7 Dangerous Lies About Plastic
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Beyond turtles, 9 percent of base food chain fish (which represents as much as 50 percent of the biomass of fish in the entire ocean) sampled in the North Pacific have been shown to ingest plastics, and along with it a toxic soup of PAHs, flame retardants, DDE (a persistent form of the outlawed DDT) and PCBs. Concentrations of these chemicals in ocean-borne plastics have been shown to be up to a million times higher than the ambient sea water around it.
Bigger fish eat the fish that eat these toxic bombs and so do humans at the top of the food chain. All humans have levels of these toxins in their blood and men can't get rid of them. Women can only pass the chemicals through the umbilical chord and through breast milk, and thus, a higher and higher chemical burden in the human body will result from generation to generation.
Lie #4: It shouldn't be called "plastic pollution" but rather "marine debris."
What's the most common type of plastic found on the surface of the ocean? According to the Ocean Conservancy's annual report, 11 percent of beach litter is plastic bags. But what happens when a plastic bag enters the ocean? Plastic doesn't biodegrade in any meaningful timeframe, but it photo-degrades. Thin, flimsy plastic like HDPE with a lot of surface area (like the common bag from grocery stores) photo-degrades faster than thicker plastic. Ultraviolet rays from the sun break the polymer chains of hydrocarbon molecules into smaller pieces and what you end up with is small fragments. So, you might not find a plastic bag in the "garbage patch" but you surely will find the remnants of them. Plastic bags are of the class of plastics recyclers refer to as "blow trash" as they tend to be picked up by the wind and blown out to sea. They're huge offenders of plastic pollution as Americans consume more than 100 billion a year.
Keith Christman, managing director for plastics markets at the ACC, maintained that "marine debris" is a better phrase than "plastic pollution" for describing the trash in the ocean even though 90 percent of the contents of the gyres is plastic. Christman, understanding the negative implications of his product's association with the word "pollution," mentioned that it's not just plastic, but derelict fishing gear as well. All modern fishing gear is made of polypropylene, i.e. plastic. This is a sore spot for the ACC, and marine plastics research and education groups that receive funding from the ACC are typically "mandated" to refer to oceanic trash as marine debris to keep the burden of guilt from resting squarely on their shoulders.
Lie #5: "Plastic retail carry-out bags are 100-percent recyclable and made from clean natural gas."
This is a direct statement issued by the American Progressive Bag Alliance to the city of Dana Point, California in a letter regarding a proposed bag ban. That plastic bags are 100 percent recyclable isn't the issue; it's that by and large, they are not recycled. Plastic bag recycling is governed by supply and demand. People assume that if they place a bag in a recycling receptacle this means the bag will in fact be recycled. That's not necessarily true. In order to show (very) modest positive trending in recycling, industry lops all polyethylene (PE) films, wraps and bags all into one category. But for bags discretely, which are high-density polyethylene, the numbers are atrocious. In 2009, the rate for recycling is 6.1 percent; in 2010, the rate is 4.3 percent.
Thus one of the main targets legislatively, is plastic shopping bags. The biggest player in the bag market, Hilex Poly, has become a master of spin tactics to attempt to paint a rosy picture of its business. Hilex, the largest recycler in the US, writes posts on its Web site patting itself on the back for increased recycling rates claiming that PE rates are up from 2009 to 2010. What it fails to mention is the distinction between the different types of PE, and that EPA itself doesn't independently audit the recycling industry, it just compiles industry's reporting.