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Plastics and Recycling Considered

Should we really ban plastic bags? There is a big push against plastic bags right now – in California, New York, and Chicago just announced a ban on plastic bags also. Oh you didn’t hear about that? Well, let’s talk about all this because we need to discuss recycling and other issues of concern, biodegradable forms of plastic, our environment and our economy too – it is all related and it all matters. Okay, let me start with this discussion if I might.

You see, there was an interesting article in Plastics News titled; “Chicago approves plastic bag ban,” by Gayle S. Putrich which stated;

“Paper or plastic? Will no longer be a choice in Chicago, starting next year. Chicago on April 30 voted 36-10 to ban plastic bags at chain and franchise stores there. The ban goes into effect for large retailers in August 2015 and one year later for shops smaller than 10,000 square feet. Family-owned stores and restaurants will not be affected. All major stores will have to provide or sell reusable bags, recyclable paper bags or compostable plastic bags and have the option of charging for the disposable bags.”

The other day I was talking with an accomplished acquaintance online who noted that her father was an expert in engineering and designs, and created his own molds, in fact, she’d worked with him and explained how much waste is thrown away. Yes, true enough, no one can deny that right? Everyone in the industry knows, that’s the reality, and she also noted that none of that waste is reused or made into anything else. Why you ask?

Seriously, good question because plastics, much of it can be broken down and made into something else, of course we keep making more, polymer chains are a bonus for the petroleum industry. Saudi Arabia is really getting into the plastics industry now. And, we ought to be wise enough to recycle in the molding and prototyping phase, if nothing else but to help recycle future at home use with regards to 3-D printing where all that plastic will merely be thrown out in the local trash can, see that point?

Distributive manufacturing or consumer on-demand making of products is a wondrous concept indeed, still think about all that future waste? Ouch. My acquaintance noted that “Much of what we think is being recycled is really going into landfill.” Yes, she is right, and that is totally true. If you are a regular reader of my online recycling articles you know that to be the case already. Recycling unfortunately isn’t always as efficient as people think compared to making from scratch.

Eventually there will be robotic separators to help with that, one of the major challenges now. Mostly, as you know it makes people feel good about themselves. Starbucks noted that all their recycling bins at all their stores only collect enough for 1-week of production of new paper or plastic cups.

Also consider this comment from my acquaintance; “Some can actually be recycled but most plastics have different purposes and have a much different chemical composition.” This is also true, each type of plastic has a slightly different polymer chain, and bio-plastics, made from corn for instance don’t mix with non-organic chemistry types of polymers. Yes, there is a lot more to this story, I hope you as a concerned citizen or problem solver for the future will do your own research and look into all this, become informed. Thanks.

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