For anyone who was watching last night’s 60 minutes segment about waste or watched the ABC series about the War on Waste or seen the whale coughing up 6 kilos of garbage. You’ll notice, we have a bit of a problem. More specifically, we have an issue with recycled plastics… well, not recycled plastics.
Why are plastics so bad?
Plastics are good for a lot of things; we live our lives surrounded by stuff made of plastic, like water bottles, laptops, and shampoo containers just to name a few. The issue here is that we are making so much stuff – and throwing so much of it away - that we are creating more waste than can be handled. Let alone handled properly (i.e. recycled). The result is having a lot of waste which – being plastic - does not breakdown. Well… it does, after 1000 years. This is why plastics are bad. Let’s look at what happens to the plastic waste cycle.
Human buys something, disposes of it, some of it goes to a recycling centre and is re-purposed to be used as another product. The rest goes to landfill or into the ocean. The oceans currents move large pieces of plastic around and after enough time the piece of plastic becomes brittle and tiny. Still not decomposed but almost impossible to collect. Fish eat those little pieces and we eat those fish. Congratulations, you’re eating garbage.
Now that is a bit dramatic, and… it should be, maybe you’ll remember the message that way. The message being: make less waste.
In Victoria, we produce a disproportionate amount of waste per capita. I can see why, we are a first world, a wealthy state in one of the best countries in the world which needs for very little. Why worry when you know the garbage truck is going to take everything away... And there’s nothing wrong with that, as far as we are aware, we are doing the right thing. Unfortunately, this isn’t being followed through, hence the 60 minutes story.
I’m not going to recap the whole story (you can just watch it for yourself). The point of today’s post is to re-emphasize the awareness around waste and give you some additional resources to check out; here are some links I think are useful.
- Here’s the link to the 60 minutes story
- The link to War on Waste series
- The link to a whale full of waste
- A Vice video about ocean waste
- A look at clean incineration
- An interactive waste map for Victoria
- Here’s a video explaining things about waste and China
- Here's a good example of what you can do with trash
Look this isn't some fantasy, we aren’t going to stop using plastics for some extremist and nonsense solution based on stupidity or sensationalism. Plastics have a genuine use and purpose. But what we can do is keep talking about the issue and we can keep doing the little things which - combined with the right conversation - can make changes happen.
This post is based on something I wrote for the LMN back in June 2018 when we were in the process of organizing an ideathon to tackle waste and last mile delivery. The winning team was a waste solution wanted to teach kids about the importance of recycling.