Over the past few months, we have heard a lot about bans on single use plastic and foam items; things like plastic bags, drinking straws, and take out containers. We have spent some time looking into these bans and whether or not they will actually make an impact on plastic waste. As of right now, only about 9% of all plastic that has ever been produced has been recycled.
Five years ago Sonoma County instituted a ban on single-use plastic bags for supermarkets and stores. Two years ago, retailers started using a new type of plastic bag that is supposed to be multi-use, thicker and sturdier, which could be recycled. The problem is that the main hauler in Sonoma County won’t accept the bags for recycling because they jam up the sorting machines at the transfer stations. As a result, in some municipalities the issue with bags has not been fixed, and the bags are not sorted and will just wind up in the landfills. In other locations, like Palm Beach County, Florida plastics can be sorted at the County Resource Recycling Center. With sophisticated equipment they actually place bags into bales of #2-7 plastics and resell to users of the plastics. In recycling, where there is a will there is a way.
Advocates are saying that they have seen a decrease in the amount of plastic bags littering waterways and beaches, they feel, due to the state instituting a bag ban in 2016. They are also concerned that the small headway they have gained will once again start losing ground due to all the loopholes added to the ban wording to pacify the plastics industry. Experts are stating that until we wean ourselves from our plastics dependency, the actual issues created won’t be solved.
The larger portion of plastic trash can be attributed to plastic bags, ghost nets (nets that were lost or abandoned by fishermen), and water bottles. We have to address the increasing number of state and cities that are banning polystyrene and expanded polystyrene foam containers. Things like the foam cups and clam shell containers that many fast food and to-go restaurants use, as well as many packing materials. It is non-biodegradable, it is made with fossil fuels, can’t be recycled, and marine animals mistake it as food. There are biodegradable and sustainable options for such containers, but when we priced them and talked to restaurant owners and managers, they all said that the environmentally friendly containers were a cost issue.
A study done in 2008 showed that after a ban on single-use food-service containers, non-foam litter jumped. So instead of it reducing the little as desired, it just created a new stream of litter. Many other reports say the same thing. In essence, it’s not about banning particular objects, it’s about finding alternative and cost-effective solutions to our plastic waste issues. The options are appearing already; bamboo coffee stirrers, plant based “plastics”, paper for straws, etc. Until the public is fully educated and demands recycling and the government mandates recycling and forces packagers to be responsible and forces greater recycling requirements, we will continue to see plastic in our waterways and cluttering the landscape.
Keep in mind that there is a company, as well as many new products to clean the ocean. https://4ocean.com/pages/ocean-plastic-recovery
Please check out the links, take a look at some who try to help.
Please demand recycling of ALL plastics from 1 – 7.
Mandate the Recycling of Plastics!
The Team at Waste Cost Solutions, Inc.