PROCESSWEST Magazine Online

Report on the “plastic problem” reveals entirely new problems

Don Horne   


Orb Media examined four aspects of the plastic problem: marine waste, microplastics, chemicals, and recycling – and some of the results revealed we may be creating whole new problems trying to solve current ones.

New Orb Media Inc. reporting and data analysis shows consumers are extremely worried about plastic’s impact on the world – but there remains widespread public confusion regarding responsibilities and options, and the role of governments and industry in reducing plastic pollution.

While people do want to reduce the plastic waste in landfills and in the oceans, the substitutes seem to be generating more pollution that the plastic itself.

Report highlights include:


Plastic Bag Substitutes Generate Greater Carbon Footprint
Compostable plastic bags can’t degrade in landfills or nature and must be separated and heated in an industrial facility. Most bioplastics have the same environmental hazards and a bigger carbon footprint.

Studies show that making and moving glass bottles uses nearly five times more energy.

Paper bag production considered a greener choice by many, produces more air pollution than plastic bag production.

Attitude Impacts Recycling Habits
Recent research shows the mood of a community can affect recycling rates. The average weight of campus recycling was nearly 50 per cent higher after a college basketball victory than after a loss or tie at one U.S. university. On rainy days, the total mass of household recycling collected in one London borough fell by one kilogram for every millimetre of precipitation.

Microplastics Are Everywhere
Less prominent in the plastic narrative are emerging questions over microplastic pollution in food, air, soil, and water, and the safety of chemical additives in plastic food packaging.

Click here to read the full report.


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