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  • PTF: Manufacturing | Ecology Center
    monomer is a single molecule like ethylene that can be bound with other molecules into a polymer The new polymer is extruded pelletized or flaked the product is called a resin Resin is sold re extruded and made into containers films and other products Energy use compared PET plastic vs virgin and recycled glass Since resin manufacturing consumes so much energy making containers with plastic requires almost the same energy input as making containers with glass despite transportation savings that stem from plastic s light weight The total energy required to produce package and transport a 16 oz PET container is 32 MJ compared to 34 MJ for a 16 oz glass container virtually the same Producing a pound of plastic resin however uses nearly nine times the energy of producing a pound of glass These comparisons assume the use of virgin glass If the glass container uses recycled glass cullet in its feedstock the energy required to produce it falls to less than 26 MJ for a 16 ounce glass container That is 6 MJ less than what is needed for a new PET container Making the glass container with recycled cullet uses only 81 of the energy needed to make a plastic container Size of the virgin resin market In 1995 about 32 million tons of plastic resin were produced in the US about 39 of this amount or 12 6 million tons was used for packaging Only six resin types were used to make more than 92 of plastic packages Their names and common uses are shown in the following table Table 1 Plastic Packaging Resin Market Share Uses Chemical name Abbr Resin code 1995 production million lbs 1995 million tons of plastic packaging Typical products polyethylene terephthalate PET 1 3 920 1 96 15 6 soda and water bottles high density polyethylene HPDE 2 5 410 2 71 21 5 milk and water jugs laundry detergent bottles polyvinyl chloride PVC 3 520 26 2 1 meat wrap linear low den sity polyethylene LLDPE LDPE 4 7 030 3 52 27 9 grocery and trash bags polypropylene PP 5 1 610 81 6 4 rigid containers polystyrene PS 6 4 620 2 31 18 3 fast food containers meat and bakery trays Total 23 110 11 56 91 7 A number 7 on a plastic container indicates other which typically means a combination of two or more of the six main resin types The use of plastics is increasing in almost all sectors of the economy but the most rapid growth is in packaging Globally improved economic conditions tend to promote increased consumption and a corresponding increase in packaging Analysts predict steady increases in the sales of most packaging plastics particularly PET for the foreseeable future The advertisement of recyclability may contribute to increases in plastic packaging sales Modern Plastics International s January 1995 resin report explained that double digit growth rates in PET consumption were due in part to PET s perceived environmental benefit in regards

    Original URL path: http://ecologycenter.org/plastics/ptf/report1/ (2016-04-30)
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  • PTF: MISCONCEPTIONS | Ecology Center
    Paul Minnesota revealed that 7 out of 10 people believed the symbol means recyclable Many even believe the symbol indicates the container is composed of recycled material Actually the only information in the symbol is the number inside the arrows which indicates the general class of resin used to make the container The plastics industry adopted this symbol in 1988 to identify the resins when state legislatures were discussing bans on plastic containers But the plastics industry says it never intended the chasing arrows to indicate recyclability or identify recycled content but only to be a catchy graphic to point out the number inside that identifies the type of resin The symbol is misleading nevertheless the plastics industry has resisted consumers efforts to modify it The attorneys general of 11 states also objected to false and misleading claims about plastic recyclability The recent settlement that they reached with the American Plastics Council paves the way for a first ever definition of what claims can or cannot be made about plastic recycling and recyclability Misconception 4 Packaging resins are made from petroleum refineries waste Plastic resins are made from non renewable natural resources that could be used for a variety of other applications or conserved Some people believe that the raw materials for packaging plastics come from an otherwise useless industrial waste stream They believe that if these plastics were not made the raw materials would be dumped into the environment as a hazardous waste But actually most packaging plastics are made from the same natural gas used in homes to heat water and cook Misconception 5 Plastics recyclers pay to promote plastics recyclability No virgin resin producers pay for the bulk of these ads Billboards that claim plastic is recyclable and beseech consumers to get involved imply that plastic recycling is an established industry impatiently awaiting consumer participation In fact most such ads are placed by virgin plastic manufacturers whose goal is to promote plastic sales These advertisements are aimed at removing or diminishing virgin plastic s greatest challenge to market expansion negative public conception of plastic as unrecyclable environmentally harmful and a major component of wastes that must be landfilled or burned Misconception 6 Using plastic containers conserves energy When the equation includes the energy used to synthesize the plastic resin making plastic containers uses as much energy as making glass containers from virgin materials and much more than making glass containers from recycled materials Using refillables is most energy conservative Energy use studies that compare various packaging materials often do not account for the large amount of energy required to synthesize plastic resin Most of the energy and environmental costs of plastics are hidden because they are incurred in the plastic factory Also life cycle assessments often assume containers will be used only once The practices of refilling and reuse especially if carried out on the local level have the greatest potential for reducing energy consumption no matter what material is used to make the containers Misconception 7

    Original URL path: http://ecologycenter.org/plastics/ptf/report9/ (2016-04-30)
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  • PTF: OTHER APPROACHES | Ecology Center
    PET containers at curbside The manager of the collection program estimates that 1 4 to 1 3 of all the plastics collected are incompatible or unrecyclable and must be sent to a landfill Plastics collected at curbside are less contaminated than the plastics collected at the dropoff facility because the El Cerrito collection crews are trained to hand sort the materials that residents set out and they leave the unrecyclable plastics in the collection bins The recycling program director indicated that a major problem is the confusion caused by the chasing arrows symbol as discussed earlier Since the symbol appears on so many things it causes the public to think that all plastics are recyclable Sonoma County California Sonoma County cut waste at its landfills by 39 from 1989 to 1995 despite rapid population growth Little of this change had to do with increased curbside program participation Instead consumers purchased less and therefore threw away less disposable packaging Shoppers who avoided elaborately wrapped goods not only reduced waste but sent a message to retailers that overpackaged goods were not acceptable Germany Germany s Green Dot program illustrates the polluter pays principle The Green Dot program requires industries to take back reuse or recycle packaging materials including plastics Companies that do so are permitted to display the ecomark Green Dot on their product The program was implemented by national ordinance in 1993 and by early 1994 several changes had occurred Packaging consumption had been reduced by 4 the proportion of beverages sold in refillable containers had increased reusable and recyclable shipping containers had been developed and many other product packages had been eliminated or were made easier to recycle One of the provisions in the legislation was that stores were required to provide bins for customers to use for discarded packaging This requirement led retailers to pressure suppliers to reduce these materials The German program is not without its problems Since the main drive of the program was to preserve shrinking landfill capacity closing the materials flow loop was not imperative As a result Germany exports post consumer plastic and other materials some of which are highly contaminated Much of these exports go to Asia where some is reclaimed and the rest is openly dumped Also the packaging industry was permitted to establish a separate privately financed operation called Duales System Deutschland DSD to collect and sort packaging materials DSD has run out of capacity and is experiencing financial problems because of delinquent Green Dot payments from industry Problems with the program notwithstanding transferring responsibility to product and packaging manufacturers has yielded positive results most visibly in the reduced volume of packaging Taiwan Taiwan instigated mandatory recycling of PET soft drink bottles because of shrinking landfill capacity The country s twelve soft drink manufacturers put out receptacles for the bottles collect and sort them and pay for baling Baled plastic material is picked up and converted to reusable resin by a recycling corporation established by the country s two largest PET

    Original URL path: http://ecologycenter.org/plastics/ptf/report8/ (2016-04-30)
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  • PTF: PLASTIC INDUSTRY | Ecology Center
    containers The virgin plastics industry has resisted such cooperation by strongly opposing recycled content legislation and has defeated or weakened efforts to institute stronger laws in Oregon and California According to Senior Editor Victor Wigotsky of Plastics Engineering magazine the two largest plastic technology consortiums the American Plastics Council and The Society of the Plastics Industry have made a concerted effort to assure a measure of restraint and reason in the drafting of packaging legislation and to oppose the passage of some 180 restrictive legislative proposals in 32 states This behavior suggests that the bigger their share of the packaging market the more forcefully virgin plastic manufacturers will oppose recycled content laws Chasing arrows and the resin code Most plastic containers and many other plastic products are now imprinted with a number that represents the type of plastic used as previously noted in Table 1 This number appears inside a triangle of chasing arrows as shown below and the resin s initials are usually stamped below the symbol This usage first appeared in 1988 when The Society of the Plastics Industry SPI appropriated the chasing arrows a universal symbol of recyclability developed and used by the recycling industry After incorporating the chasing arrows into this label the SPI promoted this usage aggressively Within the USA this labeling has been institutionalized by state governments and is now required by 39 states It is also widely used internationally But although SPI s use of the chasing arrows with the resin code may be good for the plastics industry it has been very costly and irritating to recycling collectors The public sees the chasing arrows and assumes not only that anything stamped with them is technically recyclable but that local collectors and processors can handle them People then discard all grades of coded plastics into the same recycling bins The recycling collector however sees much of this material as contamination since there is often no infrastructure for taking the material back let alone paying for it once it is cleaned and separated The result is a new category of waste known as residue Residue is a major cost problem for materials recovery operators particularly those with multiple materials recovery facilities Aside from the misleading arrows the industry s code numbers confuse the public into mixing containers that can t be processed together For example blow molded and injection molded HDPE bottles have different melting behaviors so they cannot be processed together into a high quality recycled material Consumers sometimes blame recyclers if they try to contribute to the recycling effort but are told a program cannot accept their containers In its Fall 1988 COPPE Quarterly newsletter the Council on Plastics and Packaging in the Environment an industry group and predecessor to APC acknowledged that the legislatures in Florida Minnesota and Wisconsin adopted the coding system as an alternative to more stringent legislation One COPPE news story discussed an editorial in The New York Times about the decision made in Nassau County New York

    Original URL path: http://ecologycenter.org/plastics/ptf/report2/ (2016-04-30)
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  • PTF: REPROCESSING PLASTICS | Ecology Center
    differs from primary in the following respects It reprocesses materials in such a way as to render them less recyclable or unrecyclable It is less likely to be the highest and best use It does not usually reduce the production of plastic packaging from virgin resources A comparison of the material flows for alternative plastic disposal schemes reuse primary secondary reprocessing is shown below Primary and secondary schemes take material back into the production section for the reprocessing operation All three schemes are based on the same volume of use indicated by the thickness of the material flow arrows in the use section The amount of material produced and wasted increases going from reuse to primary to secondary reprocessing An interesting point shown in the figure is that secondary reprocessing the most common type of plastic reprocessing in the US does not form a closed loop Figure 1 Comparison of Material Flows with Alternative Disposal Schemes Tertiary reprocessing In tertiary reprocessing plastics are broken down into basic chemicals that could be reconstituted into virgin grade material or used as fuel Converting the output from tertiary processing back into ethylene for plastic synthesis uses cryogenic low temperature separation The process is very similar to producing ethylene from natural gas In theory tertiary reprocessing permits mixed collection without the extensive sorting and cleaning required by primary and to a lesser extent secondary reprocessing However since tertiary processes are functionally similar to chemical manufacturing the environmental impacts including emissions and energy use are likely to be high compared to primary or secondary reprocessing Tertiary is not widely practiced in the US because of the high capital and operating costs of the process Tertiary reprocessing of plastics has been done using thermal and chemical methods Chemical processes including glycolysis methanolysis and hydrolysis decompose plastic by unzipping the polymer chains Thermal processes primarily pyrolysis use heat and catalysts to break plastic down into gases such as ethane and methane Current thinking is that thermal processing is the only commercially viable type of tertiary reprocessing since only PET among the packaging resin types can be processed by chemical methods The pyrolysis process requires using a large stream of purified inert gas typically nitrogen to prevent the plastic from completely decomposing through combustion into carbon dioxide and water The process requires substantial energy input since plastics are poor thermal conductors When clean pure polymer feed streams are processed under laboratory conditions pyrolysis generates up to 10 waste material including coke and often hazardous inorganic compounds This result suggests that under production conditions with grossly mixed and contaminated feedstocks the residue may be substantially higher On the other hand some tertiary reprocessors in Germany have claimed they have reduced residual material to 5 of what came in This level is commendably low by conventional refining or remanufacturing operation standards The residues of existing tertiary processes are landfilled Marketing recovered plastics While recycling proportions are high for some container types in the US so far plastic recovery has had

    Original URL path: http://ecologycenter.org/plastics/ptf/report5/ (2016-04-30)
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  • PTF: REUSING PLASTIC CONTAINERS | Ecology Center
    single use containers reduces waste and energy consumption Based on 1990 data if glass and PET bottles were refilled and reused 25 35 times the overall weight of beer and soft drink container waste would be reduced by 73 6 Significant reductions in waste and energy consumption can be achieved with just 7 8 reuses of a single bottle One toxicity study investigating the use of PET for refillable bottles tested various toxic substances to see if they would be absorbed into the PET plastic during one use then released in the next use After test substances were removed and the plastic washed the bottles were filled with food and the contents were analyzed The analysis showed that none of the test substances was absorbed into the PET This study concluded that PET could be considered as a practical candidate for refillable containers As discussed above migration of additives from the PET itself is still a problem Reusing glass containers was standard procedure in this country through about the 1950s and there are still a few products distributed in reusable containers For example milk is sold in both plastic and glass containers that have been washed and refilled However with a long history of proven performance glass remains the most practical candidate for reusable containers BACK TO PLASTICS TASK FORCE Inspiring and building a sustainable healthy and just future for the East Bay California and beyond Donate Subscribe Thanks for signing up Stay in the loop with our events news and alerts The Ecology Center will never sell or share your contact information Email Address First Name Last Name Get Email Updates By submitting this form you are granting Ecology Center 2530 San Pablo Avenue Berkeley California 94702 United States http ecologycenter org permission to email you You may unsubscribe

    Original URL path: http://ecologycenter.org/plastics/ptf/report4/ (2016-04-30)
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  • From Here to China: Secrets of Plastic Recycling | Ecology Center
    the audio element Here are the recording time stamps for the beginning of each speakers presentation Martin Bourque 00 10 Patty Moore 25 38 Steve Lautze 55 19 Peter Schultz Allen 1 15 05 Q A closing comments 1 31 51 PRESENTATIONS Click here to open PDF of presentations in a new window Presentations have been combined into a single PDF in the order they were presented at the event SPEAKER BIOS Patty Moore is President and CEO of Moore Recycling Associates Inc Involved in the field of recycling since 1983 Moore was the principal author of How to Implement a Plastics Recycling Program and a participant in a Department of Commerce Plastics Trade and Investment Mission to China in 1996 She continues to have a strong interest and understanding of the critical role played by China and other developing nations in domestic recycling efforts Moore provides consulting services to industry based clients such as the American Chemistry Council and she is held in high regard by many Zero Waste and recycling advocates as a reliable expert on plastic recycling markets Steve Lautze is the Green Business Specialist for the City of Oakland Lautze has worked in recycling operations and consulted on recycling market development policy development and advocacy and sustainable economic development Lautze is President of the California Association of Recycling Market Development Zones CARMDZ and co founder of the Recycling BIN Build Infrastructure Now Coalition Steve is a longtime member and Past President of the Northern California Recycling Association and also a past President of the San Francisco Community Recyclers Board of Directors Peter Schultze Allen is a Senior Scientist for EOA Inc A consultant on Green Streets Green Infrastructure and Trash Litter Best Management Practices Schultze Allen served on Berkeley s Zero Waste Commission for nearly 12

    Original URL path: http://ecologycenter.org/blog/from-here-to-china-secrets-of-plastic-recycling/ (2016-04-30)
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  • Why Is there Plastic in this Soap? | Ecology Center
    for thousands of years they get washed down the drain These tiny pieces of plastic are so small water treatment plants don t capture them so they end up in our waterways Eventually they make it out to the ocean where they hang out with the tons of other plastic pollution that doesn t belong there and get eaten by fish birds turtles and other organisms who mistake plastic for their favorite foods These terrible impacts of our unnecessary plastic consumption have inspired a lot of creative action One community member who spends her days making soap at Artha Soaps decided to make a giant block of soap filled with plastic litter because she feels Plastic garbage belongs in soap as much as it belongs in albatross tummies or the oceans She s loaned us her garbage patch soap for the month It smells amazing and has inspired many intrigued visitors to touch it The big bottle caps and rings poking through remind us of macrobeads Both the art soap and microbeads demand the same question why is there plastic in this soap That question places doubt that the plastic needs to be there One of the most important ways we can battle plastic in our lives is by exploring the alternatives What do we gain when we give up plastic This Sunday July 26 from 1 3 pm we ll be hosting a workshop to learn to make your own Skin Cleansing Scrub and Toothpaste with alternative ingredients to plastic microbeads We hope you ll join us and give our special art soap a visit Space is limited register online here This entry was posted in Blog and tagged Artha Soap DIY Great Pacific Garbage Patch microbeads plastic free Plastic Free July by Ecology Center Bookmark the permalink Return

    Original URL path: http://ecologycenter.org/blog/why-is-there-plastic-in-this-soap/ (2016-04-30)
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