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The problem with plastic

Discussion in 'The Coffee Shop' started by amusicsite, 26 Oct 2018.

  1. amusicsite

    amusicsite dn ʎɐʍ sᴉɥ┴ Staff Member

    Location:
    UK
    Seems the world has run out of space for plastic.

    https://www.bloomberg.com/news/arti...ded-the-world-a-111-million-ton-trash-problem

    Seems like all them places we used to dump our 'recycling' has more than enough now, thank you very much. The oceans are cluttered with it, it's propagating throughout the food chain and we are still getting better at churning out more and more or the stuff.

    https://phys.org/news/2018-10-material-plastic-energy-efficient.html

    We are researching how to more efficiently churn out more of this stuff. There are thousands of different types and it's vastly over used.

    There are a number of problems that need a number of solutions.

    Firstly there seems to be far to much complexity to working out what type of plastic you have and what you should do with it. The simple solution to this is introduce laws that say all plastics used in consumer goods must be from a very small group of approved plastic types. Must be clearly labelled with their standard approved type (eg PT1, PT2, PT3). Also you can only ship or sell your product in areas that can recycle them. Something like this to get the industry organised and soak up some of the after sales costs. If a plastic manufacturer wants access to your market they have to develop a solution which can be recycled and possibly pay for a recycling center to open the market up.

    This would also incentivize companies to move to a recycling business model rather than a raw material to product model. We could safely keep plastic if we get better at removing it from the environment, recycle it and make that an efficient process using the safest plastic.

    It's also a legacy of the oil industry. You can basically look at plastic as a waste product from all that petrol we are burning. If we were not turning it into plastic then we would probably have a big lakes of toxic waste everywhere. We desperately need to reduce the amount of that black stuff from under the surface we pump out each year.

    Hopefully the move to renewable energy and electrification of transportation will kick in soon. There are some good signs on this front at the moment. I heard recently that for a few years now most big ships are run off electric motors which are powered by diesel motors. Apparently it's more efficient than a drive shaft. So it's quit easy to switch these over to batteries or hydrogen sometime. Shipping goods all over the world uses lots of oil at the moment. Which creates lots of cheap plastic byproducts.

    Tesla's big plan of kicking the car companies ass' seems to be working. They are nicely ramping up the number they can make and have even just announced a slightly cheaper version of their popular new car. In parts of America, where most units have shipped, it's starting to own the market sector it's in. Most people with the money to afford a car that expensive are now thought to be considering an electric car. There has been a noticeable drop in demand as people put off purchasing a new car until there is the right electric car for them. I think this effect will start to move down the economic ladder too.

    Soon so many people will be walking into car showrooms asking about electric cars they can't ignore them. If they do, then the new movers like Tesla will take over the market. Already by the time the competition is rolling their first electric cars off the production lines, Tesla will be producing thousands a week. I believe they are approaching 7k a week and have an Elon target of 10k a week for next year. That's the economy of scale that will turn them a nice profit. The car industry may have to move fast, just like when the iphone made old phones look old. The same is going to happen in the car industry. How many years was it between no smart phones and only smart phones? The move to electric cars is looking very similar. Going from laughing at what it can't do (copy and paste on the iphone, range in cars), to those problems being fixed and moving onto the "I quite fancy one of them". Before you know it there everywhere.

    There are battery powered car ferries, hydrogen powered trains and all sorts of things coming onto the market to reduce our demand of the black stuff. I'm sort of expecting the plastic crisis to be a blip. As we reduce the amount of petrol/diesel we burn, we reduce the amount of plastic we use.

    Another benefit of the move to electric transportation is it can vastly reduce the cost. Part of the reasons we love plastic packaging is that it's light and strong. This means you burn less fuel moving it around. With electric delivery trucks there is the potential to return to glass bottles, clay pots and heavier organic packaging without increasing costs much.

    First job really seems to be clean up the shoot we have created so far and stop it getting into the environment. The oil companies should pay for this and basically means better water treatment plants and keeping rivers clean the world over, which in it's self would improve the lives of a few billion people.