Plastic.  A victim of its own sucess?

Plastic was first made in the 19th Century but only became widely commercially available during World War II.  The plastics we know of today are completely synthetic meaning that they are not found naturally.  

The plastics we use each day are all slightly different but are essentially long chains of hydrogen and carbon bonds with can have other elements like nitrogen, sulphur and phosphorus added to them.

Plastic drinking bottles are made of PET (polyethylene terephthalate) which is very similar to polyester. PET bottles were invented by Nathaniel Wyeth in 1969.  Previously all carbonated drinks had to be bottled in glass because of the strength required from the glass to keep its shape.

PET bottles revolutionised the carbonated drinks industry.

Plastic bottles are cheap to make, the PET is recyclable and weighs less than glass so transportation costs are lower.

An esitimated 50 billion PET bottles are made annually and they can safely carry 50 times their weight of water.  There is an arguement that they also save  crude oil because of their recyclability and reduction in transport costs. 

Plastic has become 'the' current biggest environmental dissater the globe is currently facing.  Two years ago few people even thought about what happened to the straw they were using to drink a milkshake.  Now (with the exception of the largest fast food chains), there are signs in supermarkets, and resturants saying that they will only give you a straw if you ask.  AWESOME. Instagram is full of memes saying "straws suck".  

Shouldn't we ban all plastic.  Irrespective of what it is being used for?

Plastic bottles whether they are filled with a fizzy drink or water and take away coffee cups are also a huge problem.  And lets not for get about plastic carrier bags.

Most countries in the world are now charging a fee for single use bag to take your shopping home.  Excellent.  But what happens to the plastic when you get home?

Jamaica has gone a step further and is banning all single use plastic.  Why more countries are not doing this I do not know.

I was in my local supermarket the other day and got very excited to see paper bags being offered as an alternative to a plastic one.  Why is this not happening in all stores. 

I got very excited when I was buying avocadoes because the store now sells it in a compostable tray but it is all still wrapped in cling film - not recyclable. 

There is a link below to an article written and published by The

Everything you've been told about plastic is wrong – the answer isn't recycling. 

Recycling is an easy cop-out for governments and large corporations, but the truth is that we have to take very different action if we want to stop irreversibly poisoning the planet. 

Sirena Bergman @SirenaBergman

 The best bit of the article for me is:

"It’s fine though, right? Because you recycle. Or so goes the story we’ve all been brainwashed into accepting: that if we all just get a few containers and separate out our waste, it will be taken by some nice people who will magically make it go away without any negative consequences. Recycling is the grown-up version of squeezing our eyes shut, sticking our fingers in our ears and shouting “lalalalalala!”. Meanwhile our marine life is fast becoming extinct, our air is so polluted that limits and benchmarks are becoming laughable, natural disasters are more devastating than ever and, of course, the planet is hurtling ever closer to “disastrous” levels of global warming."

There is news everyday about the EU or Tesco's or Mcdonalds changing their packaging to recyclable plastics, then there is the news that recycling plants are leaking plastics into waterways, and China not prepared to import the world's rubbish anymore.  There are more and more products being made of plastic everyday.  the plastic which was used to make stuff in the 1940's is still here.

Thats the biggest problem with plastic.  It doesn't go away.

Recycling plastic takes money and uses energy - energy thats generated. 

Personally I am only a fan of plastic recycling if it is used to make long-use items - like park benches or fencing posts or decking.  

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All images sourced from unless otherwise stated