 points by howard941 on Mar 10, 2019 | hide | past | web | favorite | 195 comments

The dumping of "recycling" onto other countries just goes to show what a lie recycling actually is.

It's not recycling, it's just garbage, but the word recycling makes us feel good about sending it to some other country to be dumped.

With India and China refusing it, look to the "recycling" companies to make deals with countries that don't have the political will to say no to accepting the worlds plastic and paper garbage.

Why are we spewing out an infinite quantity of single use plastic and packaging?

It's all about the packaging industry and profit.

The thing that annoys me most is the in almost 100% of cases, the solutions discussed are about "how do we make use of all this plastic and other waste?", instead of asking the question "why haven't we turned off the tap?"

You are absolutly right. To others seeing this comment, i‘d recommend you watch the Documentary named „Plastic China“. It is on YT, but you support the makers here:


We need to stop plastic polluttion now, or im afraid the earths ecosystem will collapse sooner or later.

I feel like the debate on human induced climate change is a red haring. It's so abstract, it basically invites conflict and CO2 is absolutely nothing compared to issues of mass consumption. There are huge floating patches of plastic waste our oceans, being swallowed by sea life, killing fish and making its way into our food supply. There are massive lakes of sludge in Chinese and South Pacific factory cities used to make our electronics and PC components. There are disasters in the US like the Kingston Fossil spill where a coal plant containment damn breached and left a toxic slurry of coal ash and sludge flood the valley and enter the watershed.

Overall consumption needs to stop. Buying a new electric car requires all the waste that comes with making a car, plus the lithium and other metals needed for batteries that have to be replaced every ten years.

We cannot spend our way out of this. Humanity needs to consume less, to not replace cellphones and laptops every 2~4 years. Anything that fights real, tangible and easily measurable environmental disaster will also reduce CO2 emissions as a byproduct, but emissions themselves should not be and end goal.

The end goal is much much more difficult: convincing the people who run Intel and Apple and Samsung that it is in the planet's best interest to not have higher sales each year and that a better goal are products that last four times as long, where the sale of replacement parts are much higher than that of actual products. It requires fundamental shifts in the way our global economy works.

A low hanging fruit in the attempt to reduce consumption (which is the only real solution) is to stop single-use items. e.g. paper napkins, straws, carry bags from the local grocery shops etc. Just assuming that it's biodegradable or being recycled doesn't take into account the amount of energy and materials that went into production which are just wasted since the items are not reused.

While being low-hanging fruit, these things are also fully irrelevant. If the entire world stopped using them tomorrow, it would barely be a blip on any climate model or ocean pollution model.

Wearing the dressings of smart people, we do nothing, while telling others to do nothing, because the something they would do would be a "blip."

> Wearing the dressings of smart people, we do nothing, while telling others to do nothing, because the something they would do would be a "blip."

Talk is cheap. If you want something done right, you gotta do it yourself. The only way to effect change is to work towards it yourself and gently encourage others to do so. Be prepared to make sacrifices and/or compromises (this is what stops most people, humans are selfish and lazy).

Don't like plastic waste? Make an effort to reduce it. Take reusable cloth bags with you when shopping. A big trend among young people today is takeout food. It seems that fewer and fewer people cook for themselves. This is a massive source of plastic waste. Don't buy new gizmos just because they are new or for status. Use things until they break. Then fix them until they cant be fixed.

Just imagine if everyone stopped talking a good game and started taking small steps to making the world a better place.

My irrelevant "blip" for 2017 was picking up 300 bags of trash off beaches with my own bare hands. I didn't lead with that, but you brought it up.

Again you're just blaming the end user for companies making the bulk of pollution of all sorts.

I don't want the box in a box in a box with countless plastic air pillows in an Amazon shipment. Nor do I want razorsharp clamshell packaging. Nor do I need plastic bags- I use cloth bags.

Yet I'm the one somehow "responsible" for a variety of pollution and climate change. Its not my fault things are built with planned obsolescence. I can repair a variety of things, but with glues and ultrasonic welding makes things notoriously difficult.

Tl;Dr. Companies are really responsible, but 3 Rs are targeting citizens.

If we want to avoid the worse effe ts of climate change, we need to do something at the level of industry, not consumers. As individuals, that means we must focus on political efforts, much more than personal efforts: vote for a 'green' candidate even if you stand to lose from their financial policies; convince your friends to do the same. Call your representatives when green laws are voted on.

I'm not saying it's bad to do the small things. But it is bad to assume that if only everyone did the small things, the world would be better without having to do the big things as well - it wouldn't. As long as industry continues to be as wasteful as it is, as long as we continue to transport goods over the huge distances that we do, as long as we still grow the huge amounts of animals that go to waste, we are heading for catastrophe regardless of our everyone's individual actions.

It's all about didcussionshifting away from government who could enforce change for all to the individual which is sure to fall

Getting people to do something means we start to solve these problems. Plastic in the ocean and food chain is not nothing.

Same for climate change, start fixing small things build awareness and move onto bigger things.

Alternately tell people to stop doing anything.

That could work, but it is painfully slow,and it might as well backfire - making people live worse lives so that they might be politically motivated to make industry take some of the brunt is not an obvious next step.

Also, any reasonable changes to your personal buying behavior, and absolutely everyone on the planet's as well, assuming 0 changes in, say, industrial fishing dumping practices, will produce about a 0% change in ocean plastic pollution.

Getting rid of a lot of single-use items would OTOH conflict with hygiene rules though. That's probably why straws come in little plastic wrappers nowadays in some places.

Rules are made by people and can adapt.

Shallow ecology measures like that are more PR stunts than meaningful action.

Putting it here, for fun with a serious topic.


> The end goal is much much more difficult: convincing the people who run Intel and Apple and Samsung that it is in the planet's best interest to not have higher sales each year

The people that run those companies are just functionaries. It's the owners that call the shots, and they are at this point apparently too far down the road of competitive wealth-hoarding to change.

How is investing in one's pension or retirement fund "competitive wealth-hoarding"?

I may be misinterpreting your question, but it seems as though you're equating the average worker's retirement fund investments to what the GP was most likely referring to: large investors who compose what we commonly refer to as the "ownership class" and who are most certainly engaged in a perverse form of wealth hording at the cost of any apparent negative externalities. The two classes of investor are not remotely similar and cannot be judged by the same standards. It would be best if all investors (present company included) insisted on environmentally and socially ethical standards as a precondition for investment, but what does that have to do with the observation that such focus seems particularly critical for the largest players to adopt ASAP?

I couldn't put it better.

You had me at "Overal consumption needs to stop" but lost me at "convincing the people who run...".

The people required to make the changes are the "consumers" not the people running the companies. Companies will respond to DEMAND and nothing else.

But it's also obvious that companies shouldn't be able to supply anything and everything demanded. For instance, there is a demand for hitmen and child porn - this does not mean that the demand should be satisfied. It is also clear that companies influence both policy and desires (through advertising and taking advantage of mass-consumption) to change what is demanded. If we are looking for a practical solution, I see no reason why it lies on the billions of consumers to suddenly become environmentally conscious - and for what reason? To satisfy an ideal of "pure capitalism"?

Isn't the end goal convincing the population at large to reduce their consumption habits, even in the face of a competitive culture where success == greater and better consumption? I mean even if we dismantled Apple, Samsung, Intel today another company would gladly step in to sell to people who are addicted to convenience, novelty and find meaning in purchasing things.

Essentially, we need a better system than capitalism.

That's too broad. We can have almost any system, as long as the incentives are aligned correctly.

We don't make companies pay for externalities, and we should. Maybe we could tax companies that sell plastic packaged things to pay for recovery costs, or make them recover it themselves.

There's lots of options and many of them could exist in a world where private interests make profit. We just can't let profit be the goal, it has to be the reward for acting responsibly.

seems difficult as long as capital is raised in a top down manner, since its those who hold the leash are the ones who demand compound annual growth (which is the real root of the problem imo)

I agree. The main objective of capitalism is making people consuming more and more and never only as much as one needs. To change that mindset we need to get rid of capitalism in the first place.

This is also thesis of Naomi Klein book


That documentary saddened and disgusted me. I realized that recycling is nothing more then moving my garbage to another country where some of it is recycled at the cost of their health and environment. I realized it is actually better to just toss my stuff in the trash and at least it stays in my country. But this still bothers me. In the past every jar you would buy at the store would fit the same lids as the canning jars and you could literally buy a jam, use it, then put your own jam in that jar. Why did they stop doing that? The packaging industry has promoted waste for years and people want change. I too recommend that documentary if you haven't seen it.

Yeah, I always wondered why I couldn't just get my MacBook at the Apple store unboxed and then let them keep the packaging and re-use it for transport. It's not like their box has any utility to me after; I just put my laptop and its pieces in a bag and never look back at that box.

The worst part is -- I keep a lot of boxes around for years thinking the little plastic doodads and little accessories might become useful for me someday. What actually happens is that they never get used and then get tossed after the product is no longer useful to me.

> We need to stop plastic polluttion now, or im afraid the earths ecosystem will collapse sooner or later.

I'm afraid that if we hurry into it, there will be all sorts of unintended consequences. I also suspect that it's harder than we realize to keep track of what building houses the nuclear reactor and which one is the bike shed.

Going from plastic soda bottles back to glass ones, for example, would probably be an environmental disaster. It takes so very much energy to manufacture glass, and it takes so very much fuel to truck it around. I think, rather than micro-focusing on one specific bogeyman, what I'd really like to see is an attack on packaging-related waste and pollution in general.

> Going from plastic soda bottles back to glass ones, for example, would probably be an environmental disaster.

This is only true if said glass bottles were not reusable (and their reuse wasn't compelled in some fashion).

Yup. That's the catch right there - practically speaking, and on a commercial scale, glass bottles aren't reusable. At least, not anymore. Over the past couple decades, a lot of barriers have been put up to prevent the re-use of glass containers: Local bottling facilities have consolidated into regional ones, the number of different brands of beverage available on store shelves has increased enormously, many areas have passed laws that outright ban the reuse of glass containers, glass containers are no longer manufactured to be durable enough for repeated use, they now come in far too wide a variety of shapes to work well with sanitization equipment, etc etc.

A simple ban on plastic bottles would address none of this. You'd have to look at the big picture to be sure you can achieve good results.

I'd wager that we'd get much better results by instead introducing a tax on, say, every beverage container that enters the waste stream. Or, maybe easier to enforce, that cannot be proven not to have entered the waste stream. That would be a single legislative string to pull that would give the industry a strong economic incentive to address all (or at least most) of the real causes of the problem.

Interesting link. Another link!

This to a book that enlightened me to the chaotic world of globalised recycling: Junkyard Planet by Adam Minter. https://www.amazon.com/product-reviews/1608197913

"A Plastic Ocean" [1] is also a good documentary that deals with how most of the plastic that's used and thrown gets into the oceans and affects people. It touches upon some communities that try to recycle these, much to the detriment of their own health.

[1]: https://plasticoceans.org/about-a-plastic-ocean/

>It's not recycling, it's just garbage, but the word recycling makes us feel good about sending it to some other country to be dumped.

I've worked at a recycling plant so I know that it's different than the old landfills. But we just separated parts, components and fabrics out of various items. Never saw where they ended up.

Because it will be inconvenient. It's like an unspoken agreement between us, "listen pal, if everyone does it, noone can be held accountable, and if you stop, it will be useless effort since everyone else will keep doing it". The second statement is used very often to justify the lazy decisions our fragile mind takes.

> The second statement is used very often to justify the lazy decisions our fragile mind takes.

Unfortunately it's also true, in a sort of self-fulfilling prediction kinda way.

And even if not, and it remains true for the majority of others, what have you done? Put in a load of extra effort and made your own life more difficult, but achieved nothing.

This is why collective action at the state level is necessary.

Maybe, or maybe it would be unprofitable.

I don't think it will be even fractionally unprofitable compared to billions of us dying. I just realized I'm making an argument for socialism. Anyone up for it?

People have to care about those people, and have to believe in that reality instead of a pleasing fantasy, and they have to believe it will happen soon enough to matter to them. It turns out that a lot of corporate execs either believe in a fantasy (tech will save us), don’t give a shit if they make their money (lovely fallout shelters in NZ), or even see opportunities in a few thousand megadeaths.

If you can sell cigarettes to kids...

ever since I heard Noam Chomsky describe himself as a libertarian socialist, I thought, that's the non mainstream political affiliation for me!

There is a powerful (sub?)culture in the business world based upon proclaiming your company is sustainable. LEED is actually part of the problem in a way.

The metrics are based on unimportant factors like “diversion” (meaning it was dumped in a foreign country as “recycling” rather than safely burned or land filled), and the measurements are almost All estimates.

It will be a long road to change a culture that demands “recycling” simply because a politician or CEO committed to “Zero Waste by 20X0”, and the recycling rate must always go up year over year.

What does safely burned in the context of plastic packaging mean?

Waste to energy programs, where exhaust is contained and not released into the atmosphere, is a viable means of disposal for many materials. Particularly viable for those which are oil based, like plastic, which are highly pollutive if not contained (see our oceans), take a massive amount of time to naturally decompose, and have relatively high potential energy (because they are petroleum based).

Edit: I notice you said plastic packaging. Which made me thing of the massive amount of plastics in retailed packaging. My answer there would be that reducing is always better than recycling - start shipping with less material and/or more paper based products that naturally decompose in a few days/weeks.

Paper does not biodegrade once it is in landfill no longer exposed to air or the elements. Not even newsprint. There is a whole discipline of archeology consisting of digging in landfills and they often find perfectly preserved newspapers that are 50 years old or more.

Sorry landfill decomposition wasn’t my point but I didn’t clarify.

My point was that paper can decompose more easily if/when it’s improperly disposed of/littered. It’s not ideal, but at least it will be gone in shorter time than plastic, and it won’t destroy wildlife, etc.

The other benefit of more paper based products is they retain greater value than plastics (both economic and practical - your McDonalds napkin was formerly a newspaper, which is former office paper, etc) and therefore market forces will typically support a clean stream recycling program for mixed paper, office paper, and corrugated cardboard.

Thank you for your swift and comprehensive reply.

I wasn’t aware plastics could be burned and the exhaust contained / treated / whatever.

Plastics are, in essence, solidified crude oil. Many plastic products are very difficult to recycle, but they make perfectly satisfactory fuel. A modern waste-to-energy incinerator is no dirtier than a gas-fired power station. The Klemetsrud CHP facility in Norway provides a good model for the role of waste-to-energy incineration in a sustainable waste management system.


Great link thank you for sharing. It’s amazing how terrible a reputation waste to energy has.

Burning plastic is perhaps not ideal. But I'd guess it's better than pretending to recycle it while actually dumping it somewhere.

Not really. You dump lots of nasty material into the air, and then are left with lots of nasty byproduct that needs to be dumped somewhere.

The way to deal with plastic, especially packaging is to have a regulatory framework that makes it more expensive than putting it in a cardboard box.

Part of the problem is that markets for commodities are always volatile.

That is, recycling plastic X might be very profitable in 2015 and not at all be profitable in 2019. It is the same problem that producers of oil, aluminum and everything else have from time to time. Prices go up and prices go down.

I understand commerce makes the world go around, but why is anything and everything always measured in terms of profit and loss? We know plastic sucks and we know we need to reduce its usage, and yet we are still primarily talking about these things in terms of profit and loss, instead of talking about these problems in terms of welfare/sustainability/survival of this planet?

It's because money is something that can persuade people to do things they don't actually want to do. Persuasion has a better track record of sustainability than force. The easiest way to facilitate change is to make that change profitable.

Why don't we just sit around a campfire and sing koombayah and hopefully everybody's problems will go away?

If you don't care about money, then just give it all to me. If you do, then these people do too, which is why it's about profit and loss.

I never said I didn't care about money. All I did was ask why we are looking at every problem in terms of money. There are some problems that have become so big (global warming, pollution, loss of top soil...) that looking at these only through the lens of profit/loss makes no sense.

Not sure why the outburst/snark, I started my comment with "I understand commerce makes the world go around" ...

>we are looking at every problem in terms of money

Because making money by doing an activity is one well known way to do it long term, in a self-sustainable fashion. The other way is by force, which has many issues. Furthermore, in an open society (like most Western democracies), force use is very limited and cannot be sustained.

Either we find a way to make money out of fixing climate change or it won't happen, unless you're OK with global dictatorship.

Name the way to create incentives that doesn't involve money then. Many have tried, non is successful.

Pricing, supply, demand, are ways consumers indicate their interest in products and services, and recycling is very low value, because nobody cares.

It is not low value, it is just variable value.

In the late 1970s there was a a panic over energy and Aluminum prices were sky high. With no bottle deposit at all my dad and I picked Aluminum can out of dumpsters all over Manchester, NH and made enough money in a few weeks to buy a new Aluminum bicycle.

Later on the price collapsed and it was not worth doing.

People in the commodities business are used to this, it’s not as big a problem as you’d think.

The bigger factor that makes recycling harder to justify is that it’s very easy and cheap to make new stuff.

I wonder if a plastic credit system ala carbon credit system could work. This could prop up the recycling market.

Subsidies would help with that.

+1 us gov Does this for agriculture. Ensuring that farmers have a price floor by purchasing surplus

Don't those subsidies cause fluctuations elsewhere?

Last I looked most countries get very upset when others dump products on their markets at below cost. Chinese steel in America being a prime example.

Is a problem that we use a single label ('recycling') to describe many different efforts with different outcomes? E.g. paper and aluminum recycling seem to result in products being efficiently returned to use. While some mixed recycling basically gets routed to landfills?

Edit: Agree on turning off the tap. That's the primary thing we need to focus on.

Paper recycling doesn't work because it needs to be 99%+ pure and most Americans are lazy and put contaminated paper in the stream, so our paper sent to recycling is only 90% clean and thus recyclers cannot accept it.

Aluminum is pretty much the only material that is economically viable to recycle.

I wonder about garbage and recycling why we don't see more sorted stockpiles in a "junkyard" ethos for "might be worth something in the future when resource extraction vs new costs" change. My best guess is that the sorting is too expensive.

Not just sorting, but contamination.

Cardboard is recyclable.

A pizza box soaked with grease ins't, and can contaminate other potential recyclables as well.

Isn't it? All reused cardboard gets soaked and cleaned first, I'm sure the recyclers can deal with oils and other such contaminants.

Where I live (Germany), the recycling bins for paper and cardboard explicitly forbid fat-stained paper. (Not that anyone cares, though.)

A single pizza box can ruin/contaminate an entire bale of cardboard.

> It's all about the packaging industry and profit.

Everything is about profit. The invention of the assembly line was about profit. Toothpaste is about profit. YC companies are about profit.

It’s how our society works, and it’s not enough to just claim it’s about profit and call it a day. Good things are also about profit. What makes this bad?

The lack of pricing in negative externalities. That is the root of all capitalist evil. Global warming, micro plastics, holes in the ozone layer, all of it can be traced back to negative externalities not properly priced in.

Once you do that: saving the planet becomes about profit. And something tells me, we’d be pretty good at saving the planet, if there were money to be made… :)

Before the neoliberal revolution globally, and the Thatcher+Reagan dogma, there was an awful lot that was not about profit that did not require a communist state. Things were done "for the good of the nation/town", or just because it was thought good to do. The NHS was not about profit. Flowers outside the town hall were not about profit. Nor were youth clubs, libraries, parks or a free town swimming pool.

It is the fashion, and it is a fashion, for small government that comes with neoliberalism which has made everything about profit. Most countries (as opposed to shareholders) are worse off in many ways as a result. Not every state sale provided benefit, nor every privatised industry more efficient.

I fully agree that pricing in externalities and environmental costs should be in all goods. Nothing to do with profit though. It's the only way to compare in a market economy. I also tend to sympathy with Keynes in aspiring for a middle ground somewhere between rampant market dystopia and communist dystopia.

I agree with you completely. Imagine if Libraries didn't already exist and the US Government tried to implement a Public Library. Fox New would have a field day.

Good point. Or think about the Interstate system. No way the country could so such a thing today.

Inter-state what? Trading? Highways?

I think he meant Interstate highways, such a large infrastructure project would be impossible to get through congress today. I hope that the attitude towards these types of projects change soon. America could be such a better place if we could invest in our infrastructure and citizens


You mean like free software/open-source? Don't know about other people, but I don't tend to leave my home all that much, so flowers outside town hall, clubs, libraries etc. are all things I don't care all that much for. Maybe that has to do with it.

> The lack of pricing in negative externalities. That is the root of all capitalist evil.

There are lots of other kinds of market failures; markets diverge from the Efficient Market Hypothesis in certain quite common conditions, markets can produce monopolies, etc.

And even without all of those failures, markets inherently attach an unconscionably disproportionate value to the desires of the wealthy unless a serious redistribution mechanism is layered on top of them.

You're not wrong, similar to how certain organisms make a niche out of decomposing other creatures, it seems like all the garbage we produce should contain enough "economic free energy" so to speak, in order to properly recycle most of our waste.

Also I mostly agree with your point about externalities. I think a large portion of the evils of capitalism can be attributed to mispriced externalities, but certainly not all of it.

What would be an example of an evil of capitalism that is not attributable to mispriced externalities? I have trouble coming up with one myself.

Somebody could be born, by no fault of their own, with a rare disease that would cost more to treat than they can realistically earn, and which insurers can easily detect as a pre-existing condition.

Even if we're speaking just in economic terms, the value of saving a life or the cost of not saving it is lot more complex than their total potential earnings. Failure to take that into account would be the mispricing in this scenario.

Monopolies that underproduce/underinnovate.

The 2008 crash involved a combination of a principal-agent problem (between mortgage underwriters and the ultimate sources of capital that bought the CDOs) and the limits of the market as a transmitter of reliable information.

The market does not by default transmit its signals in a way that humans respond optimally to (not even from the point of view of their interests). e.g. people discount the future gas savings of a slightly more expensive car in a way that implies an implicit interest rate much higher than the actual one.

The market assigns the power to consume (money) in ways that do not reflect actual human values - i.e. the decision that someone whose skills are in demand should be able to consume 4x what their neighbor can, rather than 2x, is not a question of efficiency but of values, and when it comes to the high and low ends the market's values are inhuman.

The lack of pricing in negative externalities. That is the root of all capitalist evil.

I have come to a similar conclusion; the funny part is I have observed the most ardent supporters of capitalism and the free market generally seem to plug their ears and go "lalalala" the moment I utter the word "externality"

China is also a big exporter of plastic shit. Maybe there ought to be a law that requires plastic shit to be retured to the country of origin.

Alternatively there could be a law that countries that import plastic shit have a plan for dealing with it before they import it.

Yup. China doesn't export into another dimension; they're country that specialized to be the world's factory. And a factory doesn't do anything without work orders, which come predominantly from the western markets.

Plastic recycling has always been a massive con that just makes people feel better. If you have food wrapped in plastic that is new material that will never be recycled. Even if it was melted down and turned into something else, that's not recycling, it's just slowing the spiral down to the landfill.

Some materials can truly be recycled, like steel and glass.

I am skeptical of the idea that it is all about the profits of the packaging industry. All the revenues they make is from costs for other, more powerful, industries that would not mind cutting down on packaging costs.

In the end that is really just about giving the good incentives. India blocking waste imports is a good way. Countries blocking waste exports or forcing actual, effective and demonstrable recycling may be another.

Corporations can make and ship plastic trash more cheaply than reusable containers. The populace likes it because its less time to toss something than to something actually reusable or actually recyclable.

I do think there is merit in the waste-as-a-commodity view.

What annoys me is the consistent blaming on the 'industry' and 'profit' when industries only make thins people buy.

So why do people use single-use plastic? Because they are lazy, and it's convenient.

Making industries/factories/companies accountable for environmental pollution is easier, logistically/politically/financially, than making individuals accountable. So yeah, people are shit and they want this but fixing the problem is easier if you go after the industry and tax the externalities. Plus it’s not so black and white. In my neighbourhood people want to make environmentally friendly choices but when you go to the market you’ll find no options without plastic packaging, food chains refusing to serve in my own metal containers etc etc.

In a similar vein, a majority in a country can choose to oppress the minority but that doesn’t mean government should let it happen because the people made the choice.

And because it's often the only option. Here's a question for you, which one happened first? A) someone packaged a good in plastic or B) someone bought a good packaged in plastic?

Its a third option: At some point someone decided to package an existing product that was not usually packaged in plastic, in plastic. Consumers decided the new way of packaging was superior and everyone adopted it to keep up.

I have to disagree that all changes in the details of product disbursement originate from an increased benefit to consumers (rather to to benefit producers as your comment implies), but I cant deny that there are substantial benefits on both sides once you ignore the externalities. Regardless, it is practically impossible to avoid buying most goods without at least a small amount of plastic packaging, so even if the masses were capable of organizing to effect change regarding packaging, someone has to recognize a market for it and change practices accordingly.

It's the only option because it's the best option. Without plastic what would you package things with? Everything is shit by comparison.

It's a problem of scale, convenience, hygiene, etc. "back in the day" stuff like paper bags or waxed paper was a lot more common, but the volumes were also much lower, the availability of luxuries like idk, takeaway food and soda was much lower, etc.

Going back will mean going to the market, getting fresh vegetables and potatoes and shit, and put them in either paper bags or reused burlap sacks. I think an individual's biggest contribution would already be changing their food habits; stuff like keto, primal diets, vegetarianism / veganism are a step in the good direction. Assuming you cook your own food, instead of idk, grabbing a McD's salad (in a plastic container) or pre-packaged vegetables (plastic bags).

The new packaging products aren't better, just cheaper. And volumes of vegetable sales have only increased.

My brother worked produce when they switched from paper to plastic packaging. Moisture issues ruin lots and lots of produce at a much higher rate in the plastic.

The other driver is the industrialization and centralization of production. You need plastic packaging and controlled delivery to ship your produce from irrigated desert in California to Maine. Of course in the process you kill off all of the regionalized produce growers as the whole supply chain needs to adapt.

Even meats are this way. Meat is packaged in plastic because the industry was allowed to consolidate to a few fly-over states with awful labor practices. When I was a kid in NYC, whole sides of beef were delivered and cut in the supermarket or butcher. No packaging required until retail, and retail packaging was mostly paper. Now some dis-assembly worker butchers meat in Colorado or Iowa, which must be shipped in cyrovac plastic to the retailer.

Can't believe I'm speaking in support of McD here but last time I went the only plastic was the straws and cup lids - everything else was paper.

Because they don't have a choice.

Scenario: I need to buy some water or milk. I go to the market... what are my options? My grocer does not provide water in plastic or metal bottles, and no longer provides cardboard milk cartons.

Scenario: I need a quart of oil for my car. Packaging options are: 32oz PET bottle.

Scenario: I need a laptop computer. I order it online. There is no way for me to tell what packaging is used. I open the box and the laptop is protected by polystyrene and accessories are in taped plastic bags.

As a diligent consumer, wtf am I supposed to do?

Short answer: buy less stuff.

Longer answer: reduce your buying habits. Keep your laptop/phone around for longer before replacing it. Buy second hand or refurbished devices.

Do you need to buy water, or could you drink (filtered) tap water? Do you need to buy milk, or can you replace it with an alternative? Soy and oat "milks" are different, but serviceable replacements. Avoid almond and other nut "milks".

Sometimes you can't really avoid the packaging, but you can make sure the product in that packaging has a smaller environmental impact.

As for motor oil, most cars only one oil change per year, so that bottle of oil isn't the worst item in your example. But you should probably drive less.

In other words, ignore the problem and do something else that gives a warm fuzzy feeling. Replacing milk with a more expensive, processed alternative has nothing to do with a plastic bottle.

The global solution to reducing plastic packaging is to reduce the use of plastic packaging, mostly by using cardboard and glass instead. That's driven by manufacturing, not consumer action.

You were specifically asking from a personal perspective, so I gave answers from the same perspective. That does not mean that I discount the impact from corporations, in any way whatsoever.

Lifestock farming is one of the biggest contributors to climate change. By choosing alternatives, this contribution can be lessened. I very specifically said not to buy nut milks, because they're also rather bad for the environment, especially in terms of water usage. Soy and oat milks have lower impacts than dairy and nut milks.

Just because your individual action doesn't make much of a difference in and of itself, that does not mean we should just give up. Obviously it shouldn't be a case of ignoring the big polluters just because you did a small thing, but by changing our habits, we can use consumer demand to change the production and packaging practices of corporations.

Individual action does make a difference. Everything counts.

Maybe Russia needs a new industry?

Is there any other nation (North Korea aside) that would let foreigners ship trash to be dumped on their land?

Yes, my country - Poland, and what happens is this:

1. Some other country exports its trash to Poland.

2. The trash is stored at a specific place and not a few days go by until an "accidental" fire erupts.

3. The "entrepreneurs" who originally took the trash profit not only from that, but any potential insurance claim.

4. Rinse and repeat.

Who does profit from it?

I’ve no idea in practice in this case, but it’s certainly a common trope that organised crime sells expensive but safe waste disposal, then disposes of the waste cheaply and unsafely, and profits.

1. The company that sent the waste, relative to what they'd pay for a proper disposal.

2. The people that accepted and disposed of the waste, on the difference between how they declared to do it vs. how they actually did it.

This is already big business in Africa:


It would have to be kept very, very quiet, since Russia is very sensitive about prestige these days vis-a-vis the West.

There are companies (in India) buying the plastic though.

So there obviously value being extracted. This isn't a story of the 1st world paying to get rid of their waste.

I agree with you in general. We should be generating less waste and recycling and we should be taking responsibility for that waste and recycling. I would stop short of cutting out the 3rd world from the opportunity to benefit from the opportunities waste and recycling bring though. Theres money to be made, they have the ability to compete. We developed nations shouldn't let it become a race to the bottom though. If China wants clean pure plastics, we should be willing to supply that.

Nothing perturbs me more than the whole plastic problem we have.

China and India's plastic and garbage pollution is one thing, but Japan is the place that irks me the most when it comes to plastic use.

I bought bananas that were wrapped in plastic (go figure, right? ) And what did the cashier do? She wrapped it in more plastic! THEN she gave me a plastic bag to put it in!

That blew my mind. Like, why? Just _why_?

Go to any supermarket in Japan and you'll see fruit and vegetables wrapped in plastic for no good reason at all. It's one of the reasons I typically buy my produce from the local farmers instead of the market now.

I mean, why would you _individually_ _wrap_ oranges?

They are wrapped in plastic so they can source them from even farther away, where it's is even cheaper. So the entire supply chain gets longer and less efficient (pollution, energy, and sustainability-wise) because it is cheaper for producers. In short, more profit. This is capitalism.

Its very much same in Singapore as well. In supermarket, more often than not, cashier puts one item in one plastic bag, so if you are buying a weeks grocery, you easily get 10-12 plastic bags just like that. The vegetables are pre-packed covered with plastic. Some fruits are packed with another harder plastic - apart from the laminated plastic. And the thing that bothered me the most is during chinese new year, each mandarin is covered in plastic individually. Why do you want to cover each mandarin, for a fruit which already has a thick peel!!

With developed countries, with all educated residents, are finding hard to curb plastic use (or lack of effort), it looks humanity is still some distance away to make a serious dent to use of plastic overall.

I read that Singapore waste management/disposal is top notch, those plastic would most likely end up in incinerator and eventually to man-made offshore Semakau Landfill which itself is an attraction spot.



This is just throwing more (fossil fuel) energy into collecting and burning avoidable trash and into building more structures to accomodate it. How is that "top notch"? This might solve the short-term plastic pollution issue, but goes against all recommendations for climate change mitigation.

It's time to start considering CO2 emissions as our transparent, unmanageable trash. Each Singaporean is generating 10 tonnes of it yearly, and each American is generating 16 tonnes of it yearly.

Incineration actually recovers energy from trash - plastics are made from fairly complex petrochemicals, and so have a decent energy content.

The climate change issue is that, when burning it, you release carbon just like when burning any other fossil fuel.

Technically, it's even worse than other fossil fuels, because of all the extra steps involved in the plastic life-cycle, increasing its carbon footprint.

Waste-to-energy is a growing part of Singapore's energy mix, and that's not exciting news.

Yes it’s so odd! The cultural attitude is all about presentation, sometimes to the detriment of practicality.

Environment be damned and let’s get it out of sight once it is ugly.

If there was any country to lead a full on plastic bag ban you would think it would be Japan just given the heavy reliance on imports.

> I mean, why would you _individually_ _wrap_ oranges?

Especially peeled ones. Right? I asked this some time ago here, and the answer I got was "people with motor skills problems". I still don't know how to feel about it - I don't know the relative sizes of genuine demand vs. the scale at which such goods are provided.

Still, that's an exception. What you described is absolutely ridiculous. I'm already appalled by the amount of packaging we use here in Poland for no reason other than providing advertising surface, but the stories from Japan make my heart bleed.

Gotta love it when you go to the supermarket and the cashier “double bags” your plastic wrapped product.

India should have done this long ago.

Recycling items is way harder than it needs to be.

First companies need to re-engineer their products to minimize the solid waste and maximize recyclability

Second, people need to easily understand what can be recycled and what can not so they can make an informed decision

Third, communities should not have the option to ship out their waste and have someone else deal with the problem. By shipping out their problems they never have to deal with the consequences.

Solid waste is as much pollution as smog has been in large cities. Clean air laws have changed the whole environment in cites like Los Angeles.It's time we start doing the same with solid waste.

> Solid waste is as much pollution as smog has been in large cities. Clean air laws have changed the whole environment in cites like Los Angeles.It's time we start doing the same with solid waste.

As much as smog "has been"? Los Angeles today is still full of SUVs belching smog. The air quality is still insanely awful. Yet the dialog has moved on (maybe because SUVs are for the wealthy?).

Why care about landfills? Air pollution kills people, in addition to hurting them less severely and blocking the views. And on a global scale, climate change is going to hurt everyone on Earth. Landfills in the United States, where they should be properly lined so they don't leak poisons, don't hurt anybody. Plastic in landfills even sequesters carbon.

> As much as smog "has been"? Los Angeles today is still full of SUVs belching smog. The air quality is still insanely awful. Yet the dialog has moved on (maybe because SUVs are for the wealthy?).

Meh, there's no need to resort to conspiracy theories to explain why the conversation has dropped off the radar. The level of smog in LA is _drastically_ lower than its peak, both quantitatively (as one figure, ozone levels are 40% of what they were in 1970) and in terms of how the man on the ground experiences it. Most people stop caring about a problem when it stops being so dramatically visible.

> India should have done this long ago.

This is a government ban, which means they want to stop people who want to import this waste. Are those importers too financially illiterate to realise that they're costing themselves money? That even though their business is dealing with this waste, they need you and the Indian government to tell them that recycling is actually pretty tricky?

Maybe they should ban it because it's causing health or environmental problems, but banning activity you think is uneconomical is pointless at best and harmful at worse.

> communities should not have the option to ship out their waste and have someone else deal with the problem

Nobody is forcing anybody to do anything here. If you pay someone to take your trash, or if someone pays you to take your trash, both of you are better off. Banning the activity makes everyone worse off.

I think his point was not that its uneconomical but that it's harmful. By banning it, they are forcing other countries to actually think about their waste and deal with it more responsibly.

I have to say I agree with the regineering part, i don’t get PET bottles with hard plastic lids and labels. These things can’t be recycled as is it seems as a lot of times I see a seperate bin for the lids.

There are a LOT of places where people don’t need to use plastic, it’s just how things are done and it’s convenient. Small example, individually wrapping fruit in plastic at the grocer. Fruit comes with its own packaging!

Careful with unintended consequences. More people will go for the much more impactful cheeseburger or cookie bag if fruit becomes less convenient.

I don’t know if this is correct, but here is my theory;

Container ships have to make the voyage from the US back to China, why do it empty? They need massive tonnage to bring back, and the US just doesn’t export enough into China so let’s carry recycling? (This assumes the ships that bring X from China to the US can bring Y from the US back to Chine without expensive reconfiguration, and perhaps also that the ports of entry are reasonably close?)

Also, the amount of money that China was willing to pay for the material (or be paid for taking the material) was so outside the market price as to essentially be “dumping” (economically speaking) their recycling waste capture product on the US. In the presence of Chinese dumping no US facility could fairly exist in the market, so they all shut down. Now that the Chinese economic dumping had ceased, the US is left without a functioning market.

Yes, it pleases me to no end to frame the problem of US recycling as China dumping. No, I haven’t been able to determine if there is any factual basis to this hypothesis!

> In the presence of Chinese dumping no US facility could fairly exist in the market, so they all shut down. Now that the Chinese economic dumping had ceased, the US is left without a functioning market.

So, uh, basically the business model of venture capitalism? Go into a market, crush all the competition with massive amounts of cheap money and then jack up prices?

Don't call me surprised when China opens its ports for waste again but at 10x or 100x the price...

Obviously there is a great need for some good investigative journalism for this situation as to clear the air.

Eventually those of us in America and Europe will have to start actually recycling rather than just saying we are while shipping it to other countries.

Obviously part of the solution is going to necessarily require companies stop putting so much waste packaging on products.

We need reducing, not recycling. Recycling is an amazingly inefficient and polluting solution to a problem that should not exist (in its current magnitude) in a sanely-managed planet.

Let's not overgeneralize. There are many recycling that do not export garbage elsewhere and they are profitable. Recycling metals is easy and works well for example; it is not inefficient nor dirty.

Avoid producing waste, reuse, recycle, incinerate it, final disposal (or reuse in concrete etc): that's the chain to follow, and each part is important.

Well it is "Reduce, Reuse, Recycle" and in that order

Reduce is fine to a point, but populations are increasing faster than any policy of reduction can keep up with. Reuse is scalable, but is being completely ignored in our current disposable consumerism environment.

There is almost no focus on reuse in the US. If you want to get groceries, you don't take a container to fill, you buy your food wastefully prepackaged. Fast food restaurants don't give you a plate and glass, they give you disposable wrapping and a plastic cup. Even clothes are meant to be disposable - most people don't repair their shoes, they just throw them out and buy new ones.

I don't see this mentality changing any time soon, and it's really sad. We should start changing companies for the disposal costs of their products and packaging, rather than hiding the cost in environmental damage.

In many European countries, single use plastic bags for groceries almost disappeared overnight after a flat tax of 10 cents was slapped on it, I think they used less than 50% in 1 year or something like that.

The supermarket sold some sturdier and bigger bags for like 50 cents, who can be reused for years and they even replace it for you if the bag is ruined for some reason, but using this was socially frowned upon. After the tax, it is socially acceptable to reuse bags now.

It is possible to change this on a society level, and the change can be vary fast on our current hyper-connected economy.

A similar thing happened with lunches. Before 2008, people would never carried their own lunches from home, it was a total social faux-pa. The mix of economic downturn (even if the same people did not feel it), healthy lifestyles are trendy and the classic one-upmanship between who would bring the fanciest lunch lead to droves of people carrying their lunches on public transit almost overnight, special stores that sell thermos and special bags, and hundreds of cook books.

"We need reducing, not recycling."

Why not more of both?

Reducing and reusing do not rely on external factors. You can do that yourself right now and it’s completely within your control.

Yes, but did I say anything else?

I let my nephews tear down broken old laptops for parts reuse, for example ... quite fun and useful.

And since I am in germany, I can also add more to the recycling part. We sort old glas by colors - they do get recycled. Old paper - same.

And even plastic to some extent, even though I know that most of that gets burned. But some of it actually does get recycled.

Our ordinary trash bin is quite small.

I hear this often. Are there any studies/articles that would help me understand the global recycling industry?

Background: I would like to start or buy a recycling business because I want to be part of the solution instead of the problem (and if it can make a profit, I'm not independently wealthy). Yes, I know we need to reduce and reuse first, but we're now also sitting in a mountain of plastic and given inertia, it's not going to go away anytime soon.

I did read this one already [1], which I recommend to get a basic understanding of the various forms of recycling and the profitability.

[1] https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/1569906769/ref=ppx_yo_dt...

I thought these were just depressing... but yeah, likely more truthful.

Pick one, they're all just as depressing as the next.

* Adam Ruins Everything - The Corporate Conspiracy to Blame You for Their Trash - YouTube || https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=koqNm_TgOZk

* Penn & Teller - Recycling - YouTube || https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jac96QNtRmU

* Debunking recycling paper (P&T segment) - YouTube || https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7czKngCUASM

* The shocking scale of our waste - and the myth of recycling | Irene Rompa | TEDxMidAtlantic - YouTube || https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BTgTWLYCeOU

Single stream recycling is a really poor idea.

A better set of ideas that might actually help:

Reduce - as suggested elsewhere, eliminate parts of the packaging that aren't strictly required (outer seals, etc).


  * Create a set of standardized, rugged, containers that seal around foods.
  * Actually use them to pack foods in standard containers.
  * Which are then returned for cleaning and reuse.


  * Many bins, one for each type of allowed recyclable plastic.
  * Also a compost bin
  * Which would be different from a yard waste bin
  * Make sure the reusable containers are also easy to recycle.
  * Also, make an easy to read (human and machine) /large/ 'number' label.
Ban difficult to recycle things such as plastic fused to paper.

> * Create a set of standardized, rugged, containers that seal around foods.

We used to actually have this: it was wooden/plastic crates and boxes, pallets, burlap bags, and glass milk/juice/beer bottles.

We're moving backwards, and it's all due to economics. Reuse of those materials back then was motivated by the cost and difficulty of producing those containers. It simply was not economically feasible to produce a single-use crate or glass bottle--too expensive. Economics and the wonder-engine of capitalistic progress has now given us the ability to manufacture trillions of single-use containers for literally less than a penny a piece. It's just far cheaper and less of a headache to just produce, wrap, and then toss the waste. No one wants to deal with all the niggling details of carting bottles back and forth, washing, them, filling them. Just too much of a pain in the ass. So we get what we have now. Clean, no fuss, no mess. Just toss it.

In many ways, our older economies--full of poor working saps who had to lug bottles back and forth--was far more sustainable than today's system. But today we're rich and lazy and awash in our own trash. Progress!

Germany and neighbors still do some deposit bottles and jars, and at least in Germany, are better at the re-intake than they were 15 years ago.

Unfortunately, we've also lied to ourselves about our Gelbesacks (packaging recycling bags) to the extent that there are a lot more things in single-use containers and a lot of fruit and veggies are in pre-weighed, plastic-wrapped packages.

I know, I live in Germany. The Pfand and bottle reuse system is pretty nice.

As I read this I was reminded of how trees in prehistoric times piled up because no bacteria had evolved to eat them yet:


We don’t feel so bad about using paper or wood because it now biodegrades, but if those organisms hadn’t evolved, we’d be worried about wood and paper the same way we worry about plastic.

This article suggests there are some bacteria that has already evolved to eat kinds of plastic:


Maybe in a few decades with more research, we’ll have solutions for plastic that don’t involve sending it across the world?

If plastic was biodegradable that would be pretty much the same thing as burning it. We need to keep it underground in the form of oil

To me, that's the equivalent of not doing anything about global warming because future technology may be able to trivially solve the issue. Sure, that may be a possibility, but what happens to humanity if that's not the case?

I wonder if this trend will inspire more people to look into DIY recycling. Plastics are pretty easy to melt down and reuse, if you know what sort of plastic you are working with.

You should research the types of recycleable plastics and how they are marked[0] - some types can release toxic fumes which are bad for both you and the planet. I've heard you can develop allergies to plastics from breathing some of the nastier fumes, and while that may be an urban legend I would definitely advise caution.

Still, HDPE and LDPE seem fairly safe and easy to recycle without adding things like plasticisers, and HDPE bricks make for great CNC stock.

[0]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Recycling_codes

Never heard of those HDPE bricks, indeed it looks like they could be really useful for prototyping. Here is one video I've found while searching for HDPE bricks in case anyone is interested: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kUR6_bQLU-E

You can buy a machine for $300 that recycles plastic at home for your 3D printer. https://www.filastruder.com/collections/filastruders-accesso...

It's nice in theory, less so in practice based on the various reviews of the various DIY filament solutions I've seen. There are problems both with the consistency of the diameter of the extruded filament and the fact that each time you melt plastic it degrades significantly so that even on the second melt you have to mix in a significant fraction of new material.[1] We might get there eventually but in the meantime, people have had more success melting down waste plastics into bars/rods for use in subtractive (i.e. lathe/mill) applications.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thermal_degradation_of_polymer...

In the game FTL, the universal currency is "scrap", presumably because of 3D printers/fabricators/replicators that can turn it into anything else.

[0] https://subsetgames.com/ftl.html

Haha, yeah - if I ever get to make a game in the apocalypse/hoarder genre, 'polyethylene' is going to be a core resource.

It doesn't lend itself to 3D printing because it is similar to Teflon/PTFE in not wanting to stick to anything, but it is still astonishing stuff. You can melt/press it into molds, and if you toss it in a toaster oven you can even knead it like putty through welding gloves if you're careful. Metal tools will chew through it like butter with hardly any wear, and it is very light for its strength. You can even melt down the shavings. And if you need to, you can often "glue" it to things with anything from a soldering iron to a blowtorch.

It expects pellets on the input;

The Filastruder filament extruder needs chunks of plastic that are no larger than 5mm on any side.

So it’s missing a step from being an actual recycling bin.

Saw this on my feed today:

A relatively painless guide to cutting plastic out of your life


The article suggests glass shampoo bottles? No thanks. Plastic is a great material, it is just abused.

The article suggests glass bottles and refilling them from bulk packages. No reason you shouldn't refill plastic bottles from bulk packages if you're worried about dropping the glass.

Getting a bulk supply that doesn't use plastic (or send you to some funny store that you have to drive further to and that costs more) is presumably the hard part...

Shampoo is a scam anyway. I've started using a bar of soap on my hair and it's just as clean and soft as it ever was. Just lather it in your hands before scrubbing your hair.

Shampoo should be illegal. That stuff is crazy toxic, we shouldn't be systematically dumping all those chemicals into the water supply.

Natural soap does work well on hair.

> Natural soap

Soap occurs in nature?

It's hypothesized that soaps originally formed accidentally when basic rain runoff from expired camp fires chemically interacted with animal fats. Roman sources certainly document the production of soap from tallow and ash, which is a circumstance that could conceivably arise by chance in aftermath of a camp fire. Perhaps that's not natural, or maybe we can theorize some sort of wildfire scenario causing the same circumstance.

Regardless, I think his point is that shampoo as we know it today is very much a product of the modern marketing/industrial complex.

In small quantities, sure.

Aren't these sort of bottles the kind of plastic that recyclers actually make a profit from anyway?

Plastic avoidance should first target plastics that can't be recycled.

Plastic is not a great material for the environment and your comment illustrates the crux of the issue for humanity. We tend to optimize for local maxima and not global ones. As other commenters have pointed out pricing in externalities would be a great step forward. Plastic shampoo containers may not be so great in your eyes if their cost became prohibitively expensive.

Plastic is a great material for some uses, but it’s also a very durable material. I’d love to purchase shampoo in the form of a refill of the plastic shampoo bottle I’ve already purchased some months ago. Why buy a new bottle every time? That’s the part which doesn’t make sense.

What would the refill package look like?

A large vat at the store, with a spigot to refill the bottle you brought with you. I've seen this for cooking oils and honey, not sure it exists for cosmetic products.

Same way a glass shampoo bottle refill package would look like?

Presumably people notice this is explicitly targetting the consequences of China banning them the same way: when china moved, the feedstock moved to India.

I guess that it will move now sadly to other poor countries in the far East or Africa

I think that it's moving to incineration domestically. Thats the trend here in Australia, combined heat and power is being touted as probably better (the smoke is an issue, the ash is an issue)

I want to live in a world of reusables. Where I show up to a grocery store with glass bottles to be swapped out for filled ones of soda and milk. Give me yogurt in glass, even. I don't care.

We have this complicated recycling sorting program in Waterloo. And months ago I noticed that they simply stopped giving a crap about the sortedness or cleanliness of anything that isn't aluminum.

Are papers still decently recycled?

within India, we use lots of Plastic bags. GOV of India tried to ban it so many times but public and shop owners are not willing to give it up. on other hands, GOV doesn't oppose big corporations producing consumer food packages using plastic. This is really a big issue where I live (animals eating plastic; big dump of plastic in public place). in my view, we should totally ban plastic bags for consumers and for corporation usage.

Vaguely on topic: I used to work in one of the tall buildings in downtown Berkeley, so I could see the bay.

Every day, I’d spot at least one garbage scow hauling stuff off to be dumped somewhere in the bay/ocean.

That was about the same time they banned single use plastic bags. The hypocrisy of inconveniencing everyone to make a show of doing something while still allowing the garbage scow pisses me off to this day.

I wish these environmental greenwash programs came with a legal requirement to do a end-to-end impact study after implementation.

This issue was discussed yesterday from the China side: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=19346342

Positive move. It is not like India is on a different planet. Plastic waste export limitations will force us to find better solutions including reducing plastic waste.

I have seen a few biodegradable things used for takeout like in chipotle. Can someone tell me why those are not more popular in at least some processed food, e.g. my hummus.

The cost makes it hard to use biodegradables. They are way more expensive so companies won't buy them if they don't have to. Industries like fast food restaurants survive on a very tight profit margin so a few cents makes a difference. Also, if they aren't properly handled so they can decompose they are just as bad since they won't break down.

If they were forced to use biodegradable everybody would have to raise prices by a few cents and nobody would notice.

I agree with the concern about not being handled properly. How many biodegradable really end up in a compost pile>

What happened to the futuristic plasma furnaces that were supposed to be able to melt all this stuff into elemental components?

Carbon is not that useful on its own.

Scientifical question: most plastics can be dissolved using acetone or other solvents. What keeps us from simply doing what von Laue and Franck did (dissolving their Nobel prize medals in aqua regia to hide them from the Nazis), just not with gold medals but with plastics?

I like this move.

Thank God.

Hopefully everyone learns from this. Recycle where it makes economic sense, or bury in an approved manner. It will be interesting rock in less than 1M years.

This is just funny for me. India already is one of the countries where you can see waste everywhere.

Depends on the area. Some areas are clean, some areas are filthy. The city I live in is successfully reducing the usage of plastic. They banned plastic bags that are at a certain thickness (the kind you get in grocery stores). Everyone uses paper/cloth bags and lot of times its reused. Now the government authorities are talking with restaurants to see how they can reduce plastic on take out food.

At home, they collect plastic waste once a week. We are expected to clean the plastic properly and dry it before handing them over. I was really surprised to see how much plastic waste we generate every week in our 2 people household. Seeing that has motivated me to reduce waste as much as possible.

They are also replacing all the city public transport buses with electric. They had some trial runs and electric buses made good amount of profit for them. So hoping to see an all electric fleet in another 5 years. Another major source of pollution is the 3 wheeler auto rickshaws (tuk tuk). News reports say they will also eventually become electric.

That problem is being fixed, aforementioned article is one of the steps being taken towards that goal. Funny how "waste everywhere" automatically translates to let's dump more garbage in that country.

Nah, I don't find it funny. I find it nice that steps are being taken to stop this from happening.

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact