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alpendave
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PostTue Mar 31, 2020 6:40 pm 
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Listening to the radio and they advertised a special they are doing (starting tonight, I believe), on recycling. Here is the article: Plastic Wars

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Ski
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PostTue Mar 31, 2020 9:04 pm 
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I believe this should actually be in the Stewardship Forum, and it definitely is a "Lands Stewardship" issue because there is more plastic being hauled out into the woods than ever before. Six years ago, when I hiked up the Sams River on my birthday, I was rather disturbed to find a number of empty one-gallon plastic milk jugs mixed in with the flood debris that had washed downstream during high-water events, forever to remain part of the landscape.

One of my neighbors, Neil, is an Professor of Economics who works primarily as a consultant. We had a lengthy and interesting conversation in my driveway a while back about plastics and recycling, a subject about which he is quite conversant, having worked as a consultant for (among other municipalities) the City of Portland on their recycling program. What he told me wasn't very encouraging:

We were sending a great deal of our recycled plastic to China, where a good portion of it was being processed and made into consumer products. When it no longer became economically viable, China stopped buying our recycled plastic. One reason was because of the people who are too lazy to clean the food waste off plastic items, another is (as mentioned in the article) there are so many different types of plastic that sorting them becomes too labor intensive, even at the rates paid to Chinese laborers.

His summation was that we should continue to run recycling programs in larger municipalities, but that in rural areas the labor and transportation costs outweigh the benefits of recycling, and that in the end it would be better to just send all the material to landfills.

Anyone who has ever walked along Washington coastal beaches knows that plastics never break down and "biodegrade". They are here forever. Over time, they will get torn into tiny pieces, which is why there are virtually no beaches anywhere on the planet that don't contain tiny particles of plastic in the sand. The stuff is here forever.

We are slowly burying the planet with garbage. Most of us don't pay a lot of attention to it because once the cans are picked up at the curb, we never see it again, so we're not thinking about the train car loads of it being shipped down to Waste Management's Columbia Ridge Landfill in the Columbia Gorge. ( GPS coordinates 45.6143127,-120.2275585 )

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I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each."
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alpendave
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PostWed Apr 01, 2020 5:15 am 
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Would be worth investing in finding the ideal plastic that is compostable in any environment.  A few months old: https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20191030-why-biodegradables-wont-solve-the-plastic-crisis

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Like a ray of sunshine in a drought stricken land.

What we do does far more than what we think others ought to do. Inspiration is a far greater power for good than coercion. In your own life, show others the good that you wish to see in the world.
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cdestroyer
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PostWed Apr 01, 2020 6:48 am 
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whilst I lived in portland oregon I worked part time temp labor recycling plastics of all types. they processed them together and put the result thru an extruding device that made 2x4 size parts which were used to make park benches and bus stop benches.
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MtnGoat
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PostWed Apr 01, 2020 8:17 am 
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In the end, there is probably very little recycling which makes environmental sense because the costs, and thus the energy requirements, are higher than that of simply creating more.

All that garbage from all around the world goes into a pretty small area out east of me. There's a lot more room for it. Their taxes pay to maintain my county roads, so that's not so bad.

Landfills occupy such a ridiculously tiny area of land that the concern about too much garbage has always struck me as ludicrous. I don't want it on the side of the road any more than anyone else because ugly and poor practice, but as long as it winds up in the landfill, good enough.

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Cyclopath
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PostWed Apr 01, 2020 10:11 am 
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"Microplastics" are being found everywhere on earth, including in the stomachs of newly discovered species at the bottom of deep ocean trenches.  They're also in our stomaches and who knows where else in our bodies.  That has to be good for us, right?  Like a vitamin?
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MtnGoat
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PostWed Apr 01, 2020 11:47 am 
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May be benign, who knows.

I think addressing the stuff that isnt going into proper landfills makes sense.

Is it better to use more energy to recycle than is saved by recycling? This also applies to urban concentrations because even the non lazy folks washing plastics, are using resources to wash them.

I've always wondered why someone doesn't invent some crazy hot turbo incinerator that plasma-izes everything fed into it, and then you have a fractionating process at the other end with taps pouring forth the constituent elements. It would sure be handy to have to sort nothing and wash nothing. I suspect the same problem emerges...more energy than you save by recycling the material.

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Diplomacy is the art of saying 'Nice doggie' until you can find a rock. - Will Rogers
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Anne Elk
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PostThu Apr 02, 2020 3:42 pm 
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Plastics are a derivative of the petrochemical industry; I've always assumed they kept cooking up other ways to make money off the stuff.  I'm just old enough to remember when there weren't such things as plastic bottles for everything, and Saran Wrap (et al). It was all redeemable glass bottles and waxed paper.  Even deodorant came in glass (remember roll-on deodorant?)  Why couldn't we go back to glass?  Yeah, yeah, I know, heavier transport costs, but you have to trade off somewhere.

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zephyr
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PostThu Apr 02, 2020 5:49 pm 
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Anne Elk wrote:
I'm just old enough to remember when there weren't such things as plastic bottles for everything, and Saran Wrap (et al). It was all redeemable glass bottles and waxed paper.  Even deodorant came in glass (remember roll-on deodorant?)  Why couldn't we go back to glass?

Why not?  Isn't Silicon one of the most abundant minerals on the planet?

Oh, yes.  Just looked it upSilicon is the eighth most common element in the universe by mass, but very rarely occurs as the pure element in the Earth's crust. It is most widely distributed in dusts, sands, planetoids, and planets as various forms of silicon dioxide (silica) or silicates. More than 90% of the Earth's crust is composed of silicate minerals, making silicon the second most abundant element in the Earth's crust (about 28% by mass) after oxygen.

~z
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Randito
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PostThu Apr 02, 2020 7:33 pm 
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MtnGoat wrote:
In the end, there is probably very little recycling which makes environmental sense because the costs, and thus the energy requirements, are higher than that of simply creating more.

All that garbage from all around the world goes into a pretty small area out east of me. There's a lot more room for it. Their taxes pay to maintain my county roads, so that's not so bad.

Landfills occupy such a ridiculously tiny area of land that the concern about too much garbage has always struck me as ludicrous. I don't want it on the side of the road any more than anyone else because ugly and poor practice, but as long as it winds up in the landfill, good enough.

The history of how the USA got it's start in recycling is pretty interesting

https://projects.newsday.com/long-island/long-island-garbage-barge-left-islip-30-years-ago/

Seattle got heavy into recycling after the methane generated by it's Midway landfill in Federal Way was seeping its way under I-5 enough to cause trouble for the folks living there.

The folks living around the Cedar Hills landfill in east King county launched a NIMBY campaign to prevent expansion of that site -- so now Seattle's garbage gets shipped all the way to Boardman Oregon -- the nearest site willing to accept Seattle's garbage.

The big secret the last several years is while garbage and recycling are still collected separately in King County == the market for recyclable materials has imploded and the majority of the recycling is going to the landfill.

Which is probably just as well -- as much of the recyclable materials that were being shipped to the PRC were ultimately being dumped at sea -- much of the material in the "great pacific garbage patch" and the material being found in the stomachs of sea creatures are plastics that were supposed to be recycled.
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cdestroyer
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PostWed May 06, 2020 9:04 am 
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I guess my post above about making something useful out of the plastic fell on deaf ears....if useable construction materials can be made why is there still dumping!!















"The greater our knowledge increases, the greater our ignorance unfolds".....JFK
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MtnGoat
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PostWed May 06, 2020 9:08 am 
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Anne Elk wrote:
Plastics are a derivative of the petrochemical industry; I've always assumed they kept cooking up other ways to make money off the stuff.  I'm just old enough to remember when there weren't such things as plastic bottles for everything, and Saran Wrap (et al). It was all redeemable glass bottles and waxed paper.  Even deodorant came in glass (remember roll-on deodorant?)  Why couldn't we go back to glass?  Yeah, yeah, I know, heavier transport costs, but you have to trade off somewhere.

Anne, I don't understand why figuring out new uses is bad, is that your implication here?

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Ski
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PostWed May 06, 2020 10:13 am 
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cdestroyer wrote:
I guess my post above about making something useful out of the plastic fell on deaf ears....if useable construction materials can be made why is there still dumping!!

I'm assuming you're referring to products like "Trex" decking.
Good question, and my ears are not deaf. I just don't know the answer.
If I had to make a guess, I'd say economics.
As long as we have cheap subsidized Canadian lumber coming in by the container load, the plastic stuff probably won't be competitive. (Just a wild guess.)

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"I shall wear white flannel trousers, and walk upon the beach. 
I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each."
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MtnGoat
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PostWed May 06, 2020 10:22 am 
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Subsidies cause distortions so users are not able to make valid economic decisions based upon their own expertise on their own values.

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Diplomacy is the art of saying 'Nice doggie' until you can find a rock. - Will Rogers
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treeswarper
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PostWed May 06, 2020 10:26 am 
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cdestroyer wrote:
I guess my post above about making something useful out of the plastic fell on deaf ears....if useable construction materials can be made why is there still dumping!!

Because, it has to be economical to do so. 

For instance, where I used to live in Lewis County, they had a pretty good recycling program going on.   The transfer station was located on Hwy 12 where East Countyans would pass on their way to "town".  It had easy access for folks to toss their recyclables into bins. Folks got into it.  For a while the county even made money on recycling, I don't know if it still is.  Lewis County is between Portland and Seattle and is on or near I5 so shipping is pretty easy and in the past has made economical sense. 

Compare that to Okanogan County.  It has a kinda sorta recycling program.  The bins in town are hard to get stuff into.  You must climb up on a step, hang onto a rail, get the small lid up, and stuff things in.  Cardboard is a challenge.  The bins only take glass, newspaper, cardboard and aluminum.  You can drive to the dump and they have easier bins to put stuff into.  I think the Methow has a non-county recycling program.  But, we are kind of at the end of the road so transportation would be spendier than in Lewis County.  It isn't as nice of  a program and I'm not sure if they even take any plastics.  It's much easier just to toss things in the garbage here.  I'm guilty of that.  I don't know if the county here has ever made a profit off the recycling.  Maybe, maybe not, but the location is not near any markets.

Make it easy to recycle, and I'd start doing so again.  Make it pay to recycle and that makes it even more lucrative.

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