Friday, September 21, 2007

Plastic Waste.

Just to put in a counterpoint to my recent rants, I thought I’d point out that though I disagree with the AGW religion, I am in agreement with much else the ‘green’ movement highlights. So, keeping it specific, I though I’d talk about plastics which, in my opinion are worse than AGW, even if it were true.

Plastics are damned useful. They can be formed into just about any shape we might want, they can be impermeable to water, they decay very slowly, they can be as strong as steel and as soft as cotton, excellent insulators, any colour under the sun and even no colour at all. We can make just about anything out of them, and frequently do … but why am I telling you this? If you don’t already know it already, then just walk around your home and you’ll see.

The problem with plastics is that they are damned useful, get used, and decay very slowly. A further problem is the throw-away society in which they are being used. And these facts combined are causing some major fuck-ups. We really should stop using the damned substance unless it is really needed, yet time and time again this oil-based limited resource is used once and discarded. Here’s a few facts grabbed at random off the Internet:
  • A plastic milk jug takes 1 million years to decompose.
  • A plastic cup can take 50 - 80 years to decompose.
  • Americans use 2.5 million plastic bottles every HOUR.
  • Plastic bags and other plastic garbage thrown into the ocean kill as many as 1 million sea creatures every year.
  • An estimated 14 billion pounds of trash, much of it plastic is dumped in the world's oceans every year.
  • There are 13,000 pieces of plastic litter per square kilometre of the world's oceans.
  • The worldwide fishing industry dumps an estimated 150,000 tons of plastic into the ocean each year, including packaging, plastic nets, lines, and buoys.
  • Every year we make enough plastic film to shrink-wrap the state of Texas.
  • Plastic production uses 8% of the world's oil production.
  • Nearly every piece of plastic EVER made still exists today.
I mean, why is it necessary to wrap fruit, which already has a skin, in a layer of plastic, in a plastic tray, and then lug it out of the supermarket in a plastic carrier bag? Hell, just buy your apples or pears and take them home in a re-useable bag, then put them in your fruit bowl. The only difference here would be less plastic crud in your bin ready to go out to the dustmen and end up in the remit of the recycling police.

Another one is cotton buds with plastic sticks: one delve in the earhole then down the toilet and flushed away, then off to fuck up marine life. Plastic carrier bags, give me strength … WHY? Well, because people are accustomed to being supplied with them. Cut the supply and people will soon get used to taking along their own bags, then perhaps we’ll see a few less trees decorated with a foliage of the damned things aruond supermarkets. Plastic bags generally are overused, and found jamming up the guts of numerous sea creatures, along with numerous other throw-away plastic items.
Another great way to cut down on landfill would be if printer companies weren’t so fucking greedy – be nice if just one of them made a printer with refillable reserviors and a life-span above about two years. The same applies to a lot of other electrical stuff.

Then there’s a particular bugbear of mine, and this is directed at you, yes you, the one who buys Volvic, or Evian or any other of those bottled waters. That stuff is no better than tap water, in fact, it is very often much worse and, after you’ve drunk it, one more fucking plastic bottle goes in the bin. Please, Mr or Mrs I-think-I’m-cool-with-my-bottled-water, go find the Penn and Teller video clip on You Tube about bottled water, and learn just how much of a complete prat you are.


Ross C said...


25 pence a bag at the supermarket and make the supermarket thieves justify every item of wrapping they use, never forget they never do anything unless there is profit for them, for sure wrapping fruit is for their benefit not ours, also stage your own protest at your local quicki mart and remove all the wrapping that is,in your opinion , excessive, and drop it in the managers office,
small protests can make a difference.

Ross MTL

Anonymous said...

Hi Neal, a lot of "Spring Water" plastic bottling companies are using hybrid biodegradible bottles made of corn starch. Given the right composting conditions of course these new bio bottles break down in about 4 weeks.

The tech is getting better even if it's just another marketing ploy to make you feel good about buying tap water. I boil tap water anyway and only have it in my instant coffee ;-)

Kirby Uber said...

oh my... bottled water is one of my hugest bitches.

Anonymous said...

Kirby, that and used condoms. In some parts of my city you don't have to look far to stumble upon used condoms and needles.

About plastics though, a few years ago my neigbors 5 year old boy one day came home with those plastic ring holders that hold beer cans. His mother asked him why he was cutting them apart with sizzors. He said because birds get can get caught in them. Pretty bright for a 5 year old.

Also plastic disposible bags bring heat to my face. I hate these things with a passion. They litter in trees where birds live. Plastic bags and used condoms, sigh.

Guthrum said...

Re Libertarian Party

Can you contact us on

Bob Lock said...

I remember reading a book about a plastic eating bug this scientist invents, however, things spiral out of control when he drops a phial of it into his sink whilst having a heart-attack. The stuff gets out from his controlled environment and creates havoc, eating through every kind of plastic available. Not nice when you're at 30,000 feet and you drag some into the plane on your shoe...
I think it was called Mutany 59 - The Plastic Eater by Davis and Pedler, however, if something similar could be found (but controllable) it might be one way of alleviating the ever increasing fallout from plastic products that will probably be still covering the Earth long after Man has died out.
Regarding bottled water, I have to come clean here and admit I drink Aqua-Pura which comes from the Eden Valley spring near Penrith and is a natural mineral water bottled directly from the source and with just a light filtering. It's low in sodium and calcium and just tastes a hell of a lot better than the brown tap water I get here in Swansea. I first started drinking bottled water when living in Italy and if you've ever drank Italian tap water you'd know why, add to that the fact I was friends with an Italian chemist who worked in a water filtration plant and was told some hair-raising stories (yes, I had hair then) about what goes on. And don't think that it's just Italy:

And what about 1998 when all those people were poisoned by aluminium sulphate after 20 tonnes of it were dumped into the wrong tank at the treatment works in Camelford Cornwall. It turned people's hair green,caused memory loss, joint problems, allergies. The water authority was slapped on the wrist with a £10,000 pound fine and paid costs of £25,000 for 'polluting public drinking water' People down there are still suffering from the effects of the toxins they drank. Ok, I'm perhaps contributing to the plastic mountain by causing a demand for this product, but to offset my own family's plastic debt I put all plastic products in a seperate green bag and take it to a recycle centre which if everyone did then perhaps less 'fresh' plastic would have to be made? I don't know but it seems like a good idea. And if the water was supplied in glass bottles perhaps with a refundable deposit on them then I'd not moan about that, it's only what we used to have back in my childhood days, I made a lucrative little pocket-money business taking discarded lemonade bottles back to the shop!

Anonymous said...

The sea is filled now with plastic particulates. Almost everything that lives in or near the sea now contains plastic within itself.

At the same time most rational people are getting pissed off with excess packaging. Our Council has changed to fortnightly collections so the amount of rubbish we produce is an issue. Meanwhile ,like Neal said, Tesco produces biscuits that are individually wrapped, placed in a plastic tray, wrapped in plastic and carried out in a plastic bag.

Ireland placed a minimal bag tax of €0.15 per bag and that reduced bag use by 90%,,30200-12093273,00.html

Why can't we get paper bags like those used in the US?

The less oil we use for plastics the more we have for lovely petrol.

Neal Asher said...

Tried to reply, Mr Guthrum - email bounced.

Anonymous said...

I was living on Raoul Island (population 13 at that time) for four months one year. Raoul is 1000km away from New Zealand in one direction and 1000km from Tomga in another... it is also well off the main shipping routes, but we still had huge amounts of plastic, plus glass bottles and rubber flip-flops washed up on the beach. Imagine how much is floating out there in the oceans right now.

Max @ENSO said...

We agree plastics are a growing problem...what are we to do with all the plastic? Recyclers will tout the idea of recycling....but sooner or later plastic can't be recycled any more and what what we'll end up with is a hugh pile of carpets or leisure suits. That's why we decided to get involved in the plastic business and we here at ENSO Bottles are involved in the manufacture of biodegradable PET plastic bottle. I'm not talking about bio-plastic but actual plastic bottle like the 150 billion that are being produced every year. Check out my blog at
or our web sit at ENSO
We know it isn't the only answer but it is a step in the right direction.

BenjaminFranklin said...

Those wishing to learn more about oxo-biodegradable plastic products should visit our website at . We have posted a huge amount of information about oxo-biodegradable plastics, and supply many oxo-biodegradable plastic disposable products - wholesale only, I'm afraid. We supply garbage bags, t-shirt bags, water bottle preforms, deli containers and lids, produce bags, straws, and cutlery with zip-lock bags on the way. -Tim Dunn