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Nov. 25th, 2008



The Story of Stuff

Hello :)

I think someone posted this a while back, but a neat little documentary is the Story of Stuff.


One point I noted is that for each waste can of trash in the US, it takes 70 waste cans in the production cycle to produce. Her point being that even if we recycled 100% of (in our case, plastic) waste, we would still be producing far more waste simply by continuing our lifestyle.

Which is why I am concerned to not only recycle and re-use plastic, but to actually reduce it's use.

He says, looking at the desk beside him where an empty plastic packet of biscuits (cookies) sits.

If I'm gonna keep eating their biscuits, I better start lobbying them to change their packaging.


Sep. 25th, 2008



Green electronics.

In lieu of xhile’s post on non-plastic laptops (there are non-plastic desktop components as well), I thought it was reasonable to conduct a small Google raid on green electronic companies (those that either offer services for the reuse and recycling of their electronic components or reuse and recycle other’s electronics for the creation of their products) and green electronics (products made to use less energy, and are made from sustainable and recyclable materials). This is what I found:
I do plan to write a conclusion of the situation at present, but I thought that this could stand on its own for now.

Sep. 24th, 2008



Losing Your Bottle

I have some information, and two questions.

UK plastic facts from a recycling company - http://www.southlakelandrecycling.co.uk/fan_plastic_facts.html

* Recycling a single plastic bottle can conserve enough energy to light a 60W bulb for up to 6 hours.
* 9.1 billion plastic bottles were disposed of in 2002 with only 360 million of them being recycled.
* In Britain we use about 275,000 tonnes of plastic bottles in our homes every year- that's about 15 million bottles every day.
* It takes about 450 years just for one plastic bottle to break down in the ground!
* An average 323 plastic bags are taken into our homes every year and it takes 500 years to decay when sent to landfill.
* It takes about 25 recycled plastic drinks bottles to make one fleece jacket.
* Only 2.5% of plastic bottles are presently recycled in Europe.

US plastic facts from http://earth911.org/recycling/plastic-bottle-recycling/plastic-bottle-recycling-facts/

* In 2006, Americans drank about 167 bottles of water each, but only recycled an average of 23 percent. That leaves 38 billion water bottles in landfills.
* Bottled water costs between $1 and $4 per gallon and 90 percent of the cost is in the bottle, lid and label.
* According to the Beverage Marketing Corp, the average American consumed 1.6 gallons of bottled water in 1976. In 2006 that number jumped to 28.3 gallons.
* It takes over 1.5 million barrels of oil to manufacture a year’s supply of bottled water. That’s enough oil to fuel 100,000 cars.
* Eight out of 10 plastic water bottles become landfill waste.
* In 2007 we spent $16 billion on bottled water. That’s more than we spent on iPods or movie tickets.
* Plastic bottles take 700 years before they begin to decompose in a landfill.
* If everyone in NYC gave up water bottles for one week they would save 24 million bottles from being landfilled; one month would save 112 million bottles and one year would save 1.328 billion bottles from going into the landfill.

I found the similarities and differences interesting. Bear in mind, of course, that not all information on the net is reliable.

eg, the UK site says plastic bottles take 450 years to decompose. The US site says plastic bottles take 700 years before they begin to decompose. What's the difference? Firstly, I don't know which studies they relied on. However the difference could be explained by ground versus landfills. Landfills can actually inhibit plastic decomposition as UV light is a significant factor. Heat also helps, although in my experience landfills can be very warm due to the decomposition. Landfill runoff is also 10 times the potency of raw sewerage.

Question 1: What other similarities or differences strike you?

More facts about PET and HDPE - the plastic in most bottles http://www3.niu.edu/recycling/alum_facts/page4.html

An activity/handout for kids, with a couple of facts adults may find interesting, eg New Zealand recycles approximately 21% of plastics found in the waste stream. This begs the question: What happens to the other 79% ?


Question 2: Given this information, what suggestions can you make for how we live?

listening to Canadian Protoculture | Sunbeam (Helix speedy mix)

Sep. 22nd, 2008



Time for Action

I'm still learning lots about plastic, and how to reduce plastic use. But I know enough now. I want to take action.

One of the things I do is DJ, and although I use vinyl records I also use a laptop which is highly visible in front of me. I already use a wooden stand, yay! A non-plastic laptop would be a great statement to the audience that I support reduced plastic use. At present I'm considering either a wooden or a metal case. I will have to weigh up strength and weight, among other things, like wood splitting under sun or damp conditions. But the wooden ones are very pretty.

Pictures and linksCollapse )
I wonder if I can get some anti-plastic stickers made? Who would want some? Anyone know anything about getting stickers made from recycled materials?

It occurred to me the plastic packaging industry will work to oppose what we're doing once they hear about it. Useful allies might be the paper, glass and metal packaging industries.

listening to Trentemoller | Always Something Better (remix)

Sep. 17th, 2008



Good News: The Cost Of Petro-Plastic Is Sky Rocketing

quoted directly from http://www.treehugger.com/files/2008/06/cost-petro-plastic-sky-rocketing.php

8 June 2008

The 1967 film "The Graduate" kicked off a 40-year, polymer's-in-everything boom with the career advice given to Dustin Hoffman - to 'base his career on the plastics industry'. Today's burgeoning prices for natural gas & oil mark new trends: accelerating reliance on natural ingredients for product formulations; and, industrial processes that are significantly more reliant on bio-based feedstock.

Surging oil prices are beginning to cut into the profits of a wide range of American businesses, pushing many to raise prices and maneuver aggressively to offset the rising cost of merchandise made from petroleum...The Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company is trying to adapt. Its raw material of choice now is natural rubber rather than synthetic rubber, made from oil...Natural oils have been substituted for ingredients made from petroleum; for example, palm oil now goes into a variety of laundry soaps. But like rubber, the cost of palm oil and other natural commodities is rising.
Expect big reductions in packaging mass, too, as packaging costs overcome the marketing benefits of eye-level bill-boarding. Good by Mr Splashy Package; hello Mr. Concentrate.

More powerful "green" corollary trends will soon be in play. Waste-to-energy plants (trash burners) will be competing with reclaimed polymer chip buyers for access to plastics in solid waste.

Chinese recycle plants will be competing with American and European recyclers for raw material.

Ultimately there will be an ethical debate over whether is is socially acceptable to burn industrially valuable petro-plastics, releasing greenhouse gases instead making them "food" for new products.

Instead of relying on personal redemption as the impetus for curbside recycling, the market will hunger for "waste" polymer and pay us to separate. We'll all marvel as the national plastic recycle-rates run up from a few percent, to closer to 90%.

The trend of radically increasing cost of petroleum-based fuel, layered on top of the corollary of rising costs of plastic, prospectively can reshape industrial markets, closing recycle loops, and making them increasingly small.

All good things Mr Robinson.

Sidebar: We will have to keep on guard against unintended consequences, such as high-value pesticide containers entering a plastics recycle stream. And "locally grown" bio-based feedstocks will be needed, competing for agricultural acreage normally dedicated to grains. This, we predict, is where the use of genetically modified agricultural plants will find social acceptability.

Via::New York Times, Oil Prices Raise Cost of Making Range of Goods Image credit::Metalex Products, "...plastic chips that come from battery casings".

see original article for links.

listening to Blondie | Rapture

Sep. 15th, 2008

kermit flail


Good News!

While we need to educate ourselves about the negative stuff going on in the plastic world, i think we also need to educate ourselves, celebrate and support the many positive initiatives that are going on. It's not all doom and gloom.

A company that specialises in replacing petroleum plastics with biodegradable packaging, eg for CD cases.
A subsidiary of Univenture, they have offices in both Ohio, USA and Dublin, Ireland.

Another company that provides products based in corn oil plastic, eg compostable cups and plates.

Fujitsu to show laptop with wooden case, and investigating bio-plastics

I want one!

New Samsung phone handsets made from Corn

By the way, the US calls a plant "Corn" that the rest of the world calls something else. I'm confused as to which one it is. Can anyone enlighten me?

Anyone else got some happy plastic stories?

listening to: The Damned | New Rose, Darcy Clay | Jesus I Was Evil

Sep. 13th, 2008



Know thy enemy, and all that.

Cut for table beneath.Collapse )


Steampunk + Is Plastic Poisoning Our Food?

When I started this community, I was aware I'd probably have my opinions changed by new information, and by what we all discuss here. I say again, I love plastic as a tool. I'm currently typing this on a laptop which is probably 80% plastic. It wouldn't be as useful or practical without plastic.

This makes me wonder whether the steampunk aesthetic might actually be a way of the future. If we begin to return to objects made of wood, metal, pottery and other non-plastics the human environment may look and feel quite different. What do you think?

I've come across this 2003 article http://www.mindfully.org/Plastic/Plasticizers/Out-Of-Diet-PG5nov03.htm that talks about the constant leaching of dangerous substances from plastics. In particular, in packaged food.

When you eat or drink things that are stored in plastic, taste it, smell it, wear it, sit on it, and so on, plastic is incorporated into you. In fact, the plastic gets into the food and food gets into the plastic and you. So, quite literally, you are what you eat. . . drink. . . and breathe — plastic! These plastics are called "Food Contact Substances" by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), but until April 2002, they were called "Indirect Food Additives." The new name is cleansed of the implication that plastic gets into your food. In spite of this semantic deception, migration is a key assumption of the FDA.

According to Dr. George Pauli, Associate Director of Science Policy, FDA Office of Food Additive Safety, the regulations mandated in 1958 assume that all plastics migrate toxins into the food they contact. Migration is the movement of free toxins from plastic into the substances they contact — in this case it’s your food.

I'd be interested to hear some discussion from the community on this. Is this guy a scaremongerer, not backed up by credible science? Or is it just a bit too close for comfort?

listening to Sugababes | Round Round

Sep. 12th, 2008



Floating Plastic Garbage Soup Twice the Size of Texas

When I first read about an island of floating plastic garbage I was sceptical. Surely the amount of plastic garbage in the sea could not be this bad? But on researching, reputable journalists have reported on it.

PDF of LA Times article 2 August, 2006

From the San Francisco Chronicle October 19, 2007

Undated article by Thomas Hayden on www.mindfully.org - shows location and path of garbage in ocean currents.

Here's an article on boingboing from 2007. It's worth reading the comments too. http://www.boingboing.net/2007/10/22/floating-toxic-plast.html

What do you guys think about this?

listening to Opeth | Serenity Painted Death

Sep. 11th, 2008



How Much Plastic Is Actually Recycled?

Simple introduction to the major categories of recyclable plastic

More detailed article going briefly into some of the chemistry. Can anyone help improve this article?

Australian Plastics and Chemicals Industries Association - Facts About Plastics Recycling

Quoting their first answer:
Q. Is all plastics packaging recyclable?
A. Yes it is, but not all of it is recycled through the kerbside recycling scheme.

Seven misconceptions about Plastic and Plastic Recycling. Ecology Center (Berkely, CA, USA)
If you only read one thing, read this.

One of the causes: The negative impact of bottled water - News Article March 2005

Does anyone have stories about plastic recycling you'd like to share?

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