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Drew

OPC suggests CA banning plastic bags and containers to protect oceans

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In order to lesser further pollution of the pacific ocean, California's Ocean Protection Council (OPC) has recommended a ban on plastic bags and containers. Furthermore, it calls for plastic manufacturers to recover and dispose of plastic products properly.

This drastic move is a response to the burgeoning problem of plastic pollution in the Pacific Ocean. The "trash vortex, garbage accumulated in the ocean current gyres is a huge problem for marine life and general ocean health. Such an action, IF EVER enacted by California, would have to be followed by all the other Pacific Ocean countries, including big polluting countries like China and Canada. Even states like Washington and Oregon would have to join in.

Now you have to ask, when did the world last act in such unison over a long term problem? Already, there is a movement to negate this recommendation by plastic manufacturers.

Here is the recommendation from the OPC:

An implementation Strategy for the California Ocean Protection Council Resolution to Reduce and Prevent Ocean Litter

Let's be realistic and accept that it'll probably never pass even with the 'Guvernator' in power. So what can we do about pollution? Try to make sure we recycle our plastic products and purchase things without plastic wrapping/bags. Use glass and aluminum when possible. Basically consume less. ;)

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As of July 2009, retail stores in Los Angeles can no longer give plastic bags to customers.

Definitely a step in the right direction!

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Where did you hear that? Last I heard the City Council voted for a ban in July 2010 unless the state charges a fee for each bag. It is not law yet unless something has changed in the last month.

Even countries like South Africa, Uganda( an outright ban) and China (since last year, in preparation for the olympics no doubt ;)) has been doing it for years, yet we in the US have just started to play catch up because of plastic lobbyist and lawsuits by the plastic industry. Europe is also lagging behind. Not that paper bags are any more eco-friendly. Trees felled, more resources used to make and recycle paper bags, and the methane released from decomposition. Cloth bags are the best thing we can use for shopping nowadays.

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The oceans are a plastic soup these days. I can't seem to escape it even in the most remote places on the earth. Like every other preservation proposal, it is likely to be met with severe opposition and foot dragging. That said, incredible numbers of sea creatures and mammals are suffocating on plastic every day. The fact that the action is even being considered is a surprisingly positive step. Will people act in time? Who knows but we can only hope.

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Drew;

 

Plastic is a problem for the world ocean not just the Pacific. But it is everybody's problem

on the Pacific rim, relative to the trash gyre systems. The NE Pacific gyre that Captain

Moore of the Algalita Marine Research Foundation has studied has had an exponential rise

in plastic debris when compared to plankton (food) in the recent scientific trawl studies.

 

As plastic drifts in the ocean it accumulates toxins, and photo-degrades into smaller sizes.

This is how plastic can break down and resemble food as to size, shape, and color in the form of

drifting "toxic" chips. If you investigate the sand on Hawaiian beaches, you can see there are plastic chips

in the sand, and most of the colors are blues, clears, white, & black. The reds and yellow chips are missing or

fewer in number, which leads scientists to conclude that the warm colors resemble food items like squid and krill and are eaten,

Researchers know there are red and yellow items drifitng off shore. It's a real serious CSI (Contaminated Sea Investigation)

Plastic bags mimic jelly fish and are fed on by adult turtles. In addition, the bags are guilty of choking storm drains when it rains and are a big reason urban areas flood during storms.

 

 

Here is a link to a film that I produced to explain the problem:

 

I used to see this problem as I dove locally and internationally, and thought it was a visual issue.

Now that I have read the scientific papers on the issue I am haunted by the implications.

 

 

A uptick in the problem has occurred due to rotational molding industries and the use of "plastic dust" in manufacture.

When the dust escapes into the environment it enters the watershed. The dust is much smaller than the standard plastic

pellet commonly used as industrial feed stock. And, as a synthetic plastic the dusts will absorb toxins, and so small as to become infused into sea creatures (via food chain,or simply breathing). Unfortunately the larger pellets (called nurdles) become toxic as well, mostly float near the surface and resemble fish eggs. Bad news all around.

 

Burning and microwaving plastics have additional toxic "paybacks" of dioxin and BPA release.

 

And this story: There was a report out of Jakarta that some street vendors were adding a plastic bag to their deep fry oil that makes the plantains (fried bananas) crispy for 4 hours more. But they were uncovered. Go figure!

 

What can photo-divers do? Take that picture that depicts "ingestion" or entanglements. If someone can document zooplankton ingesting

plastic dust.............. that would be great.

 

Otherwise by sincere apologies for perhaps upsetting your day. As a "techie" Drew, you should be able to grasp this immediately.

 

 

Bill Macdonald

 

 

In order to lesser further pollution of the pacific ocean, California's Ocean Protection Council (OPC) has recommended a ban on plastic bags and containers. Furthermore, it calls for plastic manufacturers to recover and dispose of plastic products properly.

This drastic move is a response to the burgeoning problem of plastic pollution in the Pacific Ocean. The "trash vortex, garbage accumulated in the ocean current gyres is a huge problem for marine life and general ocean health. Such an action, IF EVER enacted by California, would have to be followed by all the other Pacific Ocean countries, including big polluting countries like China and Canada. Even states like Washington and Oregon would have to join in.

Now you have to ask, when did the world last act in such unison over a long term problem? Already, there is a movement to negate this recommendation by plastic manufacturers.

Here is the recommendation from the OPC:

An implementation Strategy for the California Ocean Protection Council Resolution to Reduce and Prevent Ocean Litter

Let's be realistic and accept that it'll probably never pass even with the 'Guvernator' in power. So what can we do about pollution? Try to make sure we recycle our plastic products and purchase things without plastic wrapping/bags. Use glass and aluminum when possible. Basically consume less. ;)

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Bill

The goreng pisang story has been rife in South East Asia for years. I was told about it years ago but I never saw it on my own. Apparently the plastic gives the crispy texture a certain permanence ;). I'm a big fan of asian street food but never did get into the fried stuff. I'm glad now :)

The other real problem is even if we cut plastic out of our lives like today... the problem will exist for a long time to come... probably past human civilization. But the good news is I'll be long dead by then and be part of the history that the future humans will lament at how stupid humanity was in the ancient world.

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Drew;

 

If by some magical switch we could stop plastic pollution, the scientists I know theorize

that plastic debris would still wash up on our shores for 100s of years. Dr Sylvia A Earle said

"That if Columbus had sailed with disposable plastic ware, we would still have chip remnants floating

onto beaches". Captain Moore coined the phrase: "Plastics, Like Diamonds, are forever!"

 

Global warming has its own problems for the world ocean, and floating within is what I call

the "Synthetic Time Bomb" ......... tick, tick, ticking away!

 

Bill Macdonald

www.youtube.com/007bmac

 

 

 

Bill

The goreng pisang story has been rife in South East Asia for years. I was told about it years ago but I never saw it on my own. Apparently the plastic gives the crispy texture a certain permanence ;). I'm a big fan of asian street food but never did get into the fried stuff. I'm glad now :)

The other real problem is even if we cut plastic out of our lives like today... the problem will exist for a long time to come... probably past human civilization. But the good news is I'll be long dead by then and be part of the history that the future humans will lament at how stupid humanity was in the ancient world.

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In some states in Oz, the Gov't is now trialing/charging a levy/tax on every plastic bag supplied by supermarkets with groceries.

I think that it is 10cents per bag.

I don't know about the rest of Oz, but down here in Victoria, supermarket chains have been offering green utlity bags for sale to the community

for the express purpose of carrying your purchases from store to home and negating the use of plastic bags.

It is amazing at the supermarkets watching those "lazy souls" who don't give a damn and turn up week in/ week out and never carry a green bag.

The green bags are available for $1aud each and are very sturdy and last for years, yet there are countless idiots who have to pay more than $1

each trip for plastic bags that are of only single use...

I would suggest taxing them $1 per plastic bag and see how quickly they get the idea. . . . ;)

 

Hooroo,

Bruce...

Edited by bruceterrill

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Well it takes a lot of lifestyle changes to reduce plastic waste. Reusing containers, no more plastic liners and for new parents, no more plastic nappies (cornstarch nappies are better but you really should learn how to wash them ;)). There are so many ways we can cut down plastic waste. Unfortunately, we've built a lifestyle around the plastic world, so suddenly cutting it out is nigh impossible for most. I manage to cut 95% when I'm at home but once I travel, it's so much more difficult in places like Asia. Africa on the hand is much better amazingly.

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In some states in Oz, the Gov't is now trialing/charging a levy/tax on every plastic bag supplied by supermarkets with groceries.

I think that it is 10cents per bag.

I don't know about the rest of Oz, but down here in Victoria, supermarket chains have been offering green utlity bags for sale to the community

for the express purpose of carrying your purchases from store to home and negating the use of plastic bags.

It is amazing at the supermarkets watching those "lazy souls" who don't give a damn and turn up week in/ week out and never carry a green bag.

The green bags are available for $1aud each and are very sturdy and last for years, yet there are countless idiots who have to pay more than $1

each trip for plastic bags that are of only single use...

I would suggest taxing them $1 per plastic bag and see how quickly they get the idea. . . . ;)

 

Hooroo,

Bruce...

 

That's the kind of bass-ackward thinking that has people leaving California in droves. First, regulate it. Second, penalize people for it. Third, don't give them any positive reason to do something. When are people going to figure out that it DOESN'T WORK?????

 

If you want people to cut down on something like using plastic bags and containers, offer them a carrot instead of a whip. Make it to their advantage to do so. I'm in Salinas, California right now, and they already charge a deposit on things like 2 liter soda bottles. The 10 cent deposit gets refunded when you take the bottle to the recycling center, which is about as well marked and easy to find as the Treasure of El Dorado. So, most people around here recycle their bottles and get the money back, right? Wrong. Almost nobody does it. Why? Because it's not worth the time and effort just to get back something that they consider another part of the cost of living. Now, if the state dropped their idiotic deposit, and a recycling company came in and said "We'll pay you X amount per pound for your bottles" or something like that, so the consumer actually MADE a little on it, more people might do it. [Aside: in this town, bigger signs pointing to where the stupid recycling place is would help, too.] Taxing something isn't going to change people's behavior regarding it.

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Well I'm not sure if there is another way except to make it monetarily undesirable to have plastic bags. The sad truth is many people (if not most) don't care if it means an inconvenience to their lifestyle. And that's just beyond the "basic necessities" like shopping bags. Plastic is in almost every aspect of our lives. Even in our chosen hobbies of image making, many buy cameras every year if not more often. Consumerism will always outstrip recycling. Recycling anything also requires energy. Right now, because of how things are structured, it is pretty difficult to reduce plastic consumption drastically for all levels of society. This is especially true for the industrialized nations so accustomed to having it around.

Even garbage has to be rethought in terms of compost waste management (worms, bokashi etc) since garbage bags are also plastic. Biodegradable bags are better but there are differences there too. I'm afraid we are all guilty over adding the the problem and have to increase our own efforts to protect the planet. I for one am almost the biggest hypocrite since I fly 150k miles a year easily. And when I look at my garage 'museum' of stuff I've bought over the years for fun, I'd estimate my footprint is as large as anyone else's. But that doesn't mean I stop trying to improve.

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There is nothing wrong with plastic. It just needs to be kept out of the ocean. I'm not against plastic bags per se, but if the OPC wanted to actually to recommend something that might be accepted, they should have stuck with just bags and not included the broader container category. Landfills for non-hazardous materials are a wonderful thing.

 

Furthermore, it calls for plastic manufacturers to recover and dispose of plastic products properly.

 

How can you make manufacturers responsible for recovery?

 

I know most everyone supports recycling, but recycling plastic is a terrible idea, born on the false premise of exhausted land fill space. Just bury it. Don't throw it out the window. Don't dump it in the ocean. Don't recycle it. Don't eat it. Just bury it.

 

Sure, you can replace plastic with other materials, but there is a very real cost.

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That's the kind of bass-ackward thinking that has people leaving California in droves. First, regulate it. Second, penalize people for it. Third, don't give them any positive reason to do something. When are people going to figure out that it DOESN'T WORK?????

 

Sorry, I'm still here (and relatively happily I might add) and believe that SOMEONE has to lead.

 

It does work. Look at the Emissions of automobiles in the US. CA took the lead and as a major economic power we have the market share to make a difference.

 

I don't always agree with draconian policies but...

Edited by hoovermd

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Sorry, I'm still here (and relatively happily I might add) and believe that SOMEONE has to lead.

 

It does work. Look at the Emissions of automobiles in the US. CA took the lead and as a major economic power we have the market share to make a difference.

 

I don't always agree with draconian policies but...

 

I have news for you. I've lived in CA and I've lived in 7 other states, and most of the other states either curse or laugh at CA. I'm always amused by CA's inflated opinion of itself. If you don't mind some clown of a politician penalizing you if you scratch your butt too many times a day, that's your problem. Positive reinforcement will still get better results every time. But CA will never figure that out, because the other way generates too many extra tax dollars for the Powers That Be.

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I live in South Africa and as mentioned above, we have had a a cost added to our plastic bags for some years. For a while it seemed to work but now most seem just to pay at the supermarkets. It's full of itfalls, however as some elements have discovered that it applies to HDPE plastic and now add a small quantity of LDPE and hey presto no charge is applicable and smaller stores happily buy these bags. What has also happened is that a thicker plastic bag was regulated and now we have bags that will probably take much longer to breakdown

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There is nothing wrong with plastic. It just needs to be kept out of the ocean. I'm not against plastic bags per se, but if the OPC wanted to actually to recommend something that might be accepted, they should have stuck with just bags and not included the broader container category. Landfills for non-hazardous materials are a wonderful thing.

I know most everyone supports recycling, but recycling plastic is a terrible idea, born on the false premise of exhausted land fill space. Just bury it. Don't throw it out the window. Don't dump it in the ocean. Don't recycle it. Don't eat it. Just bury it.

George, that may work for some countries with land to bury the trash. But many other countries do not have that luxury. Consider Indonesia, 17000 islands and over 200 million people. Since a lot of the land is prime agricultural growing land, land fills are a problem. I guess every asian country could pay australia to be the dumping ground But I doubt the ozzies would be too happy to get dumped on. ;)

 

I have news for you. I've lived in CA and I've lived in 7 other states, and most of the other states either curse or laugh at CA. I'm always amused by CA's inflated opinion of itself. If you don't mind some clown of a politician penalizing you if you scratch your butt too many times a day, that's your problem. Positive reinforcement will still get better results every time. But CA will never figure that out, because the other way generates too many extra tax dollars for the Powers That Be.

Like it or not, California,while far from perfect, managed to clean up the emissions and thus the air quality in Southern California by imposing tough emission laws in the 60s on. Whether you believe that there is global warming or not, reducing emissions is a good thing. So is reducing plastic waste. I do remember a study theorizing the plastic pellets also come from train yards after big storms.

 

I live in South Africa and as mentioned above, we have had a a cost added to our plastic bags for some years. For a while it seemed to work but now most seem just to pay at the supermarkets. It's full of itfalls, however as some elements have discovered that it applies to HDPE plastic and now add a small quantity of LDPE and hey presto no charge is applicable and smaller stores happily buy these bags. What has also happened is that a thicker plastic bag was regulated and now we have bags that will probably take much longer to breakdown

David, obviously the ZA system is far from perfect. I have to pay for a bag at SPAR and Pick n' Save but not a Woolies? Since I spend a lot of time near rivers on the Eastern Cape, I do notice there isn't much plastic bag debris even after the big storms. plastic bottles on the other hand.

Go to most of the South East Asian countries after a big rain storm and see what debris is in the ocean. I am still batting 100 for finding a plastic slipper at sea wherever I go.

We do have to accept there is no easy answer in waste management, perhaps there isn't a real answer at all. I do know if we consume less, there's less waste. Perhaps that's a good place to start.

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George, that may work for some countries with land to bury the trash. But many other countries do not have that luxury. Consider Indonesia, 17000 islands and over 200 million people. Since a lot of the land is prime agricultural growing land, land fills are a problem. I guess every asian country could pay australia to be the dumping ground But I doubt the ozzies would be too happy to get dumped on. biggrin.gif

 

They might. It's all about price. That's why barges of trash leave NYC every week.

 

If land fills aren't a solution in places like Indonesia, then ban plastic bags, or burn them (oops, forget I said that). But it begs the question of what happens to all solid waste in Indonesia. Does it go in the ocean? If so, it is very big and difficult issue.

 

There was time when I naively thought that recycling plastic would be a good thing. Then I tried to have a warehouse full of plastic tubes recycled, which then led me down the path of discovery. If you care about the environment and want to be green, recycling plastic should be off the table.

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I have news for you. I've lived in CA and I've lived in 7 other states, and most of the other states either curse or laugh at CA. I'm always amused by CA's inflated opinion of itself. If you don't mind some clown of a politician penalizing you if you scratch your butt too many times a day, that's your problem. Positive reinforcement will still get better results every time. But CA will never figure that out, because the other way generates too many extra tax dollars for the Powers That Be.

 

 

It is nice that everyone can have their own opinions irrespective of the facts.

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Like it or not, California,while far from perfect, managed to clean up the emissions and thus the air quality in Southern California by imposing tough emission laws in the 60s on. Whether you believe that there is global warming or not, reducing emissions is a good thing. So is reducing plastic waste. I do remember a study theorizing the plastic pellets also come from train yards after big storms.

 

I know how well they cleaned it up; I was there and watched it happen. At the same time, that's as opposed to, say, Idaho, which chose from the beginning to limit wildcat growth and development precisely to avoid finding themselves in a situation like LA.

 

Ah, I'm just yanking your chain a bit. I do give CA credit for cleaning up the mess they had made. I just believe, based on research and personal experience as well as raising 3 great kids, that positive reinforcement works better than punishment as a first resort.

 

I wholeheartedly agree that plastic doesn't belong in the ocean, and try to pick it up whenever I find it during a dive. What's the ultimate solution? I haven't a clue. But I doubt that banning plastic bags in one little corner of the Pacific Rim is going to do much.

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Well it takes a lot of lifestyle changes to reduce plastic waste. Reusing containers, no more plastic liners and for new parents, no more plastic nappies (cornstarch nappies are better but you really should learn how to wash them :)). There are so many ways we can cut down plastic waste. Unfortunately, we've built a lifestyle around the plastic world, so suddenly cutting it out is nigh impossible for most. I manage to cut 95% when I'm at home but once I travel, it's so much more difficult in places like Asia. Africa on the hand is much better amazingly.

 

 

Drew;

 

Lifestyle change indeed. That will get us thinking clearly about the "plastic pollution" problem.

But where do folks go for detailed BMPs and other helpful information?

 

Try: http://www.plasticdebris.org/bibliography.html

 

This site is the result of a state wide project a few years ago and has the best information on the

"plastic synthetic" dilemma, and urban run-off challenges.

 

There is a video that goes with this site, here's a 5 minute segment from the 25 minute film:

 

The www site above has great links and a way to study this problem in depth.

 

Photographers can best help by shooting pictures that demonstrate the impact of plastic debris.

The shot of a turtle choking on a plastic bag has been seen by millions, also photogrphs from

Midway island depicting dead albatross chicks with their "bolus" choking with plastic debris have

helped. Charismatic megafauna impacts on birds and turtles get big play. What is REALLY needed

(IMHO) is a shot of plastic dust particles being ingested at the zooplankton level.

Such a photo does not exist. We know that birds fish and turtles confuse plastic for food, but does

the zooplankton? If zooplankton consume plastic particles, there is a huge contamination prospect

for the entire ocean food web. Any science photographers out there?

 

Hope this helps direct interested individuals to best BMPs and understanding of this dire issue.

 

One thing we do when we travel to Raja Ampat, Halmahera or other remote areas: we take all the plastic wrappers back with us.

DV tape plastics, medical plastic, bottle cap wrappings, etc get put in a zip lock and are used for padding. Not put in

the general vessel / resort trash. Not a difficult thing to do when traveling.

 

Bill Macdonald

www.youtube.com/007bmac

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