War on Plastics Misguided

Do you feel bad when you see pictures of plastic waste in the world’s oceans? Most certainly, and any decent human being would. In fact, governments fail to do enough to stop the dumping of plastic waste into the environment and are still inefficient at holding companies to account for these ecological disasters.

That said, the solution of many environmental campaigners – banning all plastic items and packaging – is misguided.

A new report by Greenpeace outlines that a large section of plastic waste in the United States is not recycled and pairs this with its advocacy for banning single-use plastic items. In fact, campaigners have argued for the General Services Administration (GSA) to cease all acquisition of single-use plastic items.

This ignores the fact that we need plastic for many things: ranging from medical equipment to cleaning gear, from packaging to extend shelf-life to containers to keep our food intact for delivery. Neither the federal government nor individual consumers can afford to phase out plastic.

That said, we shouldn’t preserve plastic for plastics’ sake (even if it is associated with countless jobs). In fact, all too often, plastics outperform their substitute products in efficiency and environmental impact — as anyone who has tried to use a single-use paper bag in the rain can attest to.

As I’ve outlined for Newsmax before, single-use plastic shopping bags outperform all its alternatives when it comes to the environment, not least because cotton or paper bags are not reused as often as they should be, but also because consumers reuse plastic bags as an alternative to bin liners.

If we were to abandon plastic packaging, we would reduce the shelf-life of groceries and eliminate ready-made meals that consumers want. This would increase food waste. Since food production has a carbon footprint far higher than plastic packaging, this move would be counterproductive.

Let’s also not forget that about 11% of ocean plastic pollution results from microplastics, and 75%-86% of plastic in the Pacific Ocean garbage patch comes directly from offshore fishing, not consumer products. Not all waste is littered, and the same applies to plastic waste; it is thus misleading for activists to unfairly amalgamate both aspects of plastic waste disposal.

Of Americans living in cities with a population of over 125,000, 90% already have access to recycling facilities for single-use plastic items. What the United States needs is even more access to these facilities and the boosting of advanced recycling, which not just washes and compounds polymers, but dissolves plastics into their original compounds.

This aspect of the circular economy will make plastics a more sustainable consumer good. On top of the existing recycling rate, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has the specific goal of increasing the recycling rate to 50% by 2030.

Any rule or regulation that restricts the choices of consumers is bad. However, it somehow is even worse when the suggested rule does not even achieve the results it intended. Banning plastics would not just deprive us of products we need but also increase our carbon footprint in many sectors.

Originally published here

Would a single-use plastic ban be counterproductive?

petition filed by a number of environmental organizations calls on the General Services Administration to halt the acquisition of single-use plastics across the entire federal government. According to these groups, plastic packaging harms the environment, and with the U.S government being the largest consumer of goods and services in the world (spending more than $650 billion on products and services each year), it should uphold a standard of abandoning plastic.

However, contrary to the idealism of the campaigners, banning the federal government from using single-use plastic goods would not benefit the environment. In fact, life-cycle assessments on items such as single-use plastic bags have shown that there is a discrepancy between actual re-use rates of alternative bags and the re-use rate to break even on environmental grounds. Paper bags need to be re-used four times, LDPE bags five times, non-woven PP bags 14 times and cotton bags 173 times. Their actual re-use rates are about half that, making them less sustainable than single-use plastic bags, which may also be used by consumers as bin liners. A 2020 study by University of Michigan Professor Shelie Miller displayed how alternatives to single-use plastic items are dependent on high re-use rates. Those rates are often not achieved.

The same effects appear when we compare glass bottles to plastic bottles. As glass bottles are much heavier, their carbon footprint for transport is also higher. Whoever substitutes a plastic straw with a bamboo straw should also probably be aware of their significant carbon footprint.

Further than that, the federal government doesn’t only purchase plastic straws or plastic-bottled water. In fact, a ban on plastic would impact a plethora of products the government acquires for vital services, ranging from national parks and wildlife to construction and shipping logistics. If the GSA were to consider a ban, the least it should do is conduct an impact assessment on the effect it would have on sustaining those services. However, as a general measure, a ban is no strategy for transition: It prevents government departments from using plastic where necessary and does not guarantee a path forward for substitution. For instance, the GSA is transitioning to electrify its fleet of vehicles, yet without banning gasoline-powered vehicles. 

A lot of the animosity toward plastic is derived from the idea that all single-use plastics are just used once and then burned in a pit or thrown in the ocean. This outdated perception drives a lot of the imagery we see used by campaigners.

In fact, the concept of “single-use” becomes redundant after we consider how far we’ve come with recycling. Over 90 percent of Americans living in cities with a population of over 125,000 people, already have access to recycling of single-use plastic bags. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the U.S recycling rate for what’s known as PET plastics (polyethylene terephthalate) increased from 2 percent in the 1980s to more than 24 percent in 2018. Over time, an increasing amount of plastics will end up being endlessly recycled.

A ban on single-use plastics through the General Services Administration would undermine the immense progress that has been made in the field of plastics over the past decades. The divestment from plastic would prevent manufacturers from developing new products and increase prices for everyday consumer goods. Most of all, it would be counterproductive to the goals that the environmental activists claim they support. In fact, it’s another one of those examples where supporters of single-use plastic can say to environmentalists: I’m on your side, but you’re not.

Originally published here

Our eco-harmful plastics ban

Rather than endorsing costly and ineffective plastic bans, we should look to innovators who are offering a third way on plastics

While Canadians were busy unwrapping presents on Christmas Day, their federal government was busy releasing draft regulations for its single use plastic ban. Friday afternoons, the start of holiday weekends, Christmas: Ottawa often releases regulatory information at inopportune times, usually to avoid scrutiny, and that’s likely the story for the plastics ban. Despite their unimpeachably green origins and objectives, the draft regulations on single-use plastics would be a huge net negative for the environment, mostly because of the arbitrary nature of what is, and isn’t, considered “single use.”

The draft regulations have four exemptions for when a single-use plastic product is not prohibited. The first is the “hot water test.” Any plastic cutlery or straw that can withstand being submerged at a temperature between 82 and 86 degrees Celsius for 15 minutes is exempt from the ban. So, according to the “spin-cycle test,” is any plastic bag that can withstand being washed in a laundry spin cycle designed for cottons.

The third and most arbitrary of the exemptions is the “heavy bag test,” which exempts any plastic bag if it can carry 10kg of weight over a distance of 53 metres, 100 times. This exemption leaves us with more questions than answers: How quickly does one have to walk, or run, the 53 metres? Are the 100 53-metre trips consecutive? And how was that number picked anyway? Does one of the drafters live 53 metres from his or her favourite bakery or corner store?

The last and most hilarious exemption is what I call the “black market exemption.” A retailer may offer plastic straws for sale but they are to be stored so customers cannot see them and must be asked for explicitly. But customers must buy them in packs of 20 or more. That’s right, whether you need only one straw or just a few you will have to buy at least 20. So much for curbing waste.

Yes, these are actual regulations drafted by the actual government of Canada. And in addition to reading like a Monty Python skit they very likely would be a net negative for the environment.

Because sturdier plastic products can earn exemption from the ban, all that manufacturers need do to comply with the law is produce products using heavier woven plastics. The overall effect may well be to increase the net amount of plastic being produced. Consumers will be faced with a choice between these heavier single-use plastic products that meet the exemption or non-plastic substitutes that are even worse for the environment.

These substitutes include paper bags whose production is energy- and resource-intensive — so much so that according to Denmark’s environment ministry , paper bags would each need to be re-used 43 times to bring their per-use impact on the environment down to the per-use impact of the single-use plastic bags currently available at Canadian grocery stores. For most people, re-using a paper bag 43 times is virtually impossible.

Even worse: when the alternative option is a cotton bag, that number skyrockets to 7,100 uses. A consumer substituting a cotton bag for plastic would need 136 years of weekly grocery store trips to be as environmentally friendly as single-use plastic is.

In addition, Ottawa’s own analysis shows that alternatives to single-use plastics currently in use are significantly more expensive. Paper bags, on top of being worse for the environment, are 2.6 times more expensive than single-use plastic bags. Single-use cutlery made of wood is 2.25 times more expensive than single-use plastic cutlery, while paper straw alternatives are three times more expensive.

The real problem with our national plastics strategy is that we aren’t pushing for expanding “chemical depolymerization,” otherwise known as advanced recycling. According to the government’s most recent analysis, which dates from 2016, only one per cent of plastic waste is chemically recycled. This is the process where plastic is broken down and repurposed into new products. Innovative projects underway across Canada are taking simple plastics, altering their chemical bonds, and repurposing them into resin pellets , tiles for your home , and even road asphalt . This approach to solving the problem of plastic waste would be in line with Ottawa’s approach of mandating producer responsibility for plastic waste, and is something that plastic producers have already expressed interest in expanding. This is especially true for companieswho have already made pledges regarding recycled plastic.

The Trudeau government could embrace the science that makes these technologies both scalable and sustainable. Rather than endorsing costly and ineffective plastic bans, riddled with exemptions that may only increase plastic waste, we should look to innovators who are offering a third way on plastics. That would be an approach that expands consumer choice while limiting mismanaged waste and protecting the environment.

Originally published here

More plastics bans will not impact the environment but will impact consumers

“Up to 95% of all plastic found in the world’s oceans comes from just 10 source rivers, which are all in the developing world.”

Policy makers at all levels have declared effective war on plastics. Municipalities have enacted water bottle bans, provinces have sought to restrict or prohibit the sale of certain items, and the federal government has gone so far as to classify all plastic as “toxic” under the Canadian Environment Protection Act. 

The arguments against these policies have been well documented. Alternatives to single use plastics are almost always worse for the environment based on a life cycle analysis, and there are new innovations available to use that actually deal with the issue of mismanaged plastic waste, rather than using the long arm of the state to ban items.

All of that said, you would think that the environmental activists who pushed for these policies would be content with their policy victory, but they aren’t. As always, they want more, which ultimately means more government involvement in the economy, and in the lives of consumer.

Oceana, for example, was one of the loudest voices calling for all sorts of heavy-handed policies to deal with plastic waste. Unfortunately, Canadians have given these advocates an inch, and now they want to take a mile.

Just this month Oceana launched a new campaign titled “A Plastic Free July” where they are calling on the government to drastically expand on their incoming single use plastic ban to almost everything except medical devices. Their statement reads “As currently proposed, the federal government’s ban on six single-use plastics covers less than one percent of the plastic products we use – a drop in the bucket for an ocean drowning in plastic waste.”

Oceana is right, those products represent a small percentage of the plastic that ends up in our oceans. But their conclusion that we need to “ban more things” won’t magically mean that there is less plastic in the ocean, mostly because Canadians, and single use plastics, are not responsible for the vast majority of mismanaged plastic in our oceans. 

Up to 95% of all plastic found in the world’s oceans comes from just 10 source rivers, which are all in the developing world. Canada on average, contributes less than 0.01 MT (millions of metric tonnes) of mismanaged plastic waste. In contrast, countries like Indonesia and the Philippines contribute 10.1% and 5.9% of the world’s mismanaged plastic, which is upwards of 300 times Canada’s contribution. China, the world’s largest plastics polluter, accounts for 27.7% of the world’s mismanaged plastic. Canada, when compared to European countries like England, Spain, Italy, Portugal and France, actually contributes four times less in mismanaged plastic. The only European countries on par with Canada are the significantly smaller Sweden, Norway and Finland

Beyond the fact that Canadians are not significant contributors to the issue of marine plastic waste, most of the plastic in our oceans, regardless of the source country, isn’t from consumer products at all. Approximately 50% of all plastic in the ocean comes directly from the fishing industry, who often carelessly dump used nets in the ocean, which is a serious problem in need of a solution.

These two inconvenient truths should raise immediate red flags as to the efficacy of plastic bans, and should cause us to outright reject calls for more bans on consumer products. These bans won’t make any serious impact on the issue of plastic waste in our oceans, all while making life more expensive for ordinary Canadians, while pushing them to alternative products with a higher environmental impact. 

Rather than caving to a call for expanded bans, or the silly idea of a “Plastic Free July.” we should instead narrow our sights on empowering innovators to solve these problems. Incredible technologies have been created in Alberta in the past few years to deal with plastic waste, which include taking single-use products and turning them into everything from resin pelletstiles for your home and even road asphalt. Even better, scientists have now figured out a way to take these problematic plastics, flash heat them, and turn them into graphene, which is currently priced at around $100,000/tonne and has tremendous potential in the construction industry.

We realistically have two paths to deal with the plastic waste we produce. We can seek to ban items that people use, which will inflate prices and have no serious impact on marine waste. Or, we can lean on innovators to remove plastic from the environment and extend the lifespan of those plastics indefinitely, while creating jobs and lowering costs. When faced with this fork in the road, the superior path forward is pretty obvious.

Originally published here.


The Minderoo foundation released a report outlining the multinational corporations they claim are responsible for producing and financing single-use plastic products globally.

The report, which was internationally covered, calls for additional regulations to help curb the issue of mismanaged plastic waste. Unfortunately, their proposals largely ignore the immense consumer costs associated with increased regulatory efforts.

 “The Minderoo Foundation’s report on plastic waste completely ignores the additional costs to consumers that arise from heavy-handed regulations. Their suggestions, in addition to what has already been proposed by Congress, are a recipe for disaster that will significantly increase the prices paid by consumers”, said David Clement, North American Affairs Manager for the DC-based Consumer Choice Center.

“The Foundation’s report seems to ignore the fact that the Break Free From Plastic Pollution Act, and CLEAN Future Act, set the stage for a moratorium on permits for advanced recycling facilities. This is important because a polymer recycling mandate, like the one proposed in the report, is not feasible if Congress simultaneously bans the creation of new advanced recycling facilities.

“If Congress were to act on the Minderoo Foundation’s report, they would create a recycled content mandate while at the same time significantly limiting the ability of advanced recycling facilities to keep pace. That will cause demand for recycled plastics to skyrocket without creating the necessary infrastructure needed to increase the supply of recycled plastic, which will put tremendous upward pressure on prices. It would be a terrible outcome for consumers, especially given the financial uncertainty forced upon so many Americans because of the pandemic,” he added.

Originally published here.

Governor Northam signs single-use plastic ban

Virginia Governor Ralph Northam signed an executive order banning single-use plastics at state agencies to help decrease pollution. One advocacy worker says this action may cause more harm than good.

“Alternatives to single-use plastics aren’t always environmentally advantageous. They’re not always better for the environment, in comparison to single-use plastic items,” said North American Affairs Manager for Consumer Choice Center David Clement.

Clement adds the order is heavy-handed and overlooks the more viable solution of recycling or breaking down and re-claiming plastics to be used again.

“There are innovative examples from across North America where scientists, researchers and entrepreneurs are taking these problematic plastics, they are altering their chemical bonds and then repurposing them into resin pellets, into tiles for your home, into high-strength graffing which is used in construction, and there are even examples where they fused these repurposed plastics with bitumen and turned them into highly durable roadways,” Clement said. “So this approach empowers innovation to solve the issue of plastic waste, it creates jobs and it does it while protecting the environment.”

Clement adds Northam has signed an advanced recycling bill into law to address this alternative, and the ban will not affect privately owned spaces like grocery stores.

Originally published here.

Is Now The Time For A War On Plastic?

On Wednesday, the international consumer advocacy group Consumer Choice Center released a policy paper detailing the war on plastic, federal and state efforts at mitigating plastic waste, and potential legislative steps to better protect our environment.

In Deconstructing The War On Plastic the authors evaluate the issue of plastic waste in the United States including that of single-use plastics and alternatives and examine if legislative efforts to curb plastic waste will ultimately better serve the environment.

“In our report we highlight how local or state bans on plastic products often come with high negative environmental externalities,” said co-author Yaël Ossowski. “These bans ultimately push consumers to high-impact alternatives, and don’t necessarily reduce the total amount of plastic used by consumers. Rather than trying to ban their way out of this problem, we propose that state and local governments better collaborate to expand advanced recycling,” said Ossowski, also deputy director at the Consumer Choice Center.

“At the federal level, the combination of the Break Free From Plastic Pollution Act and the CLEAN Future Act will make tackling plastic waste significantly more difficult. Both acts seek to put a moratorium on permits for advanced recycling facilities. This incredibly problematic because it hamstrings recycling efforts, which limits the nation’s ability to properly recycle plastic waste,” said co-author David Clement, North American Affairs Manager at CCC.

“Not only that, but the acts also seek to create a recycled content mandate for plastic products. Creating demand for recycled plastic, while at the same time limiting the capacity of plastic recycling facilities, is a recipe for disaster; specifically, one where demand for recycled plastic rapidly outpaces supply, which will drastically increase prices,” added Clement.

The authors propose a 4-step solution for the issue of plastic waste:

1) A ban on the export of plastic waste to countries that fail to meet environmental stewardship standards.

2) The expansion of advanced recycling and chemical depolymerization permits.

3) Embrace innovation and market solutions. There are a variety of new biodegradable plastics being brought to market, and those market solutions should be permitted to continue to develop.

4) Evaluate market mechanisms to price waste accordingly, so that externalities of mismanaged waste are not offloaded onto communities. We propose a full review of how the US can effectively price waste, in consultation with both consumers and producers.

Originally published here.

Europe Shouldn’t Follow Congress’ War on Plastic

Europe should steer clear of these heavy handed, and counterproductive initiatives…

At the Federal level in the United States, Congress has declared a war on plastics, specifically with the Break Free From Plastic Pollution Act and the CLEAN Future Act. Their goal is to ultimately reduce the amount of plastic waste that the US produces, which would in turn result in lower rates of mismanaged plastic ending up in the environment. On its face, the goals of congress are noble, but their policy prescriptions are incredibly misguided. It would be disastrous for Europeans if the EU followed America’s lead and replicated either of these Acts.

Replicating the CLEAN Future Act or the Break Free From Plastic Pollution Act would be a disaster for Europe for two main reasons.

The first is that Congress is attempting to enact a moratorium on permits for plastic manufacturing facilities. The purpose of this is to stop the expansion of this industry, which in theory protects the environment from the emissions associated with production. But this fails to recognize that there are legitimate and environmentally conscious reasons to choose plastic over competing products. Take, for example, the shipment of baby food. Baby food in plastic containers, as opposed to glass alternatives, generates 33% feweremissions because of the energy required in the production of plastic and its lighter weight in transportation. Although this is just one niche example, this same principle could be applied to a near-infinite number of plastics.

Beyond questions on sustainability and competing products, the moratorium reeks of regulatory capture. For those unfamiliar, regulatory capture is when new laws are passed that insulate an existing industry from future competition, allowing them to solidify its market share. The bill’s moratorium on plastic facilities shields the existing industry from competition, and ensures that more environmentally conscious competitors are kept out of the market entirely. This is important for both those who oppose cronyism and corporate welfare, and those who want better environmental policies, especially because there are new almost entirely biodegradable plastic products coming to market. Preventing permits for innovators benefits the existing industry at the expense of consumers and the environment.

On top of a moratorium on plastic manufacturing, the Acts also seek to implement a moratorium on advanced recycling permits and chemical depolymerization. Through chemical depolymerization, all plastic can be either recycled, repurposed, or converted. Chemical depolymerization is the process of breaking down plastics, altering their bonds, and repurposing them into other products. There are countless examples of why this technology is key to dealing with mismanaged plastics, with innovators turning problematic plastic into everything from resin pelletsroadwaystiles for your home, and high strength graphene. If the US wants to tackle plastic waste, the federal government can’t at the same time limit advanced recycling capacity. By capping recycling facilities, these bills prevent the scalability of recycling efforts, which creates a giant hurdle for dealing with plastic waste. The goal of legislation should be to make recycling more affordable, which is only possible through more competition. 

To make matters worse, these Acts also create a recycled content mandate. This type of mandate has its pros and cons, but it is disastrous if it is enforced alongside a permit cap on advanced recycling.

Creating a recycled content mandate will drastically increase, by decree, the demand for

recycled plastic. In fact, the BFFPP Act, if followed through with the CLEAN Future Act,

would mandate upwards of 25% recycled content in plastic bottles by 2025, and 80% by 2040.

The issue here is that these mandates will limit the capacity of advanced recyclers to meet that demand. If there is a significant uptick in the demand for recycled plastic, and advanced recycling is not allowed to scale up to meet demand, we could see a situation where demand rapidly outpaces supply, which will only serve to drive prices upwards. Those inflated costs will mostly be shouldered by consumers, who will have those costs passed on to them in the form of higher prices. This trend is exactly what was seen in other countries who passed bio-ethanol mandates, which had the negative effect of significantly increasing prices for the crops used in the creation of ethanol. 

Europe should steer clear of these heavy handed, and counterproductive initiatives. Rather than doubling down on restrictions, Europe should embrace innovation and advanced recycling, which both enhances consumer choice and protects the environment. 

Originally published here.

‘Break Free’ Bill Will Do More Harm Than Good to the Environment

Everyone knows that plastic waste is a problem, and America’s record on recycling isn’t great. Less than 9% of all plastic waste is recycled, which unfortunately means that the bulk of that waste is left to sit in landfills taking decades to decompose, or worse, dumped into the environment. Plastic waste is a serious problem, but two new pieces of legislation focus on harming plastic production, not addressing plastic waste.

The Break Free From Plastic Pollution Act has been reintroduced in the House and Senate, deals more with trying to end the production of plastics, not address plastic waste through recycling investments. Unfortunately, as written, the bill will do for more harm than good, both from a consumer perspective and for the environment. 

Break Free seeks to implement a moratorium on permits for all new plastic manufacturing. The purpose of this is to stop the expansion of this industry, which in theory protects the environment from the emissions associated with production. But this fails to recognize that there are legitimate, necessary and environmentally conscious reasons to choose plastic over competing products. Take, for example, the shipment of baby food. Baby food in plastic containers, as opposed to glass alternatives, generates 33% fewer emissions because of the energy required in the production of plastic and its lighter weight in transportation. Although this is just one niche example, this same principle could be applied to a near infinite number of plastic, especially in food packaging.

The recent Texas freeze, as reported by the Wall Street Journal, exposed significant gaps in the supply chain for plastics. As a result of plant closures in response to the freeze, major auto manufacturers were forced to halt production due to a lack of plastic parts, building companies faced record shortages for adhesives and siding, and PVC piping companies failed to meet their contractual obligations with buyers. A moratorium on new plants mandates that this vulnerable supply chain remain intact in its current and mismanaged state, removing any chance at correction.

Like Break Free, the recently introduced CLEAN Future Act includes not only a moratorium on new plastic production, but a moratorium on permits for advanced recycling facilities. Advanced recycling allows for all plastic, yes all plastic, to be either recycled, repurposed, or converted into other products. There are countless examples of why this technology is key to dealing with mismanaged plastics, with innovators turning problematic plastic into everything from resin pelletsroadwaystiles for your home, and high strength graphene. If the United States wants to tackle plastic waste, the federal government can’t, at the same time, limit advanced recycling capacity. By capping recycling facilities, the bill prevents the scalability of recycling efforts, which creates a giant hurdle for dealing with plastic waste. 

A cap on facilities plus a cap on advanced recycling is even more problematic when you consider that both pieces of legislation aim to create a recycled content standard, which will mandate that plastic products be made with a certain percentage of recycled plastic. This type of mandate has its pros and cons, but it is disastrous if it is enforced alongside permit caps that limit recycling.

Originally published here.

L’audace piano climatico di BIDEN non dovrebbe vietare la plastica

Riteniamo interessante riportare l’analisi che David Clement, del Consumer Choice Center per il Nord America, fa dei primi passi di Biden sul fronte della politica climatica e delle probabili decisioni sulla plastica.

Il presidente Biden ha subito riaffermato l’adesione degli Stati Uniti all’accordo di Parigi sul clima confermando le aspettative che vedono nella nuova amministrazione un deciso difensore dell’ambiente. Gli ambientalisti hanno applaudito le prime azioni del presidente, e stanno spingendo per fare di più. Greenpeace vuole che Biden dichiari guerra alla plastica e il comitato editoriale del Los Angeles Times ha sollecitato restrizioni sulla plastica monouso in tutte le future politiche.

È assai probabile che l’amministrazione Biden metterà la plastica nel mirino, ma ci si dovrebbe chiedere se i divieti sulla plastica sono, nel complesso, positivi per l’ambiente e il clima. Molte delle ricerche e delle esperienze di altri paesi ci indicano la direzione opposta. Quando la Danimarca ha preso in considerazione la messa al bando delle borse di plastica monouso per la spesa, le ricerche condotte hanno dimostrato che queste erano migliori rispetto alle alternative. I danesi sono arrivati a questa conclusione basandosi su 15 parametri ambientali, tra cui il cambiamento climatico, la tossicità, l’esaurimento dell’ozono, l’esaurimento delle risorse e l’impatto sugli ecosistemi. Hanno calcolato che i sacchetti di carta dovrebbero essere riutilizzati molte volte per avere lo stesso impatto totale di un sacchetto di plastica. Lo stesso vale per i sacchetti di cotone. Se l’ambiente è la nostra preoccupazione, vietare i sacchetti di plastica è un fatto negativo. 

Ricercatori svizzeri, esaminando i contenitori per alimenti destinati ai bambini, hanno concluso che l’uso della plastica rispetto al vetro ha ridotto le emissioni grazie al peso inferiore e ai costi di trasporto più bassi. Questa stessa metrica si applica anche a molto altro, dagli imballaggi alimentari ai beni di consumo quotidiani. Limitare la plastica spingerebbe senza dubbio i consumatori verso alternative ad alto impatto, andando così contro gli obiettivi di sostenibilità e riduzione dei rifiuti.

Questo non significa negare il serio problema dei rifiuti di plastica mal gestiti. Se Biden vuole agire per rimuovere i rifiuti di plastica dal nostro ambiente, dovrebbe considerare pratiche di riciclaggio innovative che si stanno dimostrando efficaci, come la depolimerizzazione chimica. Ci sono progetti innovativi in corso in tutto il Nord America guidati da scienziati e imprenditori, che partendo da semplici plastiche, alterano i loro legami chimici e le ripropongono in pellet di resina, piastrelle per la tua casa e persino asfalto stradale. Questo approccio permette all’innovazione di risolvere i rifiuti di plastica, crea posti di lavoro e lo fa con un impatto ambientale minimo.

Ma per coloro che riconoscono il potenziale di questa innovazione, rimane ancora il problema delle microplastiche, che spesso finiscono nelle nostre fonti d’acqua. Fortunatamente, gli scienziati hanno una risposta anche qui. Utilizzando l’ossidazione elettrolitica, i ricercatori sono riusciti ad “attaccare” le microplastiche, scomponendole in molecole di C02 e acqua, il tutto senza altre sostanze chimiche. L’amministrazione Biden potrebbe abbracciare la scienza che rende queste tecnologie scalabili e sostenibili.

Se il presidente Biden vuole ascoltare la chiamata alla difesa del clima, ha tutti gli strumenti a sua disposizione per farlo. Ma invece di approvare costosi e inefficaci divieti sulla plastica, dovremmo guardare agli innovatori e agli scienziati che stanno offrendo una terza via sui rifiuti di plastica. Questa sarebbe il vero endorsment della scienza per il 21° secolo.

Originally published here.

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