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The Pros and Cons of Plastic Use

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Sandra Lawson English 101 Jen Heckler 15March2013 To Use or Not to Use Plastic Grocery Bags an d Plastic Drinking Bottles. Most people if asked would say that they want to do the correct thing when it comes to their plastic waste. Every day the human race throws out millions of pounds of toxic waste in the form of plastic drink bottles and plastic grocery bags, for the most part, we do not do this maliciously; most people just do not know where to dispose of it other than the wastebaskets especially, when not at home.

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As a human race, we need to come up with a solution that will not only encourage the recycling of all plastics but also, reward the people that are willing to look for new ideas and products that will work as well if not better than what we use at this time. We need to wake up and start to get serious about recycling our plastic waste a good place to start is in our homes then get involved with the programs in our Cities and Counties.

We need to mandate recycling All the while looking into producing different types of plastics like Bio Plastics, so that we can eliminate the use of petroleum-based plastics.

All though am aware, of the pollution that using plastics causes I am just as guilty of using plastic water bottles and grocery bags as others. One of the reasons is that it is very convenient to use them. Many of us have plastic bags in our houses tucked in various places all over I know that I do. We need to take the bags we have back to the store or find a way to recycle them. With billions of plastic bags, and bottles used each year, recycling is essential. The plastic bags that people refer to when talking about the environmental problem are the lightweight disposable bags that are given away by supermarkets, markets, and shops.

These are the Lightweight plastic bags, that have been designed for a single use, and are often given away free. So most people just take them home and throw them out in the trash. Instead of doing the one thing that can help and that is recycle them. Here are a few of the Pros for the continued use of plastic bags. For retailers, one huge advantage of plastic bags is that they are less expensive to produce then other types of bags. Plastic bags take less energy to make, ship, and recycle. Plastic bags cause less air and water pollution because they compress to a small size in landfills.

They can be a clean method container for transporting food products and preventing food borne illness. Plastic bags are reusable as trash bags or bin bags. In addition, plastic bags can be recycled. Tina Dines stated, “According to The New York Times, a standard plastic grocery bag costs only about a penny to produce this is a much more affordable bag for the merchants to use. ” (Deins, 03) The cons for the use of plastic grocery bags According to The New York Times, “only 5. 2 percent of plastic bags in the United States’ were recycled in 2005. In comparison, paper bags were recycled about 21 percent of the time. (Deins, 03) Plastic shopping bags created from petroleum and other chemicals, and when disposed of improperly, they are ugly to look at and many forms of wildlife mistake them for food this will endanger them. According to Reuters, 12 million barrels of oil are needed to produce plastic bags that are used each year. Plastics do not easily break down in a landfill. “They can be very dangerous to animals and can cause infants to suffocate which has been a known problem for years when not disposed of properly. ” (Dell03) We need to work on making more biodegradable plastic bags and bottles.

One of the major concerns about biodegradable bags and bottles is that, if they are not disposed of correctly, they will not decompose in the landfill. Some biodegradable plastics will not decompose if not exposed to light or oxygen; this as well means they may not decompose in landfills. Kristina Dell, a reporter, for Time Magazine wrote regarding Plastics “A Regular, petroleum-based plastic doesn’t biodegrade. ” (Dell03). She also speaks about Bio Plastic. This is a newer type of plastic that will biodegrade however; it has to be placed into a compost pile for this to occur.

It appears that these plastics are more environmentally friendly as well. They release less toxic gases while being produced and are not able to release the toxic chemicals that regular plastics leach out over the years. While this is a great idea and looks like it could be a good alternative to regular plastics in the future. There are the down sides of bio plastic. “It cost much more to be manufactured and, it only works if it is put into a compost pile. ” (May 2010). Would it be a feasible alternative to expect people to start composting so that they can get rid of all of their plastic items.

In addition, I wonder how is this going to be accomplished in states like New York where these is nothing in the city’s except concrete? I doubt that this is a feasible option; and think that we will need to come up with an alternative solution for this problem. At this time, the recycling programs throughout the country are becoming more effective but they are absolutely far from having the ability to handle the amount of recycling needs that they should be able to thus we need to find a way amp them up to the point that we can recycle everything that is possible to recycle.

In most counties, they limit the items that they are willing to handle. Currently we should be able to recycle everything that we have as trash. Most of the items we buy at the store have a recycle label on them but at this time many of the garbage companies are not equipped to handle all types of recyclable trash thus the garbage collection company limits the consumer. Todd Johnson, at About Dot Come writes. “The plastic recycling process is fraught with flaws. Some of the dyes used in creating the plastic can be contaminated and cause an entire batch of potential recycling material to be scrapped.

Additionally there are still a large percentage of people who refuse to recycle, thus the actual numbers of plastics being returned for reuse is roughly 10% of what is purchased as new by consumers. ” (Johnson, ND) The town that I live in has just in the last year allowed us to start recycling aluminum foil and plastic bags, however they don’t allow Styrofoam to be added to the recycle bin. According to Waste Management Services, they state that they are North Americas, largest recyclers. They now offer curbside pickup return by mail kits and more than 30 drop off locations for their customer’s convenience.

This is a copy of the list of plastic items, which cannot be recycled. “NO Styrofoam take-out containers, Styrofoam, packing peanuts, Styrofoam cups , Plastic caps or lids (under 3 inches), Plastic plates or utensils, Plastic clothes hangers, Empty motor oil or anti-freeze containers, Empty prescription vials, Candy wrappers or chip bags, and Ziploc bags”. This is the list of plastics that are not to be put into the recycle bins provided to the customer’s for Allied Waste site for the city of Kent. (Allied) We need to increase the amount of plastics that are being recycled.

According to the EPA with plastics in 2009, we generated 29. 83 tons of plastic waste and the weight of the plastic recovered was only 2. 12 tons, which is only 7. 1% that was possibly recycled. We did a little better in 2010 according to the EPA report we generated 31. 04 tons of plastic waste and recovered 7. 87 tons with 8. 2% recycled. When someone separates plastics for recycling at home, it makes it easier for the recycling station to get their job done. That means we need to help them out by doing this at our homes it only takes a few minutes of our time.

Recycled plastics, can be used in the manufacturing of some kinds of concrete for making roads, benches, bottles, some carpets, and even “decking boards plus many other things. ” (Caliendo) Buying products that contain recycled plastics encourages the manufactures to continue coming up with ideas using recycled plastics. At this time, there are many groups, which are asking us to get serious about changing the way we use plastics, groups like The Plastic Pollution Coalition. That “Encourage, inspire and support individuals, organizations and businesses to end their dependence on disposable plastic.

To reduce their plastic footprint;” (PPC , UN) and TILTZ The Tear Fund International Learning Zone, who stated” In South Africa, plastic bags are so common, they are called the ‘national flower’ also “In India, around 100 cows die each day, from eating plastic bags that litter the streets. ” (TILTZ) In addition, in an article from the Seattle PI by Joan Lowy called Plastic Left Holding the Bag as Environmental Plague Nations around world look at a ban she stated, “There is a growing international movement to ban or discourage the use of plastic bags because of their environmental effects. Lowy, 2004) “One of the ideas that came to my attention is the bottle bill. The term “bottle bill” is actually another way of saying “container deposit law. ” “A container deposit law requires a small refundable deposit some times 10 cents or less on beer, soft drinks and other beverage containers in hopes that it will ensure a high rate of recycling or reuse. ” (Bottle Bill) “The deposit-refund system was created by the beverage industry as a means of guaranteeing the return of their glass bottles to be washed, refilled, and resold. (Bottle Bill) Currently 11 states have a version of the Bottle Bill they are Oregon, Vermont, Michigan, Maine, Iowa, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Delaware, New York, California, and Hawaii. “It starts out by the beverage company charging a small deposit on all included drinking containers delivered to the merchant. The merchant then charges a deposit to the customer who when they return the container can then get a refund on their deposit. Then when the merchant returns the bottles back to the distributor, the merchant is refunded his original deposit and then he usually gets a small handling fee s well which in theory should make it worth the merchant’s time for having to do all of the work. ” (Bottle Bill) When I was a child, I can remember going around looking for Soda and Beer bottles to take to the grocery store and get the refund for candy. It was quite fun to have that as an activity. We need to start working seriously on biodegradable bags. At this time, we are still looking for a way to deal with the pollution that plastic bags and bottles cause. We need to get serious about finding an answer to the problem of plastic pollution.

For if we do not we are going to leave a huge mess for the future generations to deal with. We need to recycle, reduce, and reuse plastic now rather than later. All the while, we need to continue the research going on to come up with a better alternative The damage that plastic is doing to the wildlife is catastrophic. The Sea life is actually ingesting pieces of plastic as they are mistaking it for food. Since the plastics are made with harmful chemicals is it safe to eat them. According to the Earth Resource Foundation. The following quote was on their website. The leatherback turtle can keep itself warm in cold water, dive over 1000 meters below sea level, travel thousands of miles and gulp down a Portuguese man-of-war but is threatened by the inert plastic shopping bag” – Mrosovky, N. 1987 (ERF) Many countries have banned the use of plastic bags. Per the Rolling Stone Politics news site countries like Bangladesh, China, the City of Delhi, and Italy have banned the use of plastic bags or have started to fine companies and consumers that are using them. Countries from Ireland to Australia are cracking down on the bags”. (Lowy, 2004) The large amount of plastic water bottles and plastic grocery bags are causing damage to the world’s environment that we may not be able to repair The United States has not taken a stand on this problem and many believe it is because of the big oil corporations using their political pull. “American shoppers use an estimated 102 billion plastic shopping bags each year more than 500 per consumer. ” (Doucette, 2011) In addition, this would mean that a huge amount of oil would not, be needed to produce them. I believe that one of the best answers at this time is to work hard on making alternative plastics namely biodegradable plastics. Per Jodie Shah “There are numerous so-called biodegradable plastic bags within the marketplace; even so, most of them are not genuinely environment friendly. Most biodegradable plastic bags are durable enough for repeated use. ” She also states, “Recycling may be the very best strategy to preserve the planet. It prevents garbage accumulation and preserves the planet’s ozone layer. There is no good reason that people should not use these environment friendly bags.

They are beginning to cost less, and won’t cause as much damage to the environment. ” (Shah, ND) The idea to reduce the amount of plastic waste should be a simple project to accomplish simply by reducing the plastic to begin with. This can and would be an easy fix. We just need to change how we are using plastic at home and on the road. The amount of recycled plastic is an embarrassing and unthinkable statistic; with only 8. 2% of plastic recycled according to the EPA, we need to increase it by at least 94. 8%. I am aware that I am asking for the world with that amount but in fact, I am asking for the world.

Works Cited Deins, Tina. (02/20/2013). Plastic grocery bag pros & cons. E How. Money Retrieved 20 February 2013 www. ehow. com/info_8162166_plastic-grocery-bag-pros-cons. html Dell, Kristina. (May 2010 03). The promise and pitfalls of bio plastic. Time Magazine Retrieved 20 February 2013 from www. time. com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1983894,00. htm Johnson, T. (ND). Recycling plastics the plastic recycling process. Retrieved from http://composite. about. com/od/Plastics/a/Recycling-Plastics. htm EPA, “Municipal Solid Waste Generation, Recycling, and Disposal in the United States: Facts and Figures for 2009. In addition, 2010 EPA. EPA, 0 12 2010. Web. 11 Mar 2013. <http://www. epa. gov/osw/nonhaz/municipal/pubs/msw2009-fs. pdf>. Ryals, Rachael Anne. “How to Manage Plastic Waste. ” E How Money. E How Money. Web. 11 Mar 2013. <http://www. ehow. com/how_7426106_manage-plastic-waste. html retrieved 03/13/13 (Bottle Bill) What is a bottle bill? Retrieved from http://www. bottlebill. org/about/whatis. htm Retrieved 03/13/13 Lowy, J. (2004, July 21). Plastic left holding the bag as environmental plague nations around world look at a ban. Retrieved from http://www. ommondreams. org/headlines04/0721-04. htm03/13/2013 TILTZ. (n. d. ). Action against plastic bags. Retrieved from http://tilz. tearfund. org/Publications/Footsteps 51-60/Footsteps 59/Action against plastic bags. htmRetrieved 03/13/2013 PPC (UN). Plastic pollution coalition mission statement. Retrieved from http://plasticpollutioncoalition. org/about/mission-and-goals/ 03/13/13 Shah, J. (ND). Why should you use biodegradable plastic bags? Retrieved from http://www. articlesnatch. com/Article/Why-Should-You-Use-Biodegradable-Plastic-Bags/3629843 Retrieved 03/13/13 Allied, W. n. d. ). List of plastics that can be recycled. Retrieved from http://www. alliedwastekent. com/Documents/RecycleUnderLid. pdf 03/15/13 ERF. (n. d. ). Campaign against the plastic plague. Retrieved from http://www. earthresource. org/campaigns/capp/capp-goals. html 03/15/13 Doucette, K. (2011, July 25). The plastic bag wars. Retrieved from http://www. rollingstone. com/politics/news/the-plastic-bag-wars-20110725 Caliendo, Heather. “Recycled plastic bags used to rebuild boardwalks damaged by Hurricane Sandy. ” Plastics Today. Plastics Today, 11 Mar 2013. Web. 16 Mar 2013

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