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Thread: Could you live without plastic?

  1. Top | #71
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    Quote Originally Posted by Koyaanisqatsi View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by ralfy View Post
    one will have to realize that the question won't be whether or not one can live without plastic but when.
    So you, once again, agree with me that we need to get rid of what we can get rid of and work to find alternatives and/or better approaches to what we can't?

    Or are you, as I suspect, thinly veiling an argument to maintain the status quo, based on the "it's too late, so fuck it, just throw away the razors and keep using all the plastic bags you want" approach?

    It's a simple question and not answerable with "it's moot," or the like, because it goes to your intent.
    So you, once again, agree with me that we need to get rid of what we can get rid of and work to find alternatives and/or better approaches to what we can't?
    Only insofar as that can be folded into the all encompassing mandate of profit margin growth to infinity for the substantial people, which is kinda how we got "here", isn't it.

  2. Top | #72
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    I can't based on the fact that some of my favorite products come in plastic even though that's a shame. Emergencee, whey protein, water bottles.... etc

    It's bad I know and I wish they'd change their packaging to something more environmentally friendly, but it is literally something I need to have with me everyday !
    BUT FIRST.... coffee

    ~ www.personalstacks.com ~

  3. Top | #73
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    Quote Originally Posted by nolongtalk View Post
    I can't based on the fact that some of my favorite products come in plastic even though that's a shame. Emergencee, whey protein, water bottles.... etc

    It's bad I know and I wish they'd change their packaging to something more environmentally friendly, but it is literally something I need to have with me everyday !
    I can't either and that was actually the point of my thread. Hindsight is always 20/20. Nobody knew what havoc our usage of plastics would have on the world. The problem is that old habits are very hard to break. Imo, government and industry would be needed if we are ever going to decrease our usage of single use plastics.

    I'm old enough to remember when berries came in little cardboard containers, but now even berries come in plastic containers. My husband and I were discussing how mild and soft drinks were only available in glass when were were kids. You took the glass bottles back to the store when they were empty. Even milk came in glass containers and the milkman who delivered the milk to your doorstep, would pick up the empty bottles so they could be reused. Humans very rarely know how their habits will impact the world many years down the line.

    There are some good things that can be done with recycled plastics, but this isn't being done in many places. There is even a manufacturing plant in my small city that makes plastics. How does that get changed. How do you get manufacturers to use biodegradable containers etc.? There is a type of plastic that breaks down but it's not being widely used.

  4. Top | #74
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    I cannot agree with the anti-plastic sentiments that some people have asserted.

    Plastic wrapping for food is a good way to keep it sanitary. Clear plastic wrapping is also good for revealing what the food item is.

    I agree that if one wants to avoid making lots of garbage, one should indeed try to do so, and that there are ways to do so. Like have one's own metal straws. Banning straws is silly. Making them optional is much better.


    Currently, most plastic is made from crude oil. But there is an alternative: synthetic-fuel technology. Its biggest success in recent years is synthetic motor oil. Though it is more expensive than crude-oil motor oil, it often performs much better. Its success is due to its economics: one doesn't need much of it, and its superior performance.

    Here is how to make synfuels. One starts by making hydrogen. It is currently done by mixing natural gas and water and heating them with catalysts. One gets hydrogen, carbon monoxide, and carbon dioxide. But renewable energy has the problem that most forms of it are most conveniently delivered as electricity. This covers the whole spectrum: hydroelectric, tides, waves, wind, photovoltaic, concentrated solar, geothermal, ...

    The only exception that I know of is concentrated solar energy for industrial process heat, and that is still experimental.

    But there is a way to make synfuels with electricity. Electrolysis.

    2H2O + electricity -> 2H2 + O2

    Hydrogen is rather difficult to store and transport, so George Bush II's "hydrogen economy" is a non-starter.

    An alternative is ammonia, and it can also be made by electrolysis:

    6H2O + 2N2 -> 4NH3 + 3O2

    Ammonia is currently made industrially with the Haber-Bosch process:

    3H2 + N2 -> 2NH3

    One can then half-burn it to make nitric acid: NH3 + 2O2 -> H2O + HNO3

    Combining ammonia and nitric acid gives ammonium nitrate, a common kind of fertilizer. So one can make nitrogen fertilizer with renewable energy.

  5. Top | #75
    Administrator lpetrich's Avatar
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    Once one gets one's hydrogen, the next step is the Fischer-Tropsch reaction.

    CO2, H2 -> H2O, CxHy, CxHyOz

    One can make hydrocarbons, like gasoline or diesel-fuel ones, and also oxyhydrocarbons, like methanol.

    The CO2 one can get from the air, making this process carbon-neutral.

    Thus, one gets synfuel power-to-gas and power-to-liquids.

    One not only gets synfuels, but also plastics feedstocks. Thus, one can have petrochemical plastics made with all renewable energy.

  6. Top | #76
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    I agree with what you've posted, Loren, even if I don't understand all of the chemistry behind the process. I have read that biodegradable plastics are being manufactured on a very small basis. I just hope that the biodegradable plastics will replace the type of plastics that we currently use. It will take a big effort from government and industry to make this change. That's the problem imo.

    And, there are things that can be made from recycled plastics, like the plastic bricks that are being used in parts of Africa to replace older school building that are falling apart. The plastic brick schools are sturdier and cooler, compared to the older buildings that were mad of mud. So, maybe there is hope.

  7. Top | #77
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    An interesting partnership from Ford and McDonald's;

    Ford is making headlamp housings that use discarded coffee chaff from McDonald’s. Coffee chaff, the husk of the bean that comes off during roasting, usually gets turned into garden mulch or charcoal — or thrown away. When heated and mixed with plastic and other additives, coffee chaff can be formed into pellets and then various other shapes. Ford is planning to use a chaff composite for interior car components and under the hood. As a result, the car parts will be 20% lighter — better for fuel efficiency — and provide the company with up to 25% energy savings during the molding of the parts. The first auto component to be produced using the chaff will be headlamp housings.
    CNN

    There isn't any detail about the process or development of this technology but I thought I heard on the radio it was developed in Canada. What's that all aboot, eh ?

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