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Swiss have a better way to deal with plastic
Old 01-06-2019, 08:40 AM   #1
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Swiss have a better way to deal with plastic

A study by the Swiss reveals that collecting and recycling plastic is not a very good idea from an ecological point of view. The better solution is to recover the energy in it by burning it to create electric power.

While I'm not in agreement with draconian penalties for not properly disposing of plastic, I do find the article to be interesting in regards to simply burning used plastic for energy. That might require far less resources than sorting, processing and transporting it all over the world.

https://waste-management-world.com/a...tics-recycling

Quote:
Our study concludes that the collection of mixed plastic waste does generate a marginal ecological benefit at unreasonably high costs. But plastics recycling is not only inefficient, it is also quite ineffective. In Switzerland, the annual environmental benefit per capita would be equivalent to saving 30 kilometres of car driving or eating one barbecue-steak less.
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Plastics recycling is inefficient and ineffective
In Switzerland, most plastic waste is thermally utilized in municipal solid waste to energy incinerators and not physically recycled.
I do wonder how the cost burning plastic compares to cost of using natural gas to create electricity?
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Old 01-06-2019, 08:51 AM   #2
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The best way might be to avoid it all together. Most of us grew up when snack beverages were in cans or glass bottles. Heck, Gatoraid was in glass for a long time.

Glass and metal recycle well. But with cheap oil, plastic is just too easy to produce and consumers like it for being lightweight and active-friendly.
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Old 01-06-2019, 08:51 AM   #3
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I had heard that the UK has increasingly been burning plastic waste as countries like China have stopped importing it.

https://www.theguardian.com/environm...e_iOSApp_Other

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With rapid progress now being made on carbon capture, home and industrial-based pyrolysis (waste to energy), and other plastic-to-fuel processes, there is a strong case to stockpile plastic that is difficult to recycle or contaminated. In compacted or granulated form at 10% of its previous volume, it can be stored for future use as feedstock for negative emission energy production and other innovative uses. We used to have grain mountains and wine lakes. Why not temporary plastic mountains?
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Old 01-06-2019, 08:54 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by Alan View Post
I had heard that the UK has increasingly been burning plastic waste as countries like China have stopped importing it.

https://www.theguardian.com/environm...e_iOSApp_Other
With rapid progress now being made on carbon capture, home and industrial-based pyrolysis (waste to energy), and other plastic-to-fuel processes, there is a strong case to stockpile plastic that is difficult to recycle or contaminated. In compacted or granulated form at 10% of its previous volume, it can be stored for future use as feedstock for negative emission energy production and other innovative uses. We used to have grain mountains and wine lakes. Why not temporary plastic mountains?

you had wine lakes? Talk about burying the lede

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Old 01-06-2019, 08:56 AM   #5
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Glass and metal recycle well.
Yes, they do. And maybe we should. But, the counter argument is that glass and metal are much heavier than plastic thus using more resources to transport back and forth for recycling and reuse. I'm not sure how aluminum cans fit into that.
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Old 01-06-2019, 09:05 AM   #6
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Interesting. From an environmental view, I'd like to find out how burning plastic compares to burning other fuels like natural gas, coal, 'biomass'. I'd think that plastic would produce some nasty emissions, but maybe not in a high temperature furnace? Does the residual food, soap, etc on it need to be cleaned, or is it OK to burn it as is.

There will may be a public acceptance issue. Now, they run these cute commercials showing pop bottles being recycled into a park bench or something. Might be hard to make burning sound as attractive.

And isn't collection still an issue? I'd gladly separate plastic from other stuff like glass and paper if they asked, but I'm not sure how well that works overall.

But it's kind of interesting to think of a plastic bottle as fuel that spent part of its life as a container. Dual use. Is it a bottle, or a fuel - it's both!

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Old 01-06-2019, 09:14 AM   #7
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There's other alternatives.

https://hashmuseum.com/en/the-plant/...-based-plastic

Hemp plastic is the number one material of the future.*Door panels of certain series of BMW, Mercedes and Bugatti are manufacured using a hemp fibre basis.
Once the fibres have been removed from the hemp stems, what remains is 77% cellulose: the building blocks of trees and plants and a source of plastic that is biodegradable. Hemp grows prolifically, making it an extremely efficient crop for these sustainable plastics known as 'bioplastics'. They are lightweight, biodegradable and can replace many petrochemical plastics (oil-based plastics).
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Old 01-06-2019, 09:14 AM   #8
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...

you had wine lakes? Talk about burying the lead.

I wanna live in your world
That caught my eye too! A metaphor. From wiki:

Quote:
The wine lake refers to a perceived supply surplus of wine produced in the European Union around 2005–2007. A major contributor to that glut was reported to be the Languedoc-Roussillon, which was producing over one-third of the grapes grown in France. In 2007 it was reported that for the previous several vintages, European countries had been producing 1.7 billion more bottles of wine than they sold.[1] Hundreds of millions of bottles of wine had been turned into industrial alcohol every year, a practice that had sometimes been described as "emergency distillation".[2]
I do recall this at the time. I think they were burning some of the industrial alcohol distilled from the excess wine.

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Old 01-06-2019, 09:18 AM   #9
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Interesting. From an environmental view, I'd like to find out how burning plastic compares to burning other fuels like natural gas, coal, 'biomass'. I'd think that plastic would produce some nasty emissions, but maybe not in a high temperature furnace?

-ERD50
There was a big trash to energy push in the US about 40 years ago. Trash was burned in a stoker furnace with precipitators and scrubbers on the back end. Back then, plastics were the PROBLEM. Hydrochloric acid, from the plastics, caused massive corrosion and failures in many of these plants. I assume the technology and materials of construction have improved to make this less of an issue.
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Old 01-06-2019, 09:20 AM   #10
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There's other alternatives.

https://hashmuseum.com/en/the-plant/...-based-plastic

Hemp plastic is the number one material of the future.*Door panels of certain series of BMW, Mercedes and Bugatti are manufacured using a hemp fibre basis.
Once the fibres have been removed from the hemp stems, what remains is 77% cellulose: the building blocks of trees and plants and a source of plastic that is biodegradable. Hemp grows prolifically, making it an extremely efficient crop for these sustainable plastics known as 'bioplastics'. They are lightweight, biodegradable and can replace many petrochemical plastics (oil-based plastics).
Old news.

Plant fiber based car panels were used on what was one of the worst cars ever produced. One of my favorite lines was "Not even German Engineering could survive under Socialism!".

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trabant

Quote:
The Trabant had a steel unibody frame, with the roof, trunk lid, hood, fenders and doors made of duroplast, a hard plastic made from recycled cotton waste from the Soviet Union and phenol resins from the East German dye industry.[6][12] It was the second car with a body made of recycled material; the first was the AWZ P70 Zwickau, produced from 1955 to 1959.

Best known for its dull color scheme and cramped, uncomfortable ride, the Trabant is an object of ridicule for many Germans and is regarded as symbolic of the fall of the Eastern Bloc.[18] Known as a "spark plug with a roof" because of its small size, ...
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Old 01-06-2019, 09:27 AM   #11
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Yes, they do. And maybe we should. But, the counter argument is that glass and metal are much heavier than plastic thus using more resources to transport back and forth for recycling and reuse. I'm not sure how aluminum cans fit into that.
No doubt a concern is weight. The other concern with glass is breakability.

Still, recycles well.

Heck, anyone remember when all our soda was bottled in reusable bottles? One can argue about shipping weight, but to me that was nearly the ultimate in environmental responsibility.
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Old 01-06-2019, 09:38 AM   #12
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I recall a good Econtalk podcast a few year back that explained that from an economic standpoint, the only recycling that makes sense is aluminum. It's expensive and energy intensive to produce from ore, so you save a lot of money melting it down for reuse.

It you really care about carbon emissions, it seems to me that you should end all composing and collect as much paper, food, wood, and plastic trash that you can and bury it such that the carbon stays in the ground, not the atmosphere. (compact it tightly and seal it in with layers of clay)
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Old 01-06-2019, 09:48 AM   #13
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No doubt a concern is weight. The other concern with glass is breakability.

Still, recycles well.

Heck, anyone remember when all our soda was bottled in reusable bottles? One can argue about shipping weight, but to me that was nearly the ultimate in environmental responsibility.

I spent one summer at a distribution warehouse, primarily sorting returned bottles. Oh what fun!
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Old 01-06-2019, 10:00 AM   #14
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Old news.

Plant fiber based car panels were used on what was one of the worst cars ever produced. One of my favorite lines was "Not even German Engineering could survive under Socialism!".

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trabant



-ERD50
I'm sure hemp was the source of all the vehicles issues.
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Old 01-06-2019, 10:30 AM   #15
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The (latest) big problem with plastic is that countries are dumping it straight into the ocean as opposed to landfilling it, since it is cheaper to dump it into the ocean, and now huge regions of the ocean are full of it, ocean animals getting messed up by the big chunks of it, and small particles of plastic getting eaten by fish and then eaten by humans who eat the fish. I don't see what the big problem is with landfilling plastic. Leaching toxins into soil ? Takes up too much room? Burning it to create energy, with effective filtering of exhaust, byproducts, etc, sounds like it could be a classic 'win/win'.
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Old 01-06-2019, 10:49 AM   #16
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And isn't collection still an issue? I'd gladly separate plastic from other stuff like glass and paper if they asked, but I'm not sure how well that works overall.
People are asked to separate paper, cardboard, batteries, glass, PET bottles, organic waste, aluminum, etc...These materials have to be brought to collection centers to be recycled. Everything else (including plastic other than PET) is thrown away in the regular trash, which is picked up at the curb and incinerated. We have a similar system right across the border, in France.
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Swiss have a better way to deal with plastic
Old 01-06-2019, 12:46 PM   #17
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Swiss have a better way to deal with plastic

If one is to use hemp then we have to take into account the resources used to grow the hemp. How many acres of forest and grassland will be needed? What critters will be displaced and/or killed to grow it? What about fertilizer and herbicides? Fuels for the tractors harvesters and trucks to move it? What does processing it involve? All these factors, everything, needs to be accounted for to get a true picture. Then, how does this all compare to using petroleum and burning the bottles? I have no idea if it is a great idea or another feel good exercise.

Anybody for a plastic straw?
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Old 01-06-2019, 12:52 PM   #18
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Ocean garbage patches are formed by rotating ocean currents called "gyres" that pull marine debris (litter, fishing gear, and plastic) into one location, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The are several of these patches in the ocean, including two in the Pacific.
The one known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is located between Hawaii and California, and it's about double the size of Texas, or three times the size of France.
https://www.cnn.com/2018/12/18/us/oc...rnd/index.html
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Old 01-06-2019, 01:25 PM   #19
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One of my favorite movies of all time... Wall E. I often think I'm glad I'm old and don't have kids (no offense to those that do). But then I think, what if we're re incarnated? We get to come back to the mess we've created.

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Old 01-06-2019, 01:26 PM   #20
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you had wine lakes? Talk about burying the lede

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That caught my eye too! A metaphor. From wiki:

-ERD50
Dang, that sure busted my bubble.

I had visions of walking up to the edge of the lake and filling a few carafes of wine. Sigh.
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