Plastic Waste

by Michael Smith

In 2007, 3.9 billion pounds of plastic waste went un-recycled in the United States. The U.S., while not the largest in land nor population, is by far the leading nation in terms of waste. This is not much better, I should think, I Britain either, even though bottles are being collected by the municipalities and people in fact do put them, from their households, into the right bins and such.

This growing problem of waste that is not being recycled has a detrimental effect on the world in which we live. Every plastic bottle that gets thrown in the trash is a missed opportunity to reuse our resources and help preserve the environment.

I have a problem with the plastic bottle and bottled water and more as to the water than the plastic bottles and as far as I am concerned those bottled should be phased out and we should get back to carrying water in reusable water bottles.

The problem is that even if the plastic bottles and other plastics, such as yogurt tubs, and whatever else, is being put into the plastics recycling bins, collected by the municipalities, and then sorted properly and all that, in the present climate – the economical not the natural, the places where we used to ship the stuff to, such as China, do not want any at present as they have no use for it at this moment.

However, as I have said more than once before, why does this material leave this country in the first place and is not reprocessed here, at home?

It is said to be better, financially, to send it abroad and have it processed there as the new plastics are going to be used in places such as China. To me, I am afraid to say, that does not make sense and does not compute and if definitely does not make sense as far as the environmental footprint, often referred to as “carbon footprint”, is concerned.

It is madness to export such resources, those secondary raw materials, as they were called in the German Democratic Republic, the old “communist” East Germany, to places far afield to be processed there and then to come back to us as finished products “Made in China”. Instead the processing into new should be done at home; giving us a new manufacturing industry base. There are some companies who do just that in this country and they are even competitive. So why can we not do it all?

The answer to the latter question is simple: in Britain the powers that be decided some years ago that the UK was going to do financial services, basically, only, and all our manufacturing industry base was sold off to foreign firms who, in the end, closed most of the operations down.

In the looming depression, however, we should look, nay we must, once again, to get manufacturing going at home and we should then, also, keep those industries at home and not allow them to leave again or end up in foreign ownership.

Keeping our manufacturing and other industry “at home” is also a green way of doing things, and one that will benefit the people of our home countries, whichever this may be.

© M Smith (Veshengro), March 2009