Given that plastic at best gets 1.3 uses, the initial one and then a third of that material can go into a recycled container. That is it. When you compare that to the thousands of reuses of glass bottles we used to do for milk it is really apparent how awful the plastic process is, its barely better than just throw away. This also ignores the fact that huge amounts of the plastic used isn't actually recyclable at all.
The triple whammy to all this is that all over the planet people have been cleaning their plastics with hot water, drying and then separating it into different rubbish bags with separate collections and additional bins etc. All for a giant lie about recycling that was never true. We have wasted substantial energy and time on something that never worked and helped destroy the environment even more because of it.
It requires a lot of harsh chemicals to remove the inks. The output paper is substandard. The whole process is energy intensive.
And, the messed up part about the whole thing is that throwing away paper is one of the best things you can do for the environment. It is natural carbon sequestration.
We are far better off tree farming for paper.
Which are brown. You don't have to worry about the inks or "substandard" or whatever". And then the pizza boxes aren't re-recycled because of grease.
You suggest we stick to trees instead of recycle, "for paper". But the whole point of recycling is to turn paper into pizza boxes (and presumably also our Amazon shipping boxes, etc.).
It sounds like you're trying to argue against recycling paper... when the reality is it's a huge success, when you realize paper is recycled into cardboard.
It may be better for the environment to sustainably harvest trees to produce cardboard then to recycle other paper products.
A lot of paper is coated in clays, waxes, or plastics, and many inks might make paper unsuitable for use in food grade products like pizza boxes, without heavy processing.
Shipping boxes, maybe. If the structural properties of the resulting board are OK.
But most post-consumer paper is unusable for one reason or another. Recycling of industrial packaging is a slightly different story.
So the paper does, eventually, go to the landfill and become sequestered in the typical fashion.
If you live in an area that collects material for industrial composting you should 100% put the grease coated parts of the cardboard in your compost collection bin.
I'm not too sure on the details of how that is done, but I imagine it involves driving huge trucks into forests, cutting trees with machines, stripping and cutting the trees, and transporting wood to industrial areas.
It has to be more CO2 efficient to recycle.
(the first ingredient is hot lye!)
In general, paper recycling is productive enough that paper mills buy recycled paper as an input. Cardboard even more so.
Virgin inputs also requires harsh chemicals, there's no advantage.
Bacteria probably need the right conditions to efficiently break down materials, cellulose is quite tough.
Some landfills capture the released methane and burn it (to avoid atmospheric pollution), which seems like a decent solution (even more with power generation). Some of the material will remain undecomposed (or take a really long time) so it is a net carbon sink. I think this depends on properly sealing landfills and arranging extraction infrastructure.
Seems like a good resource:
Another idea would be to curb methane generation or decomposition somehow. Apparently aerobic decomposition reduces or prevents the release of methane:
Burning trash directly is also an alternative I guess, though one I'm not very comfortable with due to trace elements contained in everyday items -- surely some mercury and heavy metals will sneak into residues? (and then into the atmosphere and our lungs)
Now, of course, we have LEDs in place of CFLs, and coal burning power generation is on the way out, so it's all moot.
The reality is that the system requires pigovian taxation to internalize their natural externalized costs, capitalism and specifically our modern version of neoclassical neoliberalism loves to socialize loses and privatize profits, we need public action against that
If you wanna hear my angle, I'd go for making Senates and congresses across the world secret, secret ballots, secret voting and secret deliverations and debates
If you wanna know as to why read on James DAngelo's Toxic Transparency Paradox, his congressional investigations on the systemic benefits of secrecy can be found on http://www.congressionalresearch.org/
Unregulated markets don't work, except in the way that cancer works to propagate itself before its host dies. They're not self-balancing ecosystems. After all, they're comprised of people.
Completely managed and controlled markets similarly don't work, and for largely the same reasons. After all, they're comprised of people.
Humanity has a unique knack for at least these two things: 1) constructing games, 2) cheating those games it has created for itself to play.
It's no longer enough to hedge against the risks of idealized perfectly spherical and rational actors bouncing about. We have to begin to take into account our own complexity and how we subvert the rules we lay out for ourselves.
Regulation can be successful, but at best its slow and incremental, and in the long term corporations will weaken and subvert them. Just having a system which incentivizes good behavior in the first place would be better than trying to regulate bad systems
These are some hot takes, but somewhat surprisingly they check out. Will read more.
D'Angelo goes further and interviews law professors on this issue, and they all not only seem perplexed at first, but agree with him later, and the caveat, is that US Law as it is taught from an orthodox angle, is only really taught after the 1970's or so, and don't really cover how legislation used to be done before it, so law students would naturally assume that "things always were the same way" when it came to how transparency was handled!
Here are some of the talks he has had with Law professors
And some other snippets in general
By now I am convinced that this is the missing piece, that accounts for not only the split between worker-productivity and wages, but everything else since the 1970's, this transparency revolution, with the Toxic Transparency Paradox aftermath is what set the course to where we are today with legislative gridlock, polarization, increases in wealth inequality, oligarchic corporatism etc
The main problem to me is that disposing of plastic is always an externality to the companies who produce and market it. Make them pay the recycling or disposal costs up front, and I’d be happy.
For a bunch of the same reasons you can't "just" make alcohol illegal or outlaw internal combustion engines.
Check your facts :
> Greenpeace says plastic bottle recycling rates are ‘stalled’ at around just 59% in the UK.
> Danone brand evian is introducing 100% rPET bottles to the UK this week; the latest in a series of recycled plastic commitments from PepsiCo’s Naked Smoothies, Nestlé’s Buxton bottled water, and Coca-Cola GB.
> This week Coca-Cola Great Britain announced that all plastic bottles in its core brand portfolio – including Coca-Cola, Fanta, Sprite and Oasis – are made with 50% recycled plastic. This equates to removing more than 21,000 tonnes of virgin plastic, according to Coca-Cola.
> “One of the key challenges the industry currently faces is that there isn’t enough food-grade recycled plastic locally available in the UK to switch to 100% rPET across our entire range,”
I have at least one product
> Frosch packaging is 100% recycled plastic 
Open questions would be: how much use can be replaced with recyclable variants on the application side? (perhaps some use cases are not doable with PET?) How much use can be replaced on the supply side? (can only a fraction of the crude extracted from the ground enter that PET cycle or does a percentage of the extracted mass have to become other kinds of plastics that are inherently unrecyclable?)
And as long as any of those questions stay answered "not all" and we are still burning some of the extracted crude for energy: how much efficiency does that energy conversion lose when the crude takes a detour as un-recyclable plastics application between getting extracted from the ground and ending up in the atmosphere after burning? If that efficiency loss is small, un-recyclable plastics use can be environmentally cheap if it happens within the envelope of unavoidable energy use and vice versa.
(edit: mis-posted before)
There are also ABS, PVC and many others — construction, textiles, shoes, asphalt, consumer goods. But they are not sold as recyclable.
EDIT: can we incinerate trash instead of burning oil? It is a controversial topic.
Would it produce less CO2 than glass? Assuming green energy no, but in such case we could sequence carbon from air. Would it require less energy than recycling? I don't think so.
E.g., I'm adding PVC cable and pipe ducting in various areas of my house, and am using polycarbonate discs as spacers for shelf uprights on an uneven wall. Both will stay in situ at least until I move (which I have no plans to do at present).
In many parts of the world even the question of incinerating trash instead of coal is still meaningful and that one should be far less controversial.
Still questions remain
* Should we mark it as clean energy?
* Should we subsidy it? Or should we subsidy recycling?
It's been something of a disaster, because of the way it's changed how individuals "recycle". The bins are frequently full of contaminated and non-recyclable materials that the facility's equipment is incapable of sorting back out. Since it's all commingled in the collection truck, one person who's sloppy about how they recycle can spoil not only their own recycling efforts, but those of their neighbors as well. In my own neighborhood, the recycle bins are frequently full of things like greasy pizza boxes, single-use paper cups, EPS, even yard waste and broken (particleboard) furniture.
Chicago's current program is an illustrative example. After the city introduced it, the percentage of waste Chicagoans placed in the recycle bins roughly doubled, while the percentage of Chicago's waste that actually gets recycled was halved.
To make people want to recycle you need to positively enforce it. If you goto a negative (such as a tax or fine) the incentive to do it falls off quickly. America used to recycle/reuse tons of stuff. Pepsi and Coke figured out a decent cost to their system was the reuse of their bottles. So they funded groups that worked against that. People would put a deposit on the bottles and containers. If you returned it you got the deposit back. If you tossed it someone else usually would find it and return it and get the deposit. It was a positive incentive. Instead now we have this weird thing where companies produce garbage and blame the customers for not 'taking care of it'. We have no real reason to do so other than feeling good about yourself. In some cases the ability and economic reality is not really there.
Most single stream systems are basically 2 trucks. One picks up the garbage. The other picks up the recycling. Garbage goes straight to the dump. The recycling goes to a sort center. They dump it all out on large conveyor belts with a bunch of people standing next to it picking out what they can and slicing open any bags/boxes they see. Pulling anything that is obviously not for the stream (pizza boxes, magazines etc). The magnets pull out anything metal. The plastics and glass are sorted out usually by weight color and symbol if they have the machinery for it. Otherwise it is manual. This all takes time and money. If you are making 50cents for a 2ton bail of plastic the economics is not there. But if you say make 500 dollars for a bail then maybe it is there.
In a neighborhood I once lived in the recycling guy decided he was not going to pick up anything except pop cans and newspaper. Everyone was mostly recycling correctly. Suddenly my neighbors and I had 2x the garbage to deal with. They all dumped it into the other bin and never recycled again for years. It took only one small negative thing to change from 'happy to help' to 'meh not doing it'. The boxes they had it in were obvious. One week everyone was doing it, then almost none. I would drive around the neighborhoods near mine and he had done it there too. They had to change the way they pickup garbage to undo what 1 guy did in 1 day.
At one place I lived, I watched the truck come along and they just dump both bins in the same section of the truck. So you've got me agonizing over which bin to sort things into and then the waste management people just re-combine them. I guess I'm the sucker here!
As usual, the USA's un-coordinated "let the states and local governments figure it out" strategy fails again.
In the town where my parents live, waste collection services , including recycling, are contracted out among several private companies. So the rules can vary among neighborhoods.
In Chicago, the city supplies recycling services for single family homes and apartment buildings with up to (if I recall correctly) 4 units, and anything larger than that must privately contract its own waste management. So the rules have the potential to vary from building to building.
This may provide incentive for either biodegradable or clean burning plastics in the market which could have lower taxes/deposits.
The side issue is plastic is wildly cheap to use and make. You can try to create tax systems that break that. But you just create resentment. A better way is to figure out how to make the other more sturdy reusable and recyclable materials better and cheaper than plastic. Reuse has the issue of re-collection/cleaning and that costs money. If you can crack that the whole market will skip plastic. Anything else tries to bend the market. It usually does not react well to that and creates undesirable side effects. The same thing happened in the coal markets with relation to nat gas. Natural gas became cheaper than coal and easier to use. Huge swaths of the energy market basically ran towards it. If something like that could happen in the plastics markets it would change the world.
The populace is simply too poorly educated, lazy, and propagandized to resist government policy.
> Coca-Cola to switch to 100% rPET
> December 2019 - in Sweden
> October 2020 - in the Netherlands
> first half of 2021 - in Norway 
> Coca-Cola currently has an average of 20% rPET in bottles sold in California.
> California will make it mandatory for plastic bottles to contain 50% recycled content by 2030. 
When I was growing up in NYC recycling was even part of the curriculum, but there were definitely contexts in which recycling was difficult (for example, sidewalks usually had street garbage cans, but not street recycling cans)
(St Louis. Kansas City has pretty decent service in this respect)
I am a tea and coffee drinker with a preferred mug and a travel mug which has a lid on it. If I go out for a stroll I fill the travel mug with coffee and take that.
Never do I wake up in the morning and think I need some drink in an aluminium can or plastic bottle. Nor do I wake up and wish my beverages were laced with corn syrup. Or advertised on TV.
If they stopped selling fizzy drinks tomorrow then I would not notice for a long time.
I am also out of the habit of drinking alcohol, however, when I do drink beer I prefer it to be in a pub where the glass is not just recycled but is re-used.
My additions to the recycling bins are small compared to those of a normal person that drinks beer, wine or other alcoholic beverages every day. I am also quite partial to citrus fruits so I have no aspiration to buy 'orange juice'.
For whatever reason I have not adopted the habits of buying these tin cans and plastic bottles in the first place. I am set in my ways and no amount of TV advertising will suddenly make me start the day with an energy drink or have a moment with Coca Cola mid afternoon. I just am not interested.
In the USA there is this culture of drinking fizzy drinks that the advertisers have been working on for decades. The default drink comes in a can or other single use container, not a preferred mug.
Separating waste might be a habit that needs to be worked on by some people, however, there is this deeper habit of using single use containers all the time.
The single use drinks are sold at massive profit.
I joke that restaurants are almost universally places that break even on food, if they are lucky, and make all their profit on hard/soft drinks.
Of course, who knows what happened to the recycling before that -- but right now, almost all of my recyclables go into the trash.
Also, most of the plastic the city takes, the rural location services won't.
Still, the stuff is still basically hydrocarbons either way - you should be able to break it down to it's constituents and refine it to something indistinguishable from the normal feed stock. Woukd it be horrendously energy intensive ? Most likely! But definitely doable.
BTW, this is why I'm skeptical to efforts to fix the environment just by saving energy. Sure, it should not be wasted but if we want to fix all damage that has veen done while still providing adequate standards of living for everyone, we beed to produce much much moore energy than we do now & do it in a clean way - most likely mega massive solar on enything, lots of nuclear fission and possibly massed off shore wind as well. Ideally backed by storage if/where possible.
Together with megaproject scale waste processing it should be possible to cleanup (and reuse!) all the old stuff while also handling all the new stuff comming in.
And the end result would be a nice clean plabet yet again, but this time with very robust energy and industrial infrastructure ready to face future challenges - or disasters!
Sounds like something one can aspire for rather than all the doom and gloom one sees some days.
And their about page, they use a form of pyrolysis: https://bravenenvironmental.com/braven-advantage/#advantage
Or ... just burn it for energy, and thereby pump less oil.
Sure you'll need more oil for more plastic, but you come out ahead because by burning the plastic you save some oil.
This whole plastic recycling stuff makes zero sense.
Did you use hot water to wash them?
Probably yes. Last time I did the math making them out of plastic saved energy vs heating water to wash glass (it was a close call, it depended on if you used a dishwasher vs sink washing).
So it might seem environmental friendly, but if you run the numbers it's not necessarily so.
Did your calculations include things like the extraction and distillation of the petroleum?
Beyond the environmental impact, there's also just the stupid, wasted effort that goes into pointlessly recreating the same thing over and over when you don't have to. In this case, the bottle goes back on the return trip from delivering new milk, which had to happen anyway. The milk ends up being the only thing delivered, on net. It's just strikingly elegant in its lack of wasted effort and material. It's not clear if it's a net win, though, given the delivery part, unless there are others on the same street signed up for the same day.
If anyone's in the Bay Area and is interested in delivery sort of like this, which also tries to set up regular delivery routes to minimize the marginal impact of a customer, I recommend checking out Farmstead (https://www.farmsteadapp.com/). They provide a similar milk delivery service by picking up Straus milk bottles and refunding the deposit. They also solved my biggest issue with most of the delivery services by picking up their reusable bags and having minimal packaging inside, but COVID put a stop to the bag pickup, at least temporarily.
Power markets are very liquid, so I tend to favour calculating your personal footprint based on the average co2 output of the grid, not the particular energy production method you've chosen. This makes it clear that even if you're paying for wind power, it's still better not to waste electricity.
The issue isn't getting bottles hot enough to kill germs. It's doing so in a way that doesn't aerosolize the bacteria and preventing all the other ways cross contaimination can occur.
And not only can they be reused, broken glass bottles can still be recycled.
And in the real world it's virtually never recycled, instead its crushed and used as landfill cover (they cover the trash each night to keep down vermin).
Not too hard to get that heat by burning fuel, but through wind power? Not sure how it'll be done.
Not dismissing it. I just really don't know.
The above is why aluminum is smelted in low energy cost areas. the above is why my company runs the foundry only for the night shift - the power company gives us a discount for using power at night when they need to keep the base load power plants running even though nobody is using power, which more than makes up for the extra pay we give to for working the night shift. (Now that wind is >50% of the electric mix in my state I wonder if the shifts are changing)
In fact most high temperature is generated from electric not fuel. If you burn something to get high temperatures the process is inefficient, turning the fuel into electricity and then the electricity into heat is more efficient (look up carnot efficiency)
In India, they do use them often for delivering milk and it's very sturdy.
If they choose to use steel or glass, and it doesn't get cleaned properly, and it ends up causing damage, then they might be liable for damages. Their liability insurance will deny coverage for damages because they knowingly used a method that had a higher probability of harm than using new plastic.
I'm sure there might be some way to ensure cleanliness of steel and glass, but it's probably cost prohibitive versus just using plastic, so it might cause the cost of the product to be too high to compete in the market.
It's probably a combination of all of these things, but the fact that no glass alternatives exist in the market in a similar price range as plastic options indicates there's an overall cost advantage for plastic.
Through there are limits for white glass this is much less the case for brown and green glass.
BUT, that 30%, it’s not post-consumer recycled plastic.
It’s the manufacture grinding up the runners, sprues, and bad parts. In the industry it’s called “regrind”. 
So if they were trying to tell you it was post-consumer, that was probably misleading.
(Products that use post-consumer recycled plastic will almost always say so, as it is a marketing angle)
An interesting point to consider here is that if oil production ever goes down for whatever reason and virgin plastic prices go up as a result, post-consumer plastic recycling becomes a more attractive business prospect.
Hopefully people can find good stuff to do with the heaps of shite we've already created.
Theres a guy in the UK that got started making skateboards out of this plastic, and showing people how to do it. Looks like they branched out. https://preciousplastic.com/
Some other companies jumping on the wagon train too. https://wasteboards.com/about/
This could just be more greenwashing, but it's inspiring.
The detergents, water and heat needed for cleaning alone have a higher environmental impact than the few drops of oil needed to make a plastic bottle.
Plastic waste is a big problem for sure, but switching to glass is not the solution.
Why would you want it to? Being inert is a good thing if you put it underground: no water contamination, no gas being released. But why put it in a landfill when you could reuse or recycle it?
> and has limits on how often it can be re-used as well.
What are these limits?
I wonder if there is a country where the laws are so structured that you could class action sue for the value of the time lost.
What I don't understand is why governments and councils continued to go along with this, to collect it all separately and then just send most of it to be burnt or landfill, the cost surely wasn't worth it. My Freedom of information act request to my council about plastic recycling was eye opening, just 3.2% of the plastic put into recycling correctly was actually recycled. They know full well this is pointless and yet it continues.
Just a small fraction - way less that 1/3 - can be used in recycling and it makes the resulting plastic a lot weaker and limited in uses.
I would imagine for something like plastic for food or water bottles might need to be new.
and then there are prions:
Plastic just isn't good for reuse, it is not robust.
The Just Salad restaurant chain in NYC will sell you a reusable plastic salad container that you can wash and bring to them to prepare your meal in and there doesn't seem to be any issue with food safety regarding those bowls. It's heavier duty than the clear disposable ones they give you otherwise.
There's certainly a usable life to anything, plastic will degrade over multiple washes and being battered with utensils. I'd expect well used ones would need to be retired but it should still be better than the current situation where they are primarily single use.
I doubt that many people sit down and weigh the pros and cons dispassionately. Most of the time it is politicians making political capital and shrill activists wanting us to "think of the children"; basically, ill-conceived and costly theatre.
In other words, isn’t the use of plastics replaces potential carbon emission via burning of oil?
Unless you mean turning co2 into oil to make plastic or something? Which is itself weird for the energy requirement.
You could make it carbon negative if you converted CO2 gas into plastic, but the energy requirements to do so are enormous. It is the same problem with fertilizer production. We could make synthetic fertilizer from the air, but it requires so much more energy to the already immensely energy intensive production process that you don't actually gain anything.
If the energy needed was all clean energy, and we had enough of it, we could make carbon negative plastics. But that is like ridiculously cheap electricity to the point where residential power costs would be measured in like 50 cents per year, minus power line upkeep.
I was dragged to a recycling plant with a bunch of curious engineers from Google a long time ago. The takeaway was that is was a giant scam- we can't recycle glass, paper is iffy, msot of the stuff is meh, but aluminum is ok. Trash trucks literally pulled up to the plant and removed the "unrecycleable" waste.
We were all so pissed we went into software, when one could literally just put trash into a different container with a green/blue color, and thus purify and bless it, and then send it to a dump.
The part we missed was the ships just taking all this trash to China and Bangladesh.
Just because plastic is a scam doesn't necessarily mean everything else recycled is. Scrap metal is big business. Old rubber tires get shredded and vulcanized into new products.
It’s also not really saving any energy or valuable resources, and glass is heavy and fragile.
(Which of course uses fossil fuels for the bitumen; possibly even more than the equivalent mass of Portland cement concrete.)
I'm not aware of any other significant uses for recycled glass.
The only caveat is colored glass can only really be used to make the same color glass (at least economically).
Metals, Glass and paper are profitable to be recycled, plastic a bit less so, but still doable.
But in EU there are a lot of programs to cut taxes or subsidize recycling so maybe that’s actually working?
If this one was 'safe' until it wasn't, why do you think a newer kind of plastic is going to be safe? Plus now you have bought twice as many containers.
Narrator: they weren't
They had to do a big mea culpa and then scramble to change their product line later in the game than they could have.
And then there was an organic food company (Muir) that dragged their feet on switching the liners for their canned tomatoes and sauces (you may recall that acids make the leaching worse) and pissed a lot of people right off.
Whitney Webb is arguably the premier investigative journalists of our age. Any publication that doesn't source her work is simply not credible.
I get it, plastic can't be recycled profitably and we should be using way less. But one of the reasons its so terrible to recycle is because of how poorly it's sorted.
How much time or money does it cost to not put plastic bottles in the paper bin? How much are you going to earn in that time to donate?
 https://www.npr.org/transcripts/739893511 "Thomas says we probably have thousands of years of landfill space left in the U.S. And even hardcore environmentalists reluctantly agree that, yeah, we have a lot of space left. But people thought we were running out of space, and that was what mattered."
> Car tires and synthetic clothing are major sources of plastic pollution .
Check out nice infographics 
Landfill isn't a perfect solution for plastic waste, especially if it isn't well managed. But it is, on the balance of factors, one of the better options available to us currently.
So I suspect that in practice plastics sent to landfills are effectively sealed from the environment, at least in most Western countries.
It’s a different issue in countries with less land (Japan being the most extreme one) where landfill is just too expensive because land is expensive. But the US has lots of unused and cheap land that nobody would notice if you added a well-run landfill to.
Quite a bit more of that kind of thing expected with the increase in extreme weather events from climate change. In Westland alone there are another 12 at-risk old landfill sites. It's estimated that the cost of preventing further spills from the one already-open landfill alone is ~2.3M. In an economically depressed region like Westland it won't be funded, and they're far from the only region in NZ that's facing this problem. Just the first to have experienced a spill event.
Unfortunately the purely-for-profit structure of these long-term ventures can mean that there is no money to cover the cleanup if things go really wrong, depending on who owns the site. I think you need to look at some sort of cleanup fund in escrow as a precondition for building sites like this, which should incentivize improvements in safety measures too.
For reference this was the discussion that happened around it on HN then https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=20433851
I could care less about the space personally, I think that’s a non-issue, but let’s not romanticize plastic as being harmless or somehow good for us. The danger of this argument is that, like recycling, it encourages more plastic use and more plastic waste, rather than committing to doing what we most need, which is to stop using so much of it, especially for single-serving, single-use convenience, where viable alternatives don’t just exist but have been widely used.
We can sequester carbon best by not pulling it out of the ground, plastic production and distribution uses a lot, and putting it in the landfill doesn’t exactly make up for it.
Plastic production has toxic byproducts, and leeches toxic waste into the ground & water. By “isn’t too terrible for the environment”, what are we comparing to? It’s pretty bad compared to a lot of the actionable alternatives we have.
Not digging up more sequestered carbon, and utilizing long-term-stable methods of re-sequestering that which has already been released is needed. Landfilling (after, if necessary for the type of plastic being handled, appropriate treatment/encapsulation) is an appropriate tool to bring to bear.
In terms of plastic in circulation, what alternative handling do you have in mind?
* right now way to much seems to just end up in the ocean or blowing around. Good luck getting 7bn people to properly dispose of their trash...
* I don't think you can call it sequestering carbon if the carbon was never in the air to start with. And that's assuming no one starts burning their trash
* you still need to extract a lot of oil to make that plastic. That means emissions and pollution and sending money to shitty regimes. Then you have to process the oil into plastic with more emissions and pollution etc.
I don't think anyone serious thinks all plastic should be banned. It just needs to be used more responsibly. I bought some ham today. Each slice had a plastic sheet separating it from the others (why?). Then 6 slices were in a plastic packet. I got a twin pack so that was 2 packs wrapped in more plastic. Then the cashier looked at me like I was crazy when I declined a plastic bag to carry it in. Do we really need 4 layers of non-reusable protection from cooked ham? Could paper or reusable plastic not have done at least some of those jobs? I think we're still stuck with conspicuous consumption models from the 80s where people wanted that. I don't want that.
More generally, I agree about landfill.
Thanks for reading
If we're talking pollution and climate change, imo these debates around plastic are all pointless distractions from the cold brutal fact that our westernised high-energy lifestyles are not sustainable, and certainly not scalable to a world with 10 billion consumers.
We can either get used to living at a standard closer to 1920s Europe in energy use (re flight, transportation), get comfortable with the idea that the wealthier billion or so of us will be much better off than the bottom 9, or wait for most of mankind to die climate-related deaths.
We need to massively reduce single-use plastics.
Even in advanced landfill-having countries, single-use plastics end up as litter in the environment, but the millions of tons per year. I've personally picked up 500 bags of garbage on 4 different continents. Landfills or not, it's everywhere.
So tossing plastic in the recycle bin is plausibly an environmental net negative.
If you put it in landfill in the US, it’s definitely in landfill. If you “recycle” it, it may get shipped to China (or now Cambodia) and then dumped somewhere.
 https://www.mdpi.com/2076-3298/7/10/73/htm indicates that a lot of the coastal debris is plastic bags, while a lot of the offshore debris is fishing nets
Portions of that garbage will eventually make it to an ocean. Especially plastics due to the simple fact that it floats.
So that’s more of a reason to just discard plastic.
Cardboard and paper products recycle pretty well. So does aluminum and some glass bottles.
We need to use more glass bottles and other reusable containers when we go shopping.
The Canadian government is planning to ban single use plastics like bags and containers in 2021 and I’m on board. Even if it costs more it’s just the right thing to do.
Are you sure this is true? Searching now, I seem to find claims that the majority of recycled glass is often made into new containers as one would expect. Here, for example, is a source that says "Up to 90% of glass collected via multi-stream recycling programs becomes new glass products": https://ourhappyplanet.org/glass-recycling/.
Obviously, "up to" is weasel-speak, but I found some other sites making similar although slightly lower claims. Also, there is a distinction between "single stream" and "multi stream" recycling, with this source claiming that the percentage for "single stream" is only 45%. Do you know of better numbers? Or economic arguments for why clean glass would not be recycled?
The only solution to this is to enact taxes on the sale of fossil fuels so high that it forces people to consume less, and/or makes reuse economical.
I'd propose that we tax the hell out of manufacturers' that won't accept delivery of things they manufactured (be it packaging or the products themselves--in whatever state). To avoid this tax they must also meet transparency guidelines for how inbound waste of this sort is disposed of.
This way the "how do we deal with the waste?" problem is handled by the same people who decide what materials to use in the first place.
We use the tax money to set up municipal recycling facilities that use the bar codes on the waste to sort it based on who made it, and instead of shipping it to third world countries they ship it there instead.
I'd like to see the cost of waste and re-use placed entirely on producers. If you sell something you have to accept it's waste back. I think we would see a big shift to reusable durable containers.
Yes, this is correct, although, it is also important to note that the reason why plastic is so "cheap" is because the externalities of it are not captured in the price. To put this in a different perspective, it is best to think of plastic as having a price that is below its costs. Plastic today has a low price. At the same time, the world is becoming filled with it. This accumulation is developing severe and systemic long term consequences. Reverting the damage is extremely difficult, expensive, and some damage may be irreversible, such as the loss of life and ecosystems. The externalities produced by plastics can be seen as a form of long term debt. In this way, it makes it clear that plastic is not all that cheap. In fact, it's quite expensive.
So how can we alter this behavior? I'll venture on my own here by suggesting a similar proposal by Professor Nordhaus and his book The Climate Casino, which is to capture the cost of the externalities into the price through the use of taxation. Carbon taxes is the most supported form of reducing carbon emissions by economists. I wouldn't be surprised if the same support exists for reducing our plastic production. If the production of plastic is taxed at the bottom of the supply chain, thus making it more costly compared to alternative materials, then we should expect an automatic market restructure that will naturally phase it out.
Maybe we do trial runs of these taxes or something? Has that been done before? A/B testing on public tax money?
If you account for all the externalities recycling (except for metal) is terrible for the environment.
People only do it because it "feels good".
If you actually cared about the environment, metal should be recycled, and everything else burned for energy.
The problem is that this system at scale would require a widely accepted standard of "container", otherwise people would just accumulate an endless number of different containers for different restaurants so nothing ends up being reused.
At some point last year, one of the places started selling glass bowls and inciting people to reuse them. They were pretty nice too, I actually went and bought one for my own use.
Most of those places' customers are people working in the local offices. So it's doable for them to wash the bowls and bring them back for another salad another day. I know at least one of the other salad bars would put your salad in your own bowl, so you wouldn't even be stuck going to the same place over and over.
It didn't really catch on with most people.
Having your own bowl won't give you any kind of discount at all. So I expect that aside from some people who actually want to do something for the environment, pretty much no one bothers to wash the bowl and drag it back to the salad place "for no reason". I think this also contributes to people's impression that plastic really is cheap (they're giving it away for free !) and that it's not really a problem for them to solve.
I specifically like the idea of zero waste stores where you bring your own containers to fill. Not only do you eliminate waste, reusable and sealable containers are so much nicer than what most products come in.
Plastic wrapped items make it very easy for customers to shop themselves with minimal interaction from staff and for the store to still guarantee cleanliness standards. I can only imagine that people coming in with their own containers will require more staff to follow proper protocols in dispensing items and whatnot, resulting in higher costs.
How would the food arrive at the store?
I used to buy food from a store with bulk bins. The store has a program where you can order the bags that they fill the bins from and pick those up directly--strong paper bags, usually around 25lbs. Lately I've found a mill and some other businesses nearby sell these bags of locally grown staple foods. By switching to the "upstream" bags, I've been able to choose local farms I want to support, nearly eliminate going to the supermarket (for produce I have a small, nearly-wild garden and do some foraging), and pay less for fresher food. Would it be possible to eliminate the 25lb bags from the loop? Probably, but they definitely reduce the friction of buying their contents, and they're made from a small amount (square-cube law) of material that makes a good sheet mulch.
Large, also reusable containers.
If they went as far as to sanitize the containers with super hot water or something like that so as to not use chemicals, I would be so happy.
Paper and glass also make economic sense to recycle. However, paper recycling is limited to making egg cartons, paper shopping bags, pizza boxes, and other low quality items. A lot of glass that gets recycled is actually crushed and used for fill, though most is actually recycled.
Plastic recycling largely meant putting it in container ships with other garbage and sending it off to Asia where it gets buried or burned. Once Asian countries said STOP DOING THIS a year or two ago, plastic "recycling" no longer made any sense.
It is still plastic, non-biodegradable, single-use, garbage.
Watch out how Canada does.
Most people don't know how to properly separate their garbage.
We would be better off if everyone just produced less trash full stop.
Why is everything in the super market wrapped in plastic 2-3 times?
If used plastic can be safely stored for just a cent but glass takes someone 5 minutes to reuse, your probably making things worse however you measure it.
Why not use plastic once and then put it into a landfill?