Ocean Plastic Waste: A Problem Globally & Locally - What Can We Do?

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cedwardbaird
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Ocean Plastic Waste: A Problem Globally & Locally - What Can We Do?

Post by cedwardbaird »

Have you encountered plastic trash while diving either locally or in the tropics? Have you volunteered for an underwater or beach cleanup? Please share your experience and photos. Do you want to learn more about this global crisis? Here is a link to a very short video titled The Story of Plastic (Animated Short). This educational tool provides good insight into the major influences that cause ocean plastic pollution:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iO3SA4YyEYU

It takes only about 4 minutes to watch. Comments and questions are welcomed. Carl Baird
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YellowEye
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Re: Ocean Plastic Waste: A Problem Globally & Locally - What Can We Do?

Post by YellowEye »

Nice vid. I've seen some efforts at heavy duty containers for reuse/repair mentioned in the past but I haven't seen anything come out of that, have you?
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Re: Ocean Plastic Waste: A Problem Globally & Locally - What Can We Do?

Post by Tangfish »

YellowEye wrote:Nice vid. I've seen some efforts at heavy duty containers for reuse/repair mentioned in the past but I haven't seen anything come out of that, have you?
This brings to mind the reusable grocery store bags. I read somewhere that if we buy em and don’t use them more than (I think it was) around 50 times then it’s actually worse than using disposable bags.
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Re: Ocean Plastic Waste: A Problem Globally & Locally - What Can We Do?

Post by YellowEye »

Using a tote when everything in the tote is in plastic is not going to cut it. The ideal of the durable container is that all products would come in a reusable container.
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Re: Ocean Plastic Waste: A Problem Globally & Locally - What Can We Do?

Post by ScubaJess »

Thanks for all this info. Our poor oceans. We try to do a clean up dive every few months at Redondo.. it is crazy how much stuff we find down there. :eek:

I'm in Maui right now and this really cool restaurant called Moku Roots is all plastic free, they give you glass reusable containers for leftovers and glass jars for coffee. I wish more places would do this! Or people can just bring there own Tupperware from home for leftovers. We all need to help out as much as we can :)

I really wish they made golf balls out of fish food or some kind of biodegradable products... we always see so many down in the ocean... plastic should be outlawed!!! 🌊💖🖖 :luv:
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Re: Ocean Plastic Waste: A Problem Globally & Locally - What Can We Do?

Post by Tangfish »

YellowEye wrote:Using a tote when everything in the tote is in plastic is not going to cut it. The ideal of the durable container is that all products would come in a reusable container.
Oh, I get what you mean now… the container for the stuff from the store being reusable. I was thinking Tupperware at first.

Yes, that would be good, though difficult to put the infrastructure in place for it starting with the disposable world we live in. Would it not be more feasible to simply use our current one way/wasteful delivery system and switch to non-plastic, biodegradable packaging? I know they came out with some plant based stuff that looks like plastic but I’m not sure if that is really much better.

I agree, something’s got to give and we need reductions in plastic waste in leaps not tiny margins that barely move the needle.
cedwardbaird
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Re: Ocean Plastic Waste: A Problem Globally & Locally - What Can We Do?

Post by cedwardbaird »

Great photos of underwater cleanups! The smiles of participants speak volumes about the personal satisfaction derived from caring for the oceans that we love.
There are over 75 stores all around Washington that have bulk options or are full-on zero waste stores. Here is a link that identifies stores in 31 Washington cities where you can buy grocery items in bulk and avoid some of the plastic packaging that seems to be everywhere:

https://zerowastewashington.org/local-z ... te-stores/
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Re: Ocean Plastic Waste: A Problem Globally & Locally - What Can We Do?

Post by ScubaJess »

Awesome! Thanks will try to check some of them out :)
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Re: Ocean Plastic Waste: A Problem Globally & Locally - What Can We Do?

Post by cedwardbaird »

On May 17, 2021 Gov. Jay Inslee signed into law Senate Bill 5022. Phased in over several years, this new law will reduce plastic pollution and improve recycling in Washington State by (a.) banning certain Styrofoam products, (b.) requiring customers to ask for accessory plastic foodware for take-out food, and (c.) mandating post-consumer recycled content in plastic bottles and trash bags.

This ground-breaking legislation was championed by Senator Mona Das and Representative Liz Berry and facilitated by the members of the Plastic Free Washington Coalition. In our future economy, this bill will help coordinate the efforts of over 7.5 million people in Washington State to take a few small steps towards more responsible plastic consumption.

Here is a link to a post by the Department of Ecology that provides (a.) more details about the new law requirements and (b.) unpacks the timeline for increasing recycled content in plastic bottles and trash bags:

https://ecology.wa.gov/Waste-Toxics/Red ... ution-laws

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Re: Ocean Plastic Waste: A Problem Globally & Locally - What Can We Do?

Post by Tangfish »

“June 25, 2021: The state no longer requires plastic bottles or other rigid plastic containers to include the “chasing arrows” symbol around the plastic resin code.”

- so, does this mean more plastic types are going to be recyclable or what exactly is the benefit of this?

“2022: Require restaurants and food service businesses to only give customers disposable serviceware upon request, including plastic utensils, straws, condiment packages, and cup lids for cold beverages.”

- this is an absolute no brainer.
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Re: Ocean Plastic Waste: A Problem Globally & Locally - What Can We Do?

Post by cedwardbaird »

Myths & Truths about the “Chasing arrows triangle”:
Background, starting in 1992:

In 1992, WA State required resin code labeling for plastic bottles and containers. This labeling system was designed as a method for waste facilities to properly sort plastics.

The plastics industry was allowed to “frame” the required resin code numbers (1-7) inside a chasing arrows triangle which was borrowed from a 1970 symbol for recycled paper.

Over the years, the perceived meaning of the chasing arrow triangle has expanded from “made of recycled content” to “this product can be recycled.” For plastic products, both of these public perceptions have no basis in truth and are unfortunately urban myths.

The chasing arrows triangle (a.) is an unregulated symbol that anyone can use, (b.) does not mean that the plastic product is made from recycled materials, and (c.) does not mean that the product will get recycled if it is dropped into your recycle bin.

For the plastics industry, use of the chasing arrows triangle was a brilliant/deceptive campaign to keep plastic products in the market place. For the consumer, the symbol left the impression that the plastic product was actually being recycled and therefore more environmentally friendly. In other words, If the public thinks that recycling is working, then they are not going to be as concerned about the environmental impact of the plastic products they buy. Decades of guilt-free consumption by all of us has allowed the plastic pollution crisis to grow into a global pandemic.

Purpose for 2021 WA Senate Bill 5022 provision to not require the “chasing arrow” symbol around the plastic resin code:

Not requiring the “chasing arrows symbol” around the plastic resin code begins the process of reversing the unintended confusion in public perception about plastic recycling that has been going on before 1992. Not requiring the “chasing arrow symbol” is an easy first step that can be implemented quickly; no re-tooling of plastic molding equipment needed. A logical second step would be follow-up/strengthening legislation that would prohibit the use of the “chasing arrows” symbol to surround resin codes.

Below is a link to a 2020 PBS Frontline documentary (Plastic Wars) that illuminates the market strategies by the plastics industry:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-dk3NOEgX7o

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Re: Ocean Plastic Waste: A Problem Globally & Locally - What Can We Do?

Post by Tangfish »

Wow, today I learned the symbol is fairly meaningless!

However this does bring up a good point, the plastics industry liked/likes the symbol because of the confusion it caused for the general public, which means the general public’s behavior did alter to some extent due to the use of the symbol.

So what if, rather than introducing and now removing requirements for a confusing and somewhat meaningless symbol that anyone is able to use and abuse, why not introduce a symbol that actually means something which people can then use as a guide for their consumption and recycling habits?
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Re: Ocean Plastic Waste: A Problem Globally & Locally - What Can We Do?

Post by cedwardbaird »

Right now, there are about 25 other states that still require the chasing arrows symbol, and so we can’t immediately move to a new universal symbol until most of those are repealed (which is starting to happen). California is working on this topic and they may pass a bill that is more aggressive and then the dominoes will tumble even faster.
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Re: Ocean Plastic Waste: A Problem Globally & Locally - What Can We Do?

Post by ScubaJess »

Small amount of good news. I hope other big companies will follow :joshsmith: :partydance:

https://mymodernmet.com/lego-bricks-rec ... c-bottles/
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Re: Ocean Plastic Waste: A Problem Globally & Locally - What Can We Do?

Post by YellowEye »

Very cool about Lego!
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Re: Ocean Plastic Waste: A Problem Globally & Locally - What Can We Do?

Post by ScubaJess »

https://www.geekwire.com/2021/scientist ... nergy/amp/

This is also very fascinating news!!! 🤩
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Re: Ocean Plastic Waste: A Problem Globally & Locally - What Can We Do?

Post by cedwardbaird »

Although the news about chemical recycling of plastics into fuel may be interesting, I encourage caution when evaluating the benefits of this and similar approaches towards solving the plastic pollution crisis.

Here is a link to a to a 2:20 minute video that explains the main points about this caution:
https://www.no-burn.org/5things/

The myth of chemical recycling props up the “throw-away” economy and diverts attention away from the big changes needed for a true circular economy. The promise of chemical recycling seems to justify production of even more plastics by claiming that the some of the waste plastic can be chemically recycled.

Our society urgently needs to transition from an extractive-fossil fuel economy to a circular economy. More viable solutions are to be found in zero waste strategies which focus on reducing the production and consumption of plastics.

Reducing the demand for new plastics that are made from fresh (virgin) oil and gas that continues to be extracted from the earth is much more effective in keeping climate change within bounds. Very simply, there’s a vast amount of carbon in the ground that needs to stay there.
Here are some additional resources that describe the concerns about chemical recycling:

https://www.no-burn.org/chemical-recycling-resources/

The issues surrounding ocean plastic pollution are numerous, confusing, and complex. I don't claim to be an expert, but I am happy to share what I have been learning about the subject. Understanding these issues are critical to our future as citizens of our blue planet. Please keep this discussion thread going with your comments and questions.
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Re: Ocean Plastic Waste: A Problem Globally & Locally - What Can We Do?

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I agree... I just wish we could do both!!! Stop all new plastic. And find uses for all the old plastic so we can attack it from both sides 😊
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Re: Ocean Plastic Waste: A Problem Globally & Locally - What Can We Do?

Post by cedwardbaird »

I want to provide you some hope that “change” is starting to happen that will (a.) lessen the demand for production of new plastics from virgin oil and gas extraction and (b.) find new markets for single-use plastics that we now toss into our recycle bins.

In my June 22 post to this thread, I had mentioned that the Gov. Jay Inslee had signed into law Senate Bill 5022 on May 17, 2021. This progress in regaining control over several single-use plastic issues was the result of a lot of work by insightful/bold legislators and the many partners of the Plastic Free Washington Coalition.

In three successive posts to this thread, I will attempt to unpack this new law and explain how it provides progress towards (a.) lessening the demand for new plastics and (b.) increasing the recycling of single-use plastics.

Question: Have you ever automatically received plastic straws, plastic forks & knives & spoons, condiments in plastic packages, and lids for your cold beverages in your orders from food service businesses, without being asked if you actually wanted them?

Can you imagine how many times this same scenario is occurring for the 7.5 million residents of WA State as they receive their orders? The current practice represents a huge amount of single-use plastic items that may not even get used at all, but ends up being tossed into the garbage can. Beginning January 1, 2022 food service businesses will be required to only provide these disposable serviceware items if explicitly requested by the customer or provide these optional items in self-service bins. This is the “Ask First” provision of Senate Bill 5022. Starting in January 2022, WA State should start experiencing less demand for these single-use plastic items that are made from virgin oil and gas and decrease some of the single-use plastics that are dumped in landfills.

Do you remember the familiar 3-R’s of waste management (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle)? The fourth R is “refuse”. This provision of the new law codifies our right to refuse unnecessary plastic from food services.

There are a number of reasonable exemptions from this “Ask First” provision of the new WA law. The following institutions are exempt: health care facilities, long-term health care facilities, senior nutrition programs, developmental disability programs, and State hospitals. Lids for hot beverages will always be provided without customer request. All beverages will be served with lids for delivery services, curbside pickups, drive thru services, and large sports and music event, 5000+ attendees.

Here is link to a graphic from Zero Waste Washington that explains the new law with picture examples:

https://zerowastewashington.org/wp-cont ... 8-2021.pdf

Questions?, Comments?

My next post will be about the provision of the new law that bans certain expanded polystyrene (Styrofoam) products.

Later on, I will post about the provision of the new that requires post-consumer recycled plastic content for new beverage bottles, jugs/bottles for cleaning and personal care products, and trash bags.
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Re: Ocean Plastic Waste: A Problem Globally & Locally - What Can We Do?

Post by cedwardbaird »

In my last post (July 13) I provided information about the “Ask First” provision of new WA State law (ref. SB 5022) that will take effect in January 2022 to lessen unnecessary plastics from food services. Now I want to describe the provision of this same new law that bans certain expanded polystyrene products (aka Styrofoam) throughout all of WA State. Styrofoam is being banned around the world because it (a.) is harmful to both environmental and human health, (b.) ends up contaminating useful materials that could otherwise be recycled and (c.) is a common contaminant of compost.

Question: Is Styrofoam recyclable?

Styrofoam is recyclable but it has to be absolutely clean. Food service packaging, like clam shells that are coated with Teriyaki sauce cannot be recycled. Only the clean, ridge blocks of Styrofoam that are used for shipping can be recycled. Unfortunately, there is not much of a collection network to get clean materials to the few Styrofoam recycles in our state. Consequently, even the very clean Styrofoam goes into the garbage bin, not the recycle bin. Styro Cycle in Kent, WA recycles Styrofoam, but has a very limited collection network. Sometimes local groups sponsor Styrofoam collection events and then self-haul clean material down to Styro Cycle for processing.

The first phase of the ban will target Styrofoam void-filling packing materials. We know these as Styrofoam peanuts. After June 1, 2023, the sale, manufacture, and distribution of Styrofoam peanuts will be prohibited in WA State.

The second phase of the ban will target Styrofoam food service products and Styrofoam coolers. After June, 1, 2024, the sale, manufacture, and distribution of (a.) Styrofoam clam- shells containers, plates, cups, and bowls will be prohibited in WA State, along with (b.) Styrofoam coolers.

This will mean that hundreds of food services and retailers that serve the 7.5 million people in our state will be helping all of us reduce the demand for extracting virgin oil and gas from the earth and reduce the production of plastic products that cannot be recycled, and often become contaminants in other viable recycling processes.

As with other provisions of this new law there are a few important exemptions. Exempt are pre-packaged items, and packaging for raw, uncooked, or butchered meat, fish, poultry, or seafood, vegetables, fruit, or egg cartons, as well as coolers for medical items or shipping perishable commodities.

Here again is that link to a graphic from Zero Waste Washington that explains the new law with picture examples:

https://zerowastewashington.org/wp-cont ... 8-2021.pdf

Questions?, Comments?

My next post will be about the provision of the new that requires post-consumer recycled plastic content for new beverage bottles, jugs/bottles for cleaning and personal care products, and trash bags.
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Re: Ocean Plastic Waste: A Problem Globally & Locally - What Can We Do?

Post by cedwardbaird »

In my July 13 and July 26 posts, I described how Washington State’s new law will cut down on unnecessary consumer plastics. Now, I want to describe the provision of this new law that will help increase the rate of plastics recycling in our state.

Background:

Up to this point in time, only 9% of the world’s production of 9 billion tons of plastics have been recycled. Here in Washington State, we do a bit better in recycling plastics…about 16%. However, countries in the European Union, Canada, and Australia recycle plastics at a rate ranging about 40-60%.

Currently, many recyclable plastic products are not being collected by local governments because there is no market demand for the materials. We need to “jump-start” the market for recyclable commodities in order to increase the value of recycled content, as compared to cheap virgin minerals (oil & gas) that need to stay in the ground.

When Governor Jay Inslee signed SB 5022 into law on May 17, it also established minimum post-consumer recycled content requirements for plastic beverage containers, household cleaning and personal care products containers, and trash bags. All this will help increase the value of recycled plastics and help change our state from a linear economy (i.e., take-make-dispose) to a more circular economy (take-make-recycle/remake).

Take = extract minerals from the earth
Make = manufacture products
Dispose = landfilling (burying)
Recycle/remake = collect recyclables and remake new products

!!! A more circular economy will help end the practice of landfilling (burying) very valuable and finite resources for an eternity.

I will now “unpack” what the new law requires for:
a. Plastic beverage containers
b. Plastic containers for dairy milk and small plastic bottles for wine
c. Plastic containers for household cleaning and personal care products
d. Plastic trash bags

For easy reference here again is that graphic from Zero Waste Washington that explains the provisions of SB 5022 with the help of pictures:

https://zerowastewashington.org/wp-cont ... 8-2021.pdf

A. Plastic beverage containers:

First, let’s take a look at all those single-use “plastic beverage containers” that we consume by the millions. According to this new law, “plastic beverage containers” do not include (a.) durable, refillable containers like your commuter mugs and refillable water bottles, (b.) medical devices, medical products, non-prescription and prescription drugs, and dietary supplements, (c.) bladders for wine, and (d.) liners, caps, corks, closures, and labels.

Starting in 2023, producers who sell or distribute plastic beverage containers (other than for dairy milk and wine in 187 ml. bottles) in Washington State must meet minimum post-consumer recycled content (by weight) for containers up to one gallon, according to the following schedule:

15% by January 1, 2023
25% by January 1, 2026
50% by January 1, 2031

FYI: Even before SB 5022 was signed into law, Nestle’, PepsiCo, Evian, Coca Cola, and Naked brands had already pledged to provide recycled content in their plastic beverage containers. Today, if you pick up a plastic bottle of Naked brand beverage, the label says that their bottle is made from 100% recycled content.

B. Plastic containers for dairy milk and small plastic bottles for wine:

Secondly, we will look at plastic containers for dairy milk and 187 ml plastic bottles for wine. You may have seen these 187 ml. bottles on airlines and in food stores. For these types of plastic beverage containers, there is a five-year extension for producers to meet post-consumer recycled content. Starting 2028, producers who sell and distribute (a.) plastic milk containers (up to one gallon) and (b.) 187 ml plastic containers for wine in Washington State must meet minimum post-consumer recycled content (by weight) according the following schedule:

15% by January 1, 2028
25% by January 1, 2031
50% by January 1, 2036

C. Plastic containers for household cleaning and personal care products:

Thirdly, we will look at plastic containers for household cleaning and personal care products. Exemptions include refillable household cleaning and personal care containers and rigid plastic containers or plastic bottles that are for medical use. Starting 2025, producers who sell and distribute plastic containers (up to five gallons) for household cleaning and personal care products in Washington State must meet minimum post-consumer recycled content (by weight) according to the following schedule:

15% by January 1, 2025
25% by January 1, 2028
50% by January 1, 2031

D. Plastic trash bags:

Lastly, we will look at plastic trash bags. Starting 2023, producers who sell and distribute plastic trash bags in Washington State must meet minimum post-consumer recycled content (by weight) according to the following schedule:

10% by January 1, 2023
15% by January 1, 2025
20% by January 1, 2027

Below is a link to a Department of Ecology document that provides an easy-to-read chart that maps out when these various plastic container products must meet their required recycled content targets. When you open this link, look for the line that says “Timeline for recycled content”, then click the “+” sign to the right.

https://ecology.wa.gov/Waste-Toxics/Red ... ution-laws

It will take some time unravel several decades of “guilt-free consumption” of plastic products that is now threatening to permanently change the nature of the world. If you don’t know what I mean by “guilt-free consumption”, I could unpack the history of that topic also.

SB 5022 will help reduce the use of unnecessary plastics, restore our recycling system, and create jobs in Washington State. Stay tuned, the Plastic Free Washington Coalition and the Washington State Legislature will be introducing more needed changes in 2022 to help make trash obsolete.

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