Plastic waste has become a constant, growing problem in the Earth environment. It kills wild creatures, litters beaches, reserves and streets, as a multi-coloured, land, water or air borne eyesore almost everywhere. How do we stop the flood?!
Plastic looks like the biggest single kind of pollutant from humankind’s expansion, because of its wide distribution, physical prominence and lack of a terminal use (accumulation). But more of humanity’s pollution goes unseen.
Plastic is organic carbon and represents mined fossil fuel, that as a principle warms the planet through greenhouse gas releases. We must find a different way of delivering production, to help stabilise the climate, protect ocean life and reduce weather event risks like drought, fire, storm, flood and freezing.
Campaigns to limit or remove plastic ‘single-use’ product have begun in earnest. Multiple uses of plastic products are more the norm, such is its versatility and deep embedding in the modern economy. (‘Futurist’ economy is very different.)
So how should we respond? We can always buy less and find alternative products to those coming plastic-wrapped. But in many ways now, time/choice is limited. Plastic’s role in economies is unique: highly malleable, light and strong material with low immediate cost. The cost accrues long-term and needs full accounting.
When, as a group of mostly Mairehau High School friends, in 1979 we renamed our formative punk band The Plague, as Plastic Impact, we were onto an emerging and serious trend. The question remains, only more urgent today – how to reduce plastic impact upon good planet Earth?*
Graphics source: https://rebellion.earth – #XR
http://www.greenpeace.org.nz : Solarise NZ & make oil history
Slovakian coal protesters face jail –
https://www.greenpeace.org/new-zealand/press-release/update-greenpeace-activists-denied-bail-facing-months-in-jail-awaiting-trial/ – an ‘XR’ action e.g.
https://www.greens.org.nz/trash-into-cash – too little too late?
https://www.greens.org.nz/page/climate-change-policy – ‘contraction and convergence’ etc – formal, mandated tackling (2017-20..?)
Solutions / more info
Energy recovery from pyrolysis of plastic waste: Study on non-recycled plastics (NRP) data as the real measure of plastic waste –
Replacing coal use now, as much as possible using plastic waste as an industrial feed-stock, makes good sense – it recycles the fossil carbon and gives the waste a value that will remove it from waste streams and dumping.
Keep coal in the ground, reduce new oil use to the greatest extent possible (from fractionated plastic etc.). Transition to battery, solar energy and biomass renewable fuels, for indispensable motor transport.
We must have new industry along these lines, as well as completed use of all plastic. Inert, it is sequestered carbon though far too often abandoned junk.
We are surrounded by green leaves, wood, and now plastic – fragmenting down to micro particles everywhere – the Anthropocene habitat of carbon artefacts? …
Park it safely or get rid of it properly – with safe technological processing. But either way, replacing plastic manufacture is no less challenging that the climate crisis it relates to.
The idea of stopping plastic production is a very long stretch, given the economic powers holding sway and the constrained budgets and choices of consumers they ‘serve’. We have to think very big on this one. Everyone is involved, so must be.**
Kia ora, kia kaha (be well, be strong)
Article author: natural autonomy N/A
* A musical ‘plastic’ reference from our era, that influenced our choice of band name satirically, was Plastic Bertrand and his 1977-78 hit song.
** NZ’s role in the Malaysian plastics dumping ground RadioNZ 23Sep’18
Disposal of plastic waste needs urgent rethink – report RadioNZ 3Dec’18
Hard truths about recycling – it’s mostly PR Opinion, RadioNZ 4Dec’18
New notes, 261218..
Plastic Fantastic BBC4 UK
UK Plastics Pact “trailblazing, collaborative initiative that will create a circular economy for plastics. It brings together businesses from across the entire plastics value chain with UK governments and NGOs to tackle the scourge of plastic waste.. By 2025, The UK Plastics Pact will transform the UK plastic packaging sector by meeting four world-leading targets” Waste and Resources Action Programme wrap.org.uk
RT7000 Thermal Cracker & Distillation recyclingtechnologies.co.uk
“Globally as little as 5 percent of plastic was ever recycled, meaning recycling would never address the problem.. there is predicted to be a 33 percent increase in fossil fuel based plastic production in the next five years” Stemming plastic production should be focus, says researcher RadioNZ 29Dec’18
Global Olivine “uses sixteen discrete, integrated, sustainable processes to turn your trash into cash for you. Waste is a resource” Warwick Davies et. al. Ackd
6 momentous stunts by environmental movement Extinction Rebellion HITC.com Dec18