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Juan Mandujano
Pam Schuman, Professor
April 24, 2014
Trends in Plastic
Tree huggers is what I called people when they cared so much about the environment,
and now that Im older I seem to have opened my eyes. The irony is I have come to hate waste
plastic waste in particular, and to hate the fact that every day we as human beings seem to be
shooting ourselves in the foot. So, the same way I changed my outlook on plastic waste is
what I will be trying to accomplish today with all of you. I recently did a poll asking people a
couple of questions regarding plastic waste. I did notice that 100 percent of the participants
acknowledged that littering is bad, but 90 percent of the participants still did it. Why? Which
brings me to this, why doesnt our government become stricter about littering and recycling,
like bringing out some new laws/policies that will help reduce the amount of plastic waste that
is being disposed and/or increase the amount we recycle.
Plastic bags, we all see them and use them every day, but why are they being banned
from some countries and states? Because bags are doing more harm than good! "They are a
waste of resources in that we use them once and throw them away, and there is absolutely no
reason to have this one-usage approach to bags," says Claire Wilton, senior waste campaigner
for Friends of the Earth in London. Globally, we carry home between 500 billion and a trillion
every year. That is 150 bags a year for every person on Earth, or, to put it another way, a million
a minute and rising. Now, imagine how many of those bags are being throw to the street or just
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simply flying off the trash trucks. All those bags falling in to the streets and in to the sewer are
ending up in our oceans where millions of marine animals live. Richard Thompson from the
University of Plymouth in the UK, who led the study of plastic bags on marine life, says: "My
feeling is that plastic bags will almost certainly contribute to the micro plastics we're finding."
Its been said that even if the plastic bag is banned that another material would just replace it,
and we would be back at square one.
Were you aware that plastic Sippy cups have been tested, and reported that positive
estrogen activity has been found in the material. Researchers have even found estrogen activity
on containers stating BPA-Free plastics. This is extremely frightening, since Estrogen can
increase the chance of a stroke or breast cancer, and can even alter bone growth to brain
development. George Bittner coauthored a paper in the NIH Journal Environmental Health
Perspectives stating almost all commercially available plastics that were tested leached
synthetic estrogens even when they weren't exposed to conditions known to unlock potentially
harmful chemicals, such as the heat of a microwave, the steam of a dishwasher, or the sun's
ultraviolet rays.. This is not only pointed towards Sippy cups, but also, food containers,
blenders, and other plastic ware that is found in a house hold. The fight with the manufactures
of these products is the same as with the manufactures of tobacco as they try to hide the
scientific evidence of the dangers the products can cause. Again, some of these plastics end up
in our landfills and are then exposed to wildlife. Would you want your family members drinking
or eating out of plastic containers that can potentially harm you?
Why do we keep throwing away plastics? Considering that plastics have toxic chemicals
in them when not exposed, imagine how toxic they get when they are in contact with other
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chemicals or certain weather that exposes them. All that plastic waste you throw in the trash or
on that street corner is not just going to dissolve, and go away. It will either end up being
incinerated, sent to landfills, or worse end up in our oceans. Plastics will make their way down
the sewers, and to the oceans. Researchers have found that plastics gather up on shore or in
The Great Pacific Garbage Patch. The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is a large amount of
accumulating waste, and 80 percent of it being plastic debris. Now, plastic doesnt just dissolve
it has quite a lengthy life span that can surpass a decade. Fish and other marine life are eating
these broken down particles of plastic, and then we eat the fish. So, its like a cycle that just
ends up back to us the human beings. Why would we be using more of our resources to make
more plastic when most of the plastic waste is recyclable. Plastic is a lot harder to recycle unlike
other materials, but plastic is also really valuable. In 2012, the US itself produced about 32
million tons of plastic. Mike Biddle from the short video We Can Recycle Plastic said Plastics
are a whole other story: well less than 10 percent are recovered. In fact, it's more like five
percent. Meaning it doesnt really get recycled it usually ends up in other countries. Mikes
facility actually separates the types of plastic for you, then it separates them by color, and
finally it shreds up the plastic in to rubbery like balls that can then be sold to manufacture. In
result, we dont use nearly the same amount of resources to make the same product. Yeah, it
might be a bit pricey, but we will be saving the environment, our generation, and our resources.
So, why dont we have this in place already?
Europes waste management policies are in place to reduce the environment and health
impacts of waste, but also improve their resource efficiency. Europe has learned from their
mistake when in 1999 when a batch of animal food was contaminated with waste industrial oil
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containing harmful chemicals. The animals were feed this batch and they produced eggs, milk,
and meat that all had high levels of toxin. The animals had to be slaughtered, and the
businesses suffered severely. Not to mention the people that got sick when eating some of
these products. The Directive introduced a five-step waste hierarchy where prevention is the
best option, followed by re-use, recycling and other forms of recovery, with disposal such as
landfills as the last resort. The European Commission wrote in a Waste Management brochure.
Europe is thinking ahead of the game. They know that from this point on population is going to
grow resulting in more waste.
In 2012, the United States disposed 12.7 percent of all plastics, and only 3.2 percent of
the plastic was recycled. Plastic is the second most generated material, right behind the leading
material paper and cardboard. It is also the lowest recycled product material in the US, since
there are so many types of plastic. We as people need to change the way we view this issue.
We need to address it and address it correctly. By making the right changes like making new
policies that can help us manage the waste or new facilities that can help us efficiently recycle
plastics we can make a difference, and set up our next generation for success. All the issues
that were stated above have solutions, but they cant be addressed without cooperation from
you and our government. We need our government to get more involved make some changes,
and set some new expectations for our people of the United States. So, we get a couple of new
policies and laws, but we aim to save our environment, reduce the amount of waste not
recycled, and efficiently use our resources. I hope that by now I have at least got your guys to
open your eyes just a bit, maybe just enough to at least contribute to going green. Thank you

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Works Cited
Mandujano, Juan. Questionnaire Tue 22 Apr 2014
Are Any Plastics Safe? 39.2 (2014). Academic Search Complete. Web. 29 Apr. 2014.
Biddle, Mike. We Can Recycle Plastic. Ted. Ted Global, Web. 29 Jul. 2011.
Blomberg, Lindsey. "The Great Pacific Garbage Patch." Great Pacific Garbage Patch 22.3
(2011): 8. Academic Search Complete. Web. 29 Apr. 2014.
European Commission, Web. 29 Apr. 2014.
Magaziner, Lauren. "Plastic Bags: Convenient and Cruel. 62.8 (2014): 20-21. Print.
United States Enviormental Protections Agency. United States Environmental Protections
Agency, Web. 29 Apr. 2014.
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Web. 29 Apr. Williams, Caroline. "Battle of the Bag."
183.2464 (2004): 30-33. Print.