Plastic wrap the world and it suffocates to death

Trashed - the poster

Trashed – the poster

The documentary Trashed has Jeremy Irons narrating a 98 minute film about waste, the amount of it and what we do or don’t do with it. I hadn’t even heard of this documentary and I do give a damn.

I came across mention of Jeremy Irons today in the online news as having been at Brussels on Thursday talking at the EU launch of its green paper on plastic waste. He is backing the EU campaign against plastic waste. It has to be legislated against because individuals don’t care enough to make the effort to refuse plastic packaging and bags. I know this from my Australian life.

Jeremy Irons at the EU 7 March 2013

Jeremy Irons at the EU 7 March 2013

Most people think of single-use plastic carry bags as the problem and, of course, they are. They are a symbol of our disposable society. Wales and the Republic of Ireland address the problem by charging for these bags and as a consequence their use has dropped by some 90% – hit ‘em in the pocket and they change their ways. Northern Ireland will be charging 5p a bag as of April 2013.

England and Scotland offer plastic carry bags hand over fist in supermarkets and other retail stores. A figure of 8 billion was mentioned in a Which article. Householders use them and some re-use them as bin liners giving them an extra use. Mostly they end up in land fill. I also found out that black bin liners can’t be isolated in recycling centres because they don’t register on the scanners. No more black plastic for me!

To my mind the problem with product packaging is much worse. There are many types of polymers used for plastic packaging and the ones that don’t degrade are a massive problem. It also seems to me that EU directives have had a lot to do with the proliferation of plastic wrapping. Maybe it also has to do with big money in the business of producing plastics of all types. Here’s the trailer for Trashed:

To apparently deter theft, manufacturers now wrap the smallest retail items in hard and unbreakable plastic containers too big to fit into a coat pocket. Apart from being a massive amount of non-degradable plastic to add to the waste stream, it is dangerous because it has to be cut and is as sharp as glass.

Everything, just everything is packed in plastic. A new electronic item – comes in a box, cushioned by moulded or custom-cut polystyrene with component parts wrapped individually in plastic bags. The instruction booklets are also wrapped in plastic bags.

The polystyrene has to go into landfill (as does polyurethane foam) – the recyclers can’t deal with it. The box is recyclable and the bags are as well (theoretically).

Milk bottles, soft drink bottles, plastic tubs of butter, jams, sauces and so many food items – all in plastic. Then there are plastic bags provided in the aisles to fill up with vegetables – one for each different type of fruit or veg. Tubs of prepared foods, salads with plastic forks included. Cling wrap over all other foods – that goes to landfill as well. Then there are the foil lined crisp and biscuit bags. The list just goes on. Sometimes I get angry and refuse any unnecessary packaging; most times I just get depressed as everyone around me accepts it all as the norm.

I suppose most people, by now, realise that if we survive to 2050 with some diminution in world population and consumption, we might make it to the end of this century. So maybe people no longer give a damn because we are all going to hell in a hand basket anyway. The basic problem of overpopulation is never addressed productively. Bandaids only.

When I see or hear of instances like whales being washed up dead having starved because their bellies were full of non degradable trash, or sea turtles whose stomachs were full of cigarette butts that had washed down the storm water systems, or see this:

Nicknamed 'peanut' for the deformity imposed by our waste

Nicknamed ‘peanut’ for the deformity imposed by our waste

I get depressed. Sometimes I end up in frustrated tears. I know I have posted a number of images

Canoeing through the Patch

Canoeing through the Patch

about the rubbish that we consumers produce and litter our planet with, but here are some more.

China's hidden waterways

China’s hidden waterways

Great Pacific Garbage Patch

Great Pacific Garbage Patch

One comment on “Plastic wrap the world and it suffocates to death

  1. Veronique says:

    I checked out dear old Wikipedia and while it doesn’t give a depth to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, it does report area estimates of 700,000 km2 to over a million km2. The references cited at the end of the article are:

    Indian Ocean garbage patch
    North Atlantic garbage patch
    Ecosystem of the North Pacific Subtropical Gyre
    Marine debris
    Plastic particle water pollution
    The blob (Chukchi Sea algae)

    I suggest we check all of these out since the collection vortexes occur in each oceanic area.

    I am depressed all over again, sob. I am only 70 but I will see a lot more of this before I leave consciousness.

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