While people, communities and organizations around the world realizes the magnitude of plastic pollution of our oceans today, and multiple actions are set in motion to do something about it, the plastic industry itself are stepping up to contribute to those efforts- they want to sweep their floors to prevent the plastic grains spilled during the process of manufacturing all those toxic plastic materials from leaking out into the oceans. Isn’t that beautiful?
Plastic resin pellet pollution is a type of marine debris originating from plastic particles utilized in manufacturing large-scale plastics. These pre-production plastic pellets are created separately from the user plastics they are melted down to form, and pellet loss is incurred during both the manufacturing and transport stages. Commonly referred to as nurdles, these plastics are released into the open environment, creating pollution in the oceans, rivers and on beaches. With thousands plastic industries world-wide, this loss of resins and nurdles is a significant source of plastic pollution.
In recent time the plastic industries have set themselves up with programs, standards and societies to educate their employees to not lose any plastic nurdles while transporting the nurdles and during manufacturing to plastic products: Operation Clean Sweep (OCS) is a product stewardship program of the American Chemistry Council’s (ACC) Plastics Division and The Society of the Plastics Industry (SPI). Created in 1992, OCS is an international program designed to prevent resin pellet loss and help keep pellets out of the marine environment. The goal of OCS is to implement good housekeeping and pellet containment practices to work toward zero pellet loss.
While plastic nurdle loss from the thousands of plastic factories is a significant contributor to plastic pollution of our marine environment, an even bigger contributor is of course all the nurdles, which are not lost during manufacturing, but is being made into plastic bottles, plastic bags, toys, plastic plates and covers for the car industry and much more.
To say it bluntly: it isn’t the spilled resin nurdles but the products of the manufacturing process itself, which is the main polluter of the oceans
The websites of the OCS member plastic companies do not fail to mention, that when all their plastic products end up in the environment it is of course due to the consumers, who are not thinking of the environment. This part of the pollution, they write, is entirely the responsibility of the consumers.
And so, they wash their hands. And it is up to the public, the governments, non-profit organizations or scientists to clean up the oceans.
We collect used clothes, which people donate in our drop off bins. Often people put lose clothes in our bins and we need to bag the clothes.
We are looking for an alternative to plastic bags. So, we have started researching that. The issue with plastic bags is, that they are very difficult or impossible to recycle.
Regarding recycling of plastic, a system of labelling plastics has been created in order to make it easier for recyclers. In USA for example 39 out of 50 states have adapted laws that require all plastic products to be labeled according to their recyclability. It is a system of the recycle triangle with the number 1 to 7 inside the triangle. The number 1 and 2 are the easiest to recycle and the number 7 is almost impossible to recycle. Most plastic bags are either number 4 or 7, and we have not been able to find any company or organization, which is recycling plastic bags. Below find the recycling codes 1 to 7.
Alternative to plastic bags.
The plastic industries market different kind of plastic bags for us consumers.
We found companies selling biodegradable- and others selling compostable- plastic bags. At first, we thought that biodegradable and compostable is the same. But it is not.
Biodegradable plastic bags.
What we have found from our research is, that this is just somebody “green-washing you” Greenwashing can be a very effective marketing strategy. It’s used to create the illusion that a company or organization has taken environmental factors into consideration when creating their products or services. It’s important to watch out for products that are labeled as biodegradable because you are likely being greenwashed. In practice, almost all chemical compounds and materials are subject to biodegradation processes. It is just a matter of time. The significance is whether it takes days, weeks, years or centuries to biodegrade.
A number of factors determine the rate at which this degradation of organic compounds occurs. Important factors include light, water, oxygen and temperature.
The average biodegradation time for plastic bags in a marine environment is 10-20 years. In a terrestrial environment, like a landfill, the time for biodegradation of plastic bags are 500 years or more. So, of course they can write “biodegradable” on a plastic bag, when they do not write the time it takes to biodegrade.
Compared to paper: paper will biodegrade in 5 weeks in a marine environment and in 2-5 months in a terrestrial environment.
If you want to use biodegradable plastic bags, you need to look for the time it takes to biodegrade. It should be written on the package, but it is not. If you do not see the time it takes to biodegrade, you should not buy them.
Compostable plastic bags
Some companies produce compostable plastic bags. But most of these are made of petroleum-based plastic. You get the impression that now you can finally do something good for the environment. But it turns out, you cannot compost these plastic bags in your garden or in your backyard – only in special facilities (how do the green compostable plastic bags get to the facility?)
Compostable here means Commercially Compostable. This means that only a commercial facility can compost those bags. These facilities have a large closed container with a specific balance of temperature, oxygen, and moist in order to compost the plastic bags.
Truly compostable “plastic” bags – bioplastic bags or PLA bags
These are made from renewable resources such as bamboo, sugar cane or corn. And these materials would of course biodegrade naturally or by composting methods.
You must check the company’s website before you buy their bags. A truly compostable plastic bag is not made from fossil fuel plastic, it is made from PLA = Poly Lactic Acid, which can be extracted from corn, bamboo or sugar cane, which are truly renewable resources. The packaging should have “compostable” and “PLA” printed on it.
Plastic bags made from plastic are impossible to recycle.
Biodegradable plastic bags are also made of plastics and since the manufacturing do not write the time it takes to biodegrade on the packing, it is not worth going for these bags. Compostable can be made either from plastic or from renewable sources like corn, sugar cane or bamboo. These are truly compostable and originating from natural and renewable sources.
The 9 planetary boundaries define the health condition of our Planet Earth. CO2 with Global Warming and Climate Change (GWCC) is only 1 of 9 Planetary Boundaries. CO2 in the atmosphere from burning fossil fuel (oil, diesel, petrol, coal and more) is creating a greenhouse effect resulting in the temperature raising. The way to measure CO2 in the atmosphere is parts per million- ppm. CO2 in the atmosphere was 280ppm before the industrial revolution. The maximum healthy value for CO2 is 350 (some scientists calls it “tipping point”). CO2 is now (in 2018) 400 ppm. Having crossed the maximum healthy point, we start feeling the warming of the earth. The hottest temperature ever measured was in 2018. Global Warming and Climate Change has started and is here now. Most people know about CO2 and GWCC. Fewer people know about all the 9 boundaries. The nine planetary boundaries give a more precise picture of how our Planet is doing and the stress human activities are causing. The planet is like a living organism. It can regulate and repair itself, but there are limits, and those can be exceeded and lead to big catastrophes or death and extinction. That is why scientists have started to define the 9 most critical limits or boundaries, which should not be exceeded. Why? The current worldwide economic system is allowing industrial companies to grab the planets resources for free and on the way pollute the soil, air and water, then make people consume as much as possible and create a lot of waste. The industrial companies and corporations are very seldom bothered by or held responsible for the mess and the waste following their activities. Governments, non-profit organizations, community groups and activists are those to eventually discover the mess and do something about it.
Here are some details about the 9 planetary boundaries: Scientists around the world agree on these 9 main Planetary Boundaries for our Planet Earth:
CO2 in the atmosphere with Global Warming and Climate Change (GWCC)
Nitrogen cycle disturbance, Phosphorus
Fresh water resources
These 9 Boundaries were proposed to the scientific world by Swedish scientists in 2009, and not all of them are clearly defined yet.
The scientists work with 3 values for each boundary:
a value from before industrialization began (1945),
a tipping point, which they estimate cannot be exceeded without significant changes on earth, and
the present state for nine Earth systems:
Climate Change - CO2 concentration in the atmosphere is what most people are focusing on when describing the danger for our planet for not being able to reverse the consequences of the greenhouse effect and global warming. As mentioned before, the boundary has already been crossed and has reach 400 ppm. Biodiversity loss - loss of species and family of species has already crossed the boundary. It is measured in extinction rate of species - number of species per million per year. The boundary is 10 and the current value is more than 100. If it continues with current speed 1/3 of all species will Nitrogen cycle disturbance and Phosphorus - Nitrogen has a cycle where nitrogen from the atmosphere is converted into a new inactive form in the soil and it is polluting waterways and coastal areas. Only a small part of the fertilizer in agriculture is used by plants. Most nitrogen and phosphorus end up in rivers. This form of phosphorus cannot be reuse and the reserves are running out in the next 50-100 years. The boundary for nitrogen in the atmosphere has already been crossed. Phosphorus is measured by millions of tons going into the ocean. Pre-industrial there was nothing. The tipping point is 11 and it is now 9. Ocean acidification- meaning the surface acidity of the ocean. It has increased 30 % since the industrial revolution. This boundary is totally connected to climate change and CO2 generated by use of fossil fuel. Excess CO2 is dissolved in the ocean. Pre industrial value is 3.44 and it is currently 2.90 Land use is the surface of land used for agriculture in percent. The measure for pre industrial time was just low. The tipping point is 15% and it is now 11.7% Fresh water resources. Chemicals and pollution are having a dramatic effect on fresh water systems. It is measured in human consumption. Pre industrial value was 415 km2/year and it is now 2600 km2/year. Ozone depletion - The ozone layer is a part of the Earth’s stratosphere. It absorbs ultraviolet radiation from the sun. In 1970ties scientist discovered holes in the ozone layers near the poles but also at times in other areas of the planet. The cause was use of certain gasses used in spray bottles and refrigerators. Many countries banned these gasses in 1989, because holes in the ozone layer is a big problem for humans. It causes skin cancer, cataracts, genetic and immune system damage. The ozone layer started to recover in 2000 (after laws (from 1989) banning the use of CFC (freon) in the production of fridges and in freon sprays) and is improving little by little. This is an example of how it helps the planet and humans to ban a dangerous substance. It is measured as the concentration in the stratosphere. Pre-industrial value was 290. Current value is 283. Atmospheric aerosols – These are particles in the atmosphere. There natural aerosols like monsoons and volcanos, but with all the industrial production has followed a lot more particles in the air from fossil fuel and many chemicals. This goes up in the atmosphere. It can have the same effect as CO2 - preventing the heat from the sun to reflect back and in this way contribute to a warmer planet. The values for this have not yet been identified Chemical pollution – land, water and air are already dangerously polluted. The scientists are still working to evaluate many of the values. Land is polluted by waste from the landfills, water is polluted by hundreds of thousands of chemicals and fertilizers from factories and agriculture plus single-use-plastic being dumped in the ocean every minute. Air is polluted by incineration of waste and by burning of fossil fuels. Many of the chemicals in all types of pollution are very dangerous to animal and human health. In addition, there is noise and light pollution also contributing to serious health problems.
WHAT WE HAVE is a world, where materials production and the corporate world can produce for their profit only and without caring for the waste they create and the damage it makes on animals, nature and people. It is largely accepted or tolerated, that they can do whatever they want until the government, some non-governmental groups or community organizations demand that they follow some minimal laws and regulations and even clean up after them.
WHAT WE WANT is a world, where materials production is always for the good and wellbeing of all people, animals and the planet.
Plastic a Serious Health Threat to People and Planet Plastic is produced from oil. Crude oil (fossil fuel) is extracted from the depth of the earth, brought to refineries and separated into many different liquids of which the most well-known are petrol and diesel. Some of the products from refineries are treated with a bunch of toxic chemicals through different processes and thereby industries create longer chains, which are both very durable and flexible. Plastic is synthetic and thereby not biodegradable like other natural substances. To know more about the manufacturing of plastic from oil see video below:
When plastic ends up as trash in nature, it can stay there for thousands of years while leaking toxic chemicals into our soil and water. It can break into smaller pieces and do deadly damage to birds and fish, who mistakenly eat them. By now 2019, 90% of all birds on our planet have some plastic pieces in their stomachs.
For more about plastics in the ocean and in birds see video below:
The first piece of plastic was made in 1850 by a scientist who made experiments with rubber.
Nobody found any use of the plastic substance until 1925. From 1950 plastic was manufactured from oil and it became a big hit in many sectors: bottles, packaging, wraps, shopping bags, clothes, furniture, cars, phones, computers, laptops and more. Just a few facts:
Every piece of plastic that was ever produced (and not recycled) still exist today.
A small plastic cup can last 80 years.
Plastic buried under soil will last thousands of years.
Americans use and trash 4 million plastic bottles every hour.
USA recycles only 8% of all plastic
Plastic water bottles make up the largest part of plastic waste
BPA is toxic to humans and animals, but it is widely used to make plastics bottles and food trays (and more) durable.
BPA is a hormone disruptor and it can also change our DNA. Thus, it can lead to diabetes, cancer, obesity, depression and much more. Here is how BPA can enter your body: (Citation from Huffington Post) 1. Leaching from plastic containers like plastic bottles, cans lined with a plastic film containing BPA, food in plastic containers designed to be microwaved or boiled, Styrofoam trays on which meat sits absorb the styrene, food heated in styrene or hot food served in styrene. We know that heat, acidity of the food or drink, and how long the food or drink is stored in the plastic all increase leaching.
Do not buy water in plastic bottles. Use own stainless-steel flask.
Use glass cups.
Use own coffee flask. Do not drink coffee from Styrofoam.
Do not eat with plastic utensils.
Do not buy or limit foods in plastic.
Bring own shopping bags, do not use plastic bags
2. Cooking with plastic such as plastic cooking tools, Teflon coated pots and pans and “microwavable plastics.”
3. Chemicals like BPA have become so prevalent in our consumer products that we consume them from our hands when we eat - BPA is in- everything from cash register receipts to paper products.
4. Plastic pollution has entered our food chain because our waste is accumulating in the ocean where it is eaten by sea creatures that we eat. Every day, disposable plastics (bottles, bags, packaging, utensils, etc.) are thrown away in huge quantities after one use, but they will last virtually forever. Globally we make 300 million tons of plastic waste each year. Disposable plastics are the largest component of ocean trash. According to leading expert Charles Moore, founder of Algalita Marine Research Foundation, while by EPA’s latest report, 8.2 percent of plastics get recycled in America, and about 40 percent go to landfill, around 50 percent go unaccounted for when they become waste and much of that waste ends up in our oceans. In America alone, that’s 25 billion pounds of plastic that most likely ends up in our oceans according to Anthony Andrady, a leading scientific expert in plastics. Apart from the chemicals such as BPA and Phthalates that are additives to the petroleum base of plastic, plastics are oliophillic (attract oil), absorbing oily toxins from the surrounding water (such as PCBs, partially burned hydrocarbons, like oil drops from cars, and pesticides, like DDT) and accumulating the toxins in concentrations up to one million times greater than those in the surrounding seawater. Algalita MRF has documented that our plastic waste, and presumably the toxins it concentrates, have entered our food chain. This means we are poisoning fish, an important source of protein, with our toxic waste.
WHAT WE HAVE is a world, where materials production and the corporate world can produce for their profit only and without caring for the waste they create and the damage it makes on animals, nature and people. It is largely accepted or tolerated, that they can do whatever they want until the government, some non-governmental groups or community organizations demand that they follow some minimal laws and regulations and even clean up after them. WHAT WE WANT is a world, where materials production is always for the good and wellbeing of all people, animals and the planet.
HOST COUNTRY, POLAND, A MARCHING CELEBRATION TO BURNING FOSSIL FUELS DURING UNITED NATION’S ANNUAL CLIMATE CHANGE CONFERENCE IN DECEMBER 2018.
The United Nations Climate Change Conferences are yearly conferences held in the framework of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). They serve as the formal meeting of the UNFCCC Parties to assess progress in dealing with climate change, and beginning in 1995, to negotiate the Kyoto Protocol to establish legally binding obligations for developed countries to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.
Poland is hosting the United Nation’s 2018 Annual Climate Conference in the beginning of December this year. During his welcome speech president Duda of Poland said that during his term as leader of Poland there would be no scaling down burning coal in Poland, as coal is providing 80% of the country’s energy. On the contrary Poland has plans to start new coal mines soon. As a welcome to the attendees of the climate change conference, he had arranged for the polish coal miner’s band to march and play, and in the conference facilities there were exhibitions of coal in many different forms. Coal was proudly displayed in cases around the convention pavilions. Coal, fashioned into jewelry, was for sale. A coal-based cosmetic company even touted products that it claimed would treat both “body and soul.”
Burning coal is a part of daily life in Poland. As a result, the country has some of the most polluted air in the European Union, and 33 of its 50 dirtiest cities.
Read about how coal was promoted in the full article from New York Times here:
With an attitude like the one of the President of Poland, which also is found in USA by Donald Trump, it is clear, that progressive people and countries of the world have a lot of work to do teaching and convincing the climate deniers.
There is a need for a change in mindset and a change in seeking short term economic solutions locally for individual nations. Follow the results of this conference.