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Re: [GreenYes] recycling plastic number 5's and 6's. -Why makeit at all?
For all of us 'boomers' who recall the days when there was no such thing as plastic packaging for sodas and other beverages, this problem didn't exist.  That's because the glass bottles that contained sodas had an intrinsic value on them that was determined by the marketplace.  It was actually less expensive for the bottlers and much more sustainable to pay a small fee, typically 2 cents in my time, to get the bottles back and reuse them.  I personally recall summers when I collected bottles and redeemed them for some spending money.  Place an intrinsic value on anything, even waste, and you'll be amazed at how creatively people will recover it to extract the value.

The advent of plastic bottles, with their low or negligible intrinsic value obviated this system for the bottlers.  It became cheaper and more profitable to simply use 'one way' packaging, thus placing the burden of disposal on the consumer (i.e. the taxpayers).  I certainly don't recall a hue and cry from the public demanding plastic packaging (bottles).  What this created was a huge subsidy for the bottlers in that taxpayers shouldered the burden of the end-of-life for the plastic bottles.  Now, as taxpayers, we're expected to continue to shoulder that burden by putting in place recycling programs that cost taxpayers more than it cost the bottlers to reuse their glass bottles.  The plastics industry (i.e. the petroleum industry, i.e. the oil industry) is not going to place an intrinsic value on the plastic bottles based on market price because it's cheaper to produce from virgin materials than post consumer recyclables.  It's much more profitable to extract and produce than take-back and produce.

Instead of adding layer upon layer of new policies and subsidies, I'd prefer to see us take an approach that peels back some of the layers to times when systems were simpler, more sustainable and the costs associated with producing the products and packages rested solely with the producers themselves.  Then, we as consumers, can make a choice to purchase based on the cost and performance of the product without having to concern ourselves with the end-of-life issue.




B. Wayne Turner
City of Winston-Salem
Utilities Division
phone: (336) 747 8418
email: waynet@cityofws.org

>>> "Paul Goettlich" <gottlich@infi.net> 12/12/01 01:37PM >>>
For real solutions to the problem of plastics recycling, the appropriate
question(s) must be asked. In this case, a more appropriate question would
be "Should plastic be made in the first place?"

As a complete and final solution I like the first "R" best-- to reduce,
accomplished on an easy-to-follow national reduction plan, the goal being
complete elimination of plastic.

It's an ambitious goal, however, the first part of the plan is to reduce the
amount of plastic one buys by substituting nonplastic products wherever
possible. Don't purchase those items that are made of plastic or wrapped in
plastic. This is not easy for consumers who were born after the advent of
plastic, and find it indispensable--actually addicted to it. We lived quite
well before plastic, and we can do so after plastic has been eliminated.

We must omit one plastic product from our households on a regular schedule,
until all are banished. For a start, store all food in glass or ceramic, not
plastic containers or wrap. Ask your supermarket to stop wrapping foods,
especially fatty foods like meats and cheeses, in PVC. Demand that
corporations such as Coke and Pepsi actually reuse their plastic containers.
There are so many ways to accomplish this reduction plan.

Educate people to the fact that there is no recycling of plastic. A more
appropriate definition of what is being done with discarded plastic is
"extremely limited reuse" before it finds its way to the landfill,
incinerator, or less developed nations such as India where the same thing
happens with it. If consumers were made aware of this fact, they would see
that plastic is an environmentally unsustainable material and not a wise
selection. A good way to begin this education is to let them know that NOT
ONE of the thousands of plastic milk jugs they dutifully place in the
"recycling" bin each week is made into a new plastic milk jug.

To approach the problem of plastic recycling from the other end--the
cause--have Industry assume its fair share of product responsibility by
legislating the elimination of all externalized production costs. This must
include the full environmental damage caused by its production, use, and
disposal. And I mean ALL externalized damage associated with it, including
the cancers, birth defects, mental disabilities, sexual abnormalities, crime
caused by violence, road rage.... and so on. If all the damage associated
with plastics were included, and made part of the manufacturers
responsibility, it not would be produced, thus ending the world's plastic
recycling dilemma in very short time.

I'd like to assemble a list of other ways to reduce the use and production
of plastic if people would send their ideas in.

Paul

Paul Goettlich
PO Box 517
Berkeley  CA   94701
www.mindfully.org 
gottlich@infi.net 
----- Original Message -----
From: "Sarah I. Wolpow" <swolpow@abacus.bates.edu>
To: "Stephan Pollard" <sp@cast.uark.edu>
Cc: "The Eden Sterling Company" <info@edensterling.com>; <greenyes@grrn.org>
Sent: Wednesday, December 12, 2001 9:30 AM
Subject: Re: [GreenYes] recycling plastic number 5's and 6's.


> I sometimes wonder about the cost/benefit of mailing things out to get
them
> recycled. Trucking is such a huge source of pollution, it may be better
> environmentally to simply landfill the plastic rather than burn fuel to
get it to
> a recycling plant... Any thoughts?
>
> Stephan Pollard wrote:
> > Same goes for us folks in Fayetteville, Arkansas.  We'd be appreciative
if
> > responses to Ben's email could be shared with the group.
> > Also, is there anything we can do with 4's?
> > Stephan
> > The Eden Sterling Company wrote:
> > > Hello. My name is Ben Randolph. I am new to this list. We strive in
our
> > > household to recycle as much as possible. Here in Cincinnati, Ohio we
can
> > > find no place that takes plastics marked with a 5 or 6. We want to
know if
> > > there is someplace we could mail these plastics to that would recycle
them.
> > > We don't have that many, but over 3-4 months they would add up to be
quite a
> > > lot. Or if someone knows of a place in Cincinnati that we might have
> > > overlooked.
> > > Peace,
> > > Ben Randolph
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