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Plastic ban - unforseen

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Old Thursday 9th January 2020, 07:07   #1
andyadcock
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Plastic ban - unforseen

As there always seems to be, there is an unfortunate downside to a plastic, packaging ban.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-51040155
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Old Friday 10th January 2020, 13:13   #2
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As there always seems to be, there is an unfortunate downside to a plastic, packaging ban.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-51040155
The downside is partly attributable to the lack of a coherent approach to coping with the disposal of compostibles and degradables, and that involves central funding spent and disbursed coherently. In turn, to succeed, that coherence requires understanding at political level of at least the fundamentals of the science involved and a willingness to invest in that strategy across the UK. You see where I'm going here, Andy...

Waste disposal generally has been in the 'too difficult' category for government and politicians for decades. It isn't helped at our level by local government, on seeing how popular the local sites for disposing by category are, deciding that instead of expanding the sites to cope with demand, instead are introducing charges for accepting the material while denying that the large increase in flytipping has anything to do with it!
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Old Friday 10th January 2020, 13:38   #3
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From what I've seen on tv, a great deal of it is hipped abroad anyway...........
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Old Saturday 11th January 2020, 12:53   #4
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Much less now that China will not take any waste that is not in a state to be a feedstock for reuse, or is unblemished (cardboard and office paper). Other countries are also following suit.

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Old Sunday 12th January 2020, 12:10   #5
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Much less now that China will not take any waste that is not in a state to be a feedstock for reuse, or is unblemished (cardboard and office paper). Other countries are also following suit.

Cheers
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I think that is a good policy. It is too easy for countries to ship their waste elsewhere and make it another country's pollution problem.

We are particularly bad at this in the UK and what we really should be doing is cleaning our act up so we don't feel the need to send our refuse abroad.
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Old Monday 27th January 2020, 09:20   #6
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The article, as it is usual nowadays, mixes unrelated things together. For example the diss of glass as "being more heavy and thus more polluting to transport" is at the level of surreal comedy. The problem of plastic packaging is not its effect on climate change, but its production of plastic waste, which is far more devastating to the environment that the tiny contribution the CO2 production associated with it.

But this is the same problem all over again: people want easy metrics, want to strive for a number that's higher or smaller than the other number, not to think about the details. That's how we got dieselgate and why why have our cities polluted by carcinogenic dust - by people stupidly pushing for every single gram of CO2 reduction from a miniscule source instead of pushing against the far more pressing issue of the increase of production of pollutant harmful to people standing around the car. That's also why we have so many crappy cameras with a lot of megapixels while a really good compact camera is hard to find etc...
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Old Monday 27th January 2020, 11:06   #7
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Originally Posted by opisska View Post
The article, as it is usual nowadays, mixes unrelated things together. For example the diss of glass as "being more heavy and thus more polluting to transport" is at the level of surreal comedy. The problem of plastic packaging is not its effect on climate change, but its production of plastic waste, which is far more devastating to the environment that the tiny contribution the CO2 production associated with it.

But this is the same problem all over again: people want easy metrics, want to strive for a number that's higher or smaller than the other number, not to think about the details. That's how we got dieselgate and why why have our cities polluted by carcinogenic dust - by people stupidly pushing for every single gram of CO2 reduction from a miniscule source instead of pushing against the far more pressing issue of the increase of production of pollutant harmful to people standing around the car. That's also why we have so many crappy cameras with a lot of megapixels while a really good compact camera is hard to find etc...

Haven't you missed the point?

Of course plastic pollution is the driving force behind the discontinued use but physical rather than atmospheric. The article is not stating or even suggesting that the proposed plastic ban is due to it's carbon emmisions

The article is considering how to replace plastic packaging and comparing the effects of a couple of obvious options. It's simply pointing out that removing plastic from the equation, may have unconsidered, not neccessarily related, consequences.

The ideal of course, would be to remove the plastic and replace it with something that doesn't do harm in other ways.
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Old Monday 27th January 2020, 11:08   #8
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Haven't you missed the point?

Of course 'plastic poluution', physical rather than chemical, is the driving force behind the discontinued use. The article is not stating or even suggesting that the proposed plastic ban is in relation to it's carbon emmisions

The article is considering how to replace plastic packaging and comparing the effects of a couple of obvious options. It's simply pointing out that removing plastic from the equation, may have unconsidered, not neccessarily related, consequences.

The ideal of course, would be to remove the plastic and replace it with something that doesn't do harm in other ways.
And then it, in like the second paragraphs, discounts glass as an alternative to plastic because lugging it around would create too much CO2, and it mentions climate effects in further places where they make no sense.

I haven't missed the point, but the authors of the article may have, at least partially.
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Old Monday 27th January 2020, 11:44   #9
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And then it, in like the second paragraphs, discounts glass as an alternative to plastic because lugging it around would create too much CO2, and it mentions climate effects in further places where they make no sense.

I haven't missed the point, but the authors of the article may have, at least partially.
Back in the day we had milk delivered by electric vehicles, in glass bottles that were returned for re-use (picked up by the milkman during the morning after's deliveries).

Progress, eh?

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Old Monday 27th January 2020, 11:46   #10
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And then it, in like the second paragraphs, discounts glass as an alternative to plastic because lugging it around would create too much CO2, and it mentions climate effects in further places where they make no sense.

I haven't missed the point, but the authors of the article may have, at least partially.
I honestly don't see where you're coming from on this?

It's a simple piece which aims to point out that there is no panacea and that replacing plastic with any of the obvious alternatives, has other undesired consequences.

I've seen the plastic in the Oceans all over the World and it's use does need to be scaled back but it's what people do with it after use that's the issue. People need to be encouraged to refill bottles and re-use bags, during my six week trek in the Himalayas, I purchased a 1L bottle of water and refilled it time after time, it lasted me the whole trip.

Imagine though, replacing every plastic recepticle in the world with glass, the fuel burn to get them anywhere would be so much more than it would be for plastic. Also the raw materials, I assume they still use sand to make glass and that has to come from somewhere at a time when reserves of sand in some places are being depleted for use in cement making. This would be irreversible, how would you replace sand in the environment, it's not like plantng trees.
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Old Monday 27th January 2020, 12:21   #11
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I am literally coming from reading the article. I think we both fully agree that plastic pollution in the environment is a huge problem. In the meanwhile, global warming is also a huge problem, but what really is the packaging contribution to it? Even if you, as you say, replace all plastic with glass, what would be the impact from having to burn more fuel to transport it? It would probably not be great, considering that transportation is already a small part of the overall greenhouse emissions and that a lot of transportation happens in bulk, not individually packaged pieces. For this reasons, I think we should consider making a small sacrifice in carbon emissions in order to fight the large crisis that's happening in plastic waste. Yet, the article doesn't follow this line of reasoning at all and instead makes the following statements:

"Glass bottles, for instance, are much heavier than plastic so are far more polluting to transport."
"Paper bags tend to have higher carbon emissions than plastic bags"
"We are aware that [by switching from plastic to other materials] we may, in some cases, be increasing our carbon footprint.”
"All responsible retailers agree that climate change needs to be at the heart of their business, whether that is sourcing products or changing packaging."

I consider all of these statements pretty ignorant, at least without quantifying how big the climate impact would be in comparison to how big is the impact of the waste. Climate change simply isn't the end all be all of environment protection and I see a risk that the fight against tiny irrelevant contributions to climate change will push back against real steps to limit plastic waste. Frankly, the best solution in many places might be to just burn all trash en masse - all plastics are almost perfect fuel, at the high temperatures used in mass waste energy use most of the burn really cleanly and you produce electricity and heat as a bonus. Literally almost everything is better than letting used plastics wander around the environment. But that would really need a change of thinking, because, god forbid that CO2 is produced ... For some reason we went from one extreme of burning fossils with no regard for anything to the other one in a span of a few decades and it has consequences. Again, a palpable consequence is the diesel engines, we have literally people dying from diseases related to diesel soot just because the fight against CO2 from cars, at the level of a fraction of a percent of the whole man-made production, took precedence instead of public health.

The sand argument seems valid, I have no information about that, but the article does not even mention it. Again, I was just commenting on the article linked and it not being very logically sound.
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Old Monday 27th January 2020, 13:31   #12
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I am literally coming from reading the article. I think we both fully agree that plastic pollution in the environment is a huge problem. In the meanwhile, global warming is also a huge problem, but what really is the packaging contribution to it? Even if you, as you say, replace all plastic with glass, what would be the impact from having to burn more fuel to transport it? It would probably not be great, considering that transportation is already a small part of the overall greenhouse emissions and that a lot of transportation happens in bulk, not individually packaged pieces. For this reasons, I think we should consider making a small sacrifice in carbon emissions in order to fight the large crisis that's happening in plastic waste. Yet, the article doesn't follow this line of reasoning at all and instead makes the following statements:
I give up......

No one is mentioning the contribution of plastic to CO2 emmisions, it's a simple matter that in replacing plastic with glass, a bigger carbon footprint results. In trying to end one problem, you end up contributing to another, that's the bottom line here.

All packaging has a direct effect on the climate as it has to be transported.
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Old Monday 27th January 2020, 13:34   #13
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That's the point, they don't have anything to do with each other and no one is suggesting they do!
The article you linked literally does as evidenced by the quotes I quoted from it in the previous post!
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Old Monday 27th January 2020, 13:41   #14
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The article you linked literally does as evidenced by the quotes I quoted from it in the previous post!
See my edit
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Old Monday 27th January 2020, 14:01   #15
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See my edit
Yeah, things have impacts. But nowhere in the article they make even an attempt to quantify how large the impact is and whether it is worth it or not, neither do you. Transportation contributes 20-25 percent depending on source to overall CO2 production. Now even more complicated is finding source on how much of that transport of people and how much is freight, as it differs globally, but it seems that freight is roughly a third or less. So we have 7-8% of global CO2 emissions from freight. A large amount of goods are transported without packaging or in large bulk and even with packaging, the majority is still the contents, so we are talking about a fraction of a per cent of the worldwide production of CO2. This is not "unforeseen consequences" and it's definitely not a reason to not abandon plastics as packaging.

Glass is obviously not the only option and is not viable for many things but the rather absurd example of replacing all plastics with glass is great in its simplicity. It shows how quick people are to jump to say "but what we shouldn't do X because it would impact climate" even though the impact may be tiny and the benefits large. I am not saying that we should replace plastics with glass, but I am saying that climate impact of packaging should be very far on the list of our priorities, simply because it has an overall small impact on climate, while having a large environment impact in other ways. The linked article repeatedly argues on the contrary and I think it's not only dumb but hurtful to the environment.
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Old Saturday 1st February 2020, 17:42   #16
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This is propaganda from the plastics and petroleum people. Within a decade there will be more plastic in the oceans than fish. Somehow people were able to go to the market and buy food prior to the introduction of plastics. People got meals in restaurants and did not need plastic straws or cups or salad bowls or styrofoam containers.

The problem is that very little that is labeled as being recyclable actually is or can be recycled. Plastic bottles are never recycled to become new plastic bottles. Metal cans and cardboard and paper are the only materials that truely get recycled to produce new cans and new cardboard and paper.

Going back 50 years the recycle centers were lucky to break even with free labor breaking the bottles into small fragments and then paying to ship the glass to a plant to be melted and made into new glass bottles. or jars.

Best to avoid plastic and glass containers and if buying something in glass to get the largest side you can manage as there is more glass compared to the product inside the smaller the container.
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Old Saturday 1st February 2020, 18:02   #17
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Back in the day we had milk delivered by electric vehicles, in glass bottles that were returned for re-use (picked up by the milkman during the morning after's deliveries).

Progress, eh?

John
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