A p*ndemic of plastic

Louis

Private citizen
Messages
16,148
https://www.economist.com/internati...9-has-led-to-a-*********-of-plastic-pollution

I know several of us have posted about the negative effects on the environment from the increased consumption of plastic and single-use products, and the figures are absolutely staggering. Is there any realistic solution?

Whether on the foreshore of the Thames or the deserted beaches of Soko, the planet is awash with ********* plastic. Data are hard to come by but, for example, consumption of single-use plastic may have grown by 250-300% in America since the ******** took hold, says Antonis Mavropoulos of the International Solid Waste Association (ISWA), which represents recycling bodies in 102 countries. Much of that increase is down to demand for products designed to keep *********-19 at bay, including masks, visors and gloves. According to a forecast from Grand View Research, the global disposable-mask market will grow from an estimated $800m in 2019 to $166bn in 2020.

Staggering though such figures are, personal protection is only part of the story. Lockdowns have also led to a boom in e-commerce. [....] Much of what is bought online comes wrapped in plastic—and the bad kind at that. Goods are often packaged in plastic comprising several layers. That keeps the contents safe in aeroplane holds and on delivery lorries. It also makes it nearly impossible to recycle the plastic. At the same time, the locked-down masses have been consuming home deliveries from restaurants in record numbers. First-quarter sales at Uber Eats, one of America’s biggest restaurant-delivery apps, for example, rose by 54% year on year. Every extra portion of curry, or pot of garlic dip, means more plastic waste.

If the public’s increasing appetite for single-use plastic worries environmentalists, then so too does its diminishing inclination to recycle materials that can be reused. In Athens, for example, there has been a 150% increase in the amount of plastic found in the general-waste stream, says Mr Mavropoulos. Anecdotal evidence from ISWA members suggests this is a worldwide trend. An unwillingness to recycle might be explained by people’s nervousness about venturing out to put waste in recycling bins. Or it might just be that lockdowns have put more pressing matters into their minds, prompting a slip in their diligence.

*********-19 has led to a glut in plastic waste in other ways. For one, the ********* caused a crash in the oil price. Because petroleum is a major constituent of most plastics, they became cheaper to produce, says David Xi of the University of Warwick. That in turn gave firms less incentive to use the recycled stuff. But the growth of plastic rubbish is mainly caused by the fact that municipalities around the world have curtailed their recycling schemes. Collections have been cut back and plants have been shut over fears about spreading the contagion. Worries about contaminated rubbish have also made some refuse collectors and sorters nervous about going into work (the ***** can survive for about 72 hours on plastic).

But what worries Mr Parsons is that years spent trying to change the public’s attitude towards single-use plastic might now be lost. Preliminary findings from research his team has conducted suggest that the public has reverted to its earlier insouciance about plastic waste. The ********* has already encouraged the rolling back of anti-plastic legislation, such as taxes on single-use grocery bags in some American states, or a ban on plastic straws in Britain. Ironically, that may even help the climate. But just as *********-19 has scarred families and harmed livelihoods across the world, its effect on the planet will linger, too, in the world’s landfills and oceans.
 

Aerobicidal

Shut that door.
Messages
11,157
Yes: End all restrictions immediately so we are all free and no longer locked up due to a left-wing conspiracy sham. As soon as that happens, all citizens of the world will immediately become environmentally conscious because they care about the well-being of society as a whole and are never self-centered.
 

Garden Kitty

Tranquillo
Messages
28,917
My town just instituted a ban on plastic bags in grocery stores and in February the local stores all had giveaways of reusable bags. By March the ban was rescinded and by April most of the stores banned any sort of reusable bag. I haven't seen plastic gloves tossed in the street or by grocery carts like a number of people have mentioned, but the store was giving out plastic gloves to everyone so I'm sure they were being tossed in the garbage can if not in the street.
 

Aussie Willy

Hates both vegemite and peanut butter
Messages
24,790
Plastic is one of my biggest bugbears. But not only plastic litter in general. For all those people who dispute climate change, this is something there is no denying about. But I do practise what I preach and try to manage my rubbish output and recycle as much as I can. Hardly any of my rubbish at home goes into landfill. And I take my keep cup to get a hot chocolate.

Over the weekend I went away. Though an amazing and pristine old growth forest national park all I saw cans and coffee cups along the roadside. These are decisions people have made to throw them out of their car windows because there is nowhere to stop. At a park I stopped at I picked up rubbish along the roadside and in the park because people are too lazy to put it in a bin.

And then walking along a beach the amount of plastic rubbish was incredible. This is the kind of stuff that is eaten by birds and sealife. Next time I will take a bag to collect the rubbish.

Companies should stop generating plastic. But that doesn't excuse the rest of the population who couldn't give two sh*ts about the environment and take personal responsibility for their actions.
 

vesperholly

Well-Known Member
Messages
12,798
NY state's plastic bag ban (enacted in March) definitely isn't being followed by most stores. Wegmans, Trader Joe's, Whole Foods and Target have paper bags, almost every other store I've been to has plastic still.

Wegmans sent me a survey the other day about their bulk foods section and safety. I love bulk food sections and bringing my reusable containers. I do not need $10 of walnuts. Even the bins with the pull-down handles - no scooping food needed - have been emptied at stores.

"But what worries Mr Parsons is that years spent trying to change the public’s attitude towards single-use plastic might now be lost."

I agree :wuzrobbed
 

once_upon

Vaccinated
Messages
19,474
We do take out at least two times a week, sometimes three, supporting our restaurants. We get lots of plastic tableware even when we request no. We have two ziploc large containers of individual condiments (ketchup, soy sauce, mustard) even if we request none. Plus all the plastic or styrofoam containers

We try to recycle, but I'm not sure that the plastic actually gets recycled because I understand there is no place that actually does recycle once it gets to waste management plants? Yeah I can feel good about separating it and putting it in the appropriate containers at my curbside. But is it really happening?
 

Japanfan

Well-Known Member
Messages
24,756
Though an amazing and pristine old growth forest national park all I saw cans and coffee cups along the roadside. These are decisions people have made to throw them out of their car windows because there is nowhere to stop.

One can keep a garbage collector in one's car - I have done so for years.
 

Aussie Willy

Hates both vegemite and peanut butter
Messages
24,790
I would recommend if you really want to learn about waste and what we can do about it is to watch a show that was made in Australia called "The War on Waste" on ABC TV. Not only talks about the problem but shows solutions.
 

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