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Green plastic bottles and bags in the US

  1. Apr 30, 2014 #1
    I just got back from a trip to Japan and one thing I was super impressed with was that all the plastic bags and bottles were derived from plants and thus would safely breakdown over time. I know California has some tough laws, but what about the rest of the US. Why are we not using plant plastic? Of course cost, but we are trashing the world! Not worth it!
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 30, 2014 #2

    dlgoff

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    I was just about to say, "I'll drink to that" until I read this paper. However I'm not sure if it's an acceptable source?

    "www.news.pitt.edu/sites/default/files/documents/TaboneLandis_etal.pdf" [Broken]

     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 6, 2017
  4. Apr 30, 2014 #3

    Monique

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    Are you sure it is better? Biodegradable plastic does not break down in an ambient environment: it needs to be composted for 180 days.

    A better system is to charge for plastic bags so that people would be less wasteful and bring their own bags.
     
  5. Apr 30, 2014 #4
    Personally I think it's just going to make people mad and stores won't hop on that bandwagon. Either outright ban plastic bags or make them biodegradable.
     
  6. Apr 30, 2014 #5

    Monique

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    Most stores in the Netherlands charge for plastic bags, I've never heard anyone complain. A ban would never work and I've yet to hear about biodegradable plastic that really does what it claims.

    Another drawback is that the biodegradable plastic is made out of corn (at least the kind that I know of), which drives up food prizes.

    I hope you can read German, the Germany’s Federal Environment Agency says (translated): "Packaging made of biodegradable plastics are not superior to those of conventional plastics"
    http://www.umweltbundesamt.de/presse/presseinformationen/biokunststoffe-nicht-besser

    Or read this: http://www.sustainableplastics.org/spotlight/biodegradable-plastics-true-or-false-good-or-bad
    If there is better news I'd like to hear it.
     
    Last edited: Apr 30, 2014
  7. Apr 30, 2014 #6
    Same here in Belgium. Also I find using those tough reusable bags easier on the hand.
     
  8. Apr 30, 2014 #7

    phyzguy

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    When I lived in France, they wouldn't give you a bag. After carrying my groceries home in my arms once, I never again forgot to bring a bag!
     
  9. Apr 30, 2014 #8

    Monique

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    Hah, I had that once! I bought a Baguette in Paris and the baker refused to give a bag to go along with it!
     
  10. Apr 30, 2014 #9
    Maybe I am very wrong, but I just don't see vast portions of Americans accepting that they need to bring their own bag. It's not right, but it's how I see things here.
     
  11. Apr 30, 2014 #10

    Monique

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    No one said there wouldn't be bags available, I think that's a bad idea.

    However, if the bag starts costing money (which of course it does) people'll start thinking about reusing the plastic bag or getting a sturdy one. The money paid could go towards recycling of the plastic. In some stores there is a container where people can dump their used bags and customers can use those. But then I don't like using a bag if I don't know where it's been :smile:

    As said, considerable effort needs to go towards recycling biodegradable plastics as well. How do the Japanese do that? If the biodegradable plastic ends up in a trash bin, there is no benefit.
     
  12. Apr 30, 2014 #11
    They are quite strict and people pretty much follow the rules in Japan. This is not the case in America where convenience rules.
     
  13. Apr 30, 2014 #12
    Why are reusable bags better than disposable? Reusable cost more money and resources to make, need to be washed and will still wear out eventually.

    What is the problem with disposables? Is it chemicals they leech into the ground water? And do reusables not leech chemicals? Or is it the energy it takes to make disposables vs reusable? If its simple landfill space then I am not convinced disposables are a problem. In my city we do not dump our trash in the ocean so our disposable plastic bags just go to a landfill.

    I think its easy and somewhat knee-jerk to just assume that single use equals bad, but that is not necessarily the case. I've read articles that claim either way, its not so clear cut to me.
     
  14. Apr 30, 2014 #13

    Monique

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    That was not my question: I wonder how the plastic is being gathered and decomposed in Japan.

    And with the convenience spirit of American culture I don't see how the plastic would be appropriately be disposed of. How is waste handled currently, is glass/paper/plastic/organics/clothing being disposed of seperately by consumers?
     
  15. Apr 30, 2014 #14

    DavidSnider

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    Recycling is pretty much the norm in Japan.
     
  16. Apr 30, 2014 #15

    Q_Goest

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    Our grocery store in Pennsylvania recycles the plastic grocery bags (since they're not made of plastic that is normally recyclable). I would have thought that was common practice now.

    Pennsylvania also requires recyclable material to be recycled. It's picked up with the regular garbage, and they have single stream recycling so you don't need to sort.

    I wonder how it is in other states and other countries?
     
  17. Apr 30, 2014 #16

    lisab

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    Depends where you live. In Seattle (city limits), they charge you for bags by law. Everyone brings bags when they shop now.
     
  18. May 1, 2014 #17

    Monique

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    So it is in many other countries, like the Netherlands. Glass/paper/plastic/organics/clothing is mostly collected separately. However, it's not uncommon for the separated good to be dumped on the same landfill: cost of recycling is high. For soft drink bottles extra money needs to be paid upon purchase, which can be reclaimed upon return of the bottle. There is now talk to stop this practice: recycling the bottles is not economical.

    One can introduce bioplastic and pretend it's all good, but 1) the production is expensive, 2) the decomposition is time consuming and expensive. Who is going to pay for that, how is Japan handling that? Do they really decompose the bioplastics? I cannot find any information on that.

     
  19. May 1, 2014 #18
    well certain stores in Canada, Sobey's for example has green water bottles. for water coolers, so its coming
     
  20. May 1, 2014 #19

    Hepth

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    I've noticed that here in Europe people tend to buy a LOT less at each grocery store trip. I believe this is due to the majority of the population living near large, dense cities and relying on public transportation; you can only carry so much. The public transportation is usually pretty good even out into the suburbs. So when I shop now I bring along two of my Carrefour reusable bags and thats about how much I buy. When I live in the US I drive my car to a grocery store and basically fill the cart with things. (Oh, today I should buy that 40lb dogfood bag, I might as well buy 4 loaves of bread because theyre on sale and just freeze 3, and these soup cans are only $0.60 so I might as well stock up and get 12..) I hate buying more than one bottle of wine now as its too heavy to carry home if I got other stuff.
    (I also have a fridge, freezer and pantry in the US that are about 4x larger than the ones here in Europe). On average I'd say I have about 10 bags of stuff by the time I'm done in the US. (And usually when shopping its not abnormal to see families with 2 carts full of groceries).

    Maybe its that Americans can't be bothered to go grocery shopping 2-3 times a week. Maybe its the small fridges Europeans use. Maybe its the better public transport and lack of cars. But I don't think Americans will ever get away from the full-load grocery shopping, due to the convenience, nor do I see them brining 12 reusable bags to do that kind of shopping unless its forced on them.
     
  21. May 3, 2014 #20
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