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PLASTIC BAGS and our WATER WORLD

Discussion in 'YachtForums Yacht Club' started by brian eiland, Jul 7, 2008.

  1. OutMyWindow

    OutMyWindow Senior Member

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    This positive movement is catching on.....
    _______________________

    Plastic Bag Laws Spread
    Cities around the world are moving to ban plastic shopping bags to protect the environment. A roundup:

    • In April 2007, Leaf Rapids, a town of about 550 people in Canada's Manitoba, became the first municipality in North America to adopt a law forbidding the use of plastic bags by shops. The law calls for fines of as much as 1,000 Canadian dollars, though no one has yet received one, a town official says. Local businesses offer reusable cloth bags as an alternative.

    • In March 2007, San Francisco became the first city to ban common plastic shopping bags. At least 30 villages and towns in Alaska have followed suit.

    • In January, the New York City Council voted to require large stores and retail chains to recycle plastic bags.

    • The following U.S. cities are considering fees or bans of plastic bags: Austin, Texas; Bakersfield, Calif.; Boston; New Haven, Conn.; Portland, Ore.; Phoenix; and Annapolis, Md.

    • In Germany, stores provide consumers with the option of a plastic bag or a canvas- or cotton-made tote — for a fee. Many German consumers carry their own bags when doing the shopping and it's not uncommon to see some using wicker baskets or wheeled carts. Stores that offer plastic bags have to pay a recycling fee.

    • In January, China announced a ban on stores handing out free plastic shopping bags. The ban takes effect June 1, two months before Beijing hosts the Summer Olympics. The measure will eliminate the flimsiest plastic bags and force stores to offer more durable bags.

    • Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania's Zanzibar islands have banned flimsy plastic, introducing minimum thickness requirements. Many independent supermarkets in Kenya's capital, Nairobi, now charge a small fee for each plastic bag but also give away a free, reusable basket with a minimum purchase.

    • In 2003, Ireland introduced a 22-cent levy on every plastic shopping bag. That, the government said, resulted in a big drop in the number of bags that stores were handing out. Some switched to paper bags; others stopped handing out bags completely. In July 2007, Ireland raised the fee to 32 cents.

    • Shopkeepers in the English town of Modbury, which has about 1,500 residents, eliminated disposable plastic bags, while some of the country's big grocery chains have offered customers money-saving incentives to reuse old bags.

    • The Swedish government is encouraging plastic bag producers to continually develop greener bags. Two of the Nordic country's biggest grocery chains have made biodegradable paper bags and reusable cloth bags available to shoppers.

    From the Associated Press
  2. AMG

    AMG YF Moderator

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    Yes we have got some biodegradable plastic bags at COOP since last year, unfortunately they don´t even last until you leave the shop...:D

    So the old plastic bags are back, but we also have classic paper bags which I use, when it is not raining...:rolleyes:
  3. OutMyWindow

    OutMyWindow Senior Member

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    Yup, I know what you mean, one of mine burst last month and took out about 15 square feet of lobby with pasta sauce. I still owe the concierge a bottle for cleaning it up.

    We used to have paper bags here, but they stopped producing them for some reason. Weird, since we have idle paper mills and millions of acres of dead (pine beetle) trees going to waste.
  4. stevenpet

    stevenpet New Member

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    That really is unfortunate to know Bamboo. That would have really bothered me to see. Integrity is very important to me.

    Did these F&G employees or scientists offer any solutions to the problem? Were they on the islands just to ducument the hazards or were they cleaning up the plastics as well?
  5. Bamboo

    Bamboo Senior Member

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    Sad but true as the saying goes. While it's bothering, it's really not that bad. It's not always easy to find a "photogenic" bird killed by eating plastic. You may not have the proper light, the proper state of decomposition, or location or any number of other factors. Do many birds die from eating plastic? Yes. Is it a problem? Yes. Can you get the "word out" better with a better picture? Yes. The real issue is that people become emotional and feel that measures like this are needed to solve the problem. Emotion clouds judgement which in turn can lead to actions that cross over ethical lines. F&W was on island to study wildlife- and many volunteers actually paid to assist in studies that were ongoing. Nearly all the people at Midway aligned with F&W seemed fanatical about environmental issues. The head of F&W while I was there retired (he was not so fanatical) and during his "going away" party only two of his staff attended. The rest held open disdain for him. Here is the first part of a Washington Times article announcing the closing of the fishing/diving/bird watching nature tours:
    Public access has been cut off to Midway Islands - where a historic battle marked the turning of U.S. fortunes in the Pacific theater of World War II - because of "extreme" environmental policies imposed by the federal government, a spokesman said yesterday.
    Kayaking was not allowed, nor was sailing or surfing. 3/4 of the beaches were completely off limits, and if you were sleeping on a beach and a monk seal came ashore near you (within 300 yards) F&W staff would wake you and make you leave the area. While the military utilized the island there were up to 5000 persons on island- when they left total population was under 200, and no more than 100 visitors were allowed at any given time. Bird populations exploded after the military cleared the island of underbrush and many trees. This is getting a bit off topic. Plastic is a problem. The NWHI see exponentionally more plastic and disgarded commercial fishing gear than any other island or group of islands in the pacific. While it is a problem and deserves our attention, we also must understand that those that document this are human and not immune to the same faults everyone may have. Money managers, professional sports referees, judges and police officers, (etc)... and scientists are all capable of "fudging" facts, figures and other things to change the outcome of a situation to favor what they wish to happen.
  6. NYCAP123

    NYCAP123 Senior Member

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    Personally, (and yes this is a knee jerk reaction) when anybody tries to shock me, like with photos such as what was posted above, my initial reaction is to discount them and anything they have to say.
  7. revdcs

    revdcs Senior Member

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  8. K1W1

    K1W1 Senior Member

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    Hi,

    That is a pretty enlightening video you posted there Revdcs.

    I am not familiar with the current UK Supermarket Bag policy but see that where I have been in Europe recently there is a drive for reusable bags all over the place.

    The best ones I have seen so far albeit they are large are the French Ones in Carrefour, they are water resistant and have good sturdy cloth type handles so no worries about your goodies ending up all over the road.

    The German cloth ones are a bit too small to be of use for anything other than one or two meals.

    A lot of people in Germany seem to carry plastic cases in their cars and unpack their einkaufswagens ( Shopping carts) directly into these.

    Whilst at home in NZ recently I was surprised for a country that has such a green reputation worldwide that it was business as usual with Plastic Bags available wherever you shopped, one chain gave a free re usable bag with over $30 I think it was of sales.
  9. NYCAP123

    NYCAP123 Senior Member

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    With their name on the side of those bags that amounts to free advertising since they're saving the cost by not giving away so many plastic bags. Makes sense to me.
    Around here they try to sell these little bags for $1 to $2. That's just greed, and using them just says you're a mark. I hope your guy's idea make it over here. What slows the environmental movement is that corporations first question is always 'How can I make money off it' instead of 'how can I help'.
  10. revdcs

    revdcs Senior Member

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    Plastic bags are disappearing rapidly over here too with many shops charging for them. SPAR are in the vanguard of green innovation with a ‘plastic’ carrier that is 100% biodegradable because it’s made from starch. They also give them away free! Several of the meat producers in Devon are now looking at using these starch based products instead of the plastic trays that most supermarket meat comes in.

    Although plastic bags are a big problem, the video shows that it is other products, especially those which are used for drinks, that are causing the greatest concern. Perhaps the time has come to go back to glass bottles. A little more expensive to produce and transport but they are 100% recyclable and I guess that if we want to buy a drink, we should be bearing the cost and not the environment or future generations.
  11. brian eiland

    brian eiland Senior Member

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    Plastic Breaks Down in Ocean, After All -- And Fast

    Carolyn Barry
    for National Geographic News
    August 20, 2009

    Though ocean-borne plastic trash has a reputation as an indestructible, immortal environmental villain, scientists announced yesterday that some plastics actually decompose rapidly in the ocean. And, the researchers say, that's not a good thing.

    The team's new study is the first to show that degrading plastics are leaching potentially toxic chemicals such as bisphenol A into the seas, possibly threatening ocean animals, and us.

    Scientists had previously thought plastics broke down only at very high temperatures and over hundreds of years.

    The researchers behind a new study, however, found that plastic breaks down at cooler temperatures than expected, and within a year of the trash hitting the water.

    The Japan-based team collected samples in waters from the U.S., Europe, India, Japan, and elsewhere, lead researcher Katsuhiko Saido, a chemist with the College of Pharmacy at Nihon University in Japan, said via email.

    All the water samples were found to contain derivatives of polystyrene, a common plastic used in disposable cutlery, Styrofoam, and DVD cases, among other things, said Saido, who presented the findings at a meeting of the American Chemical Society in Washington, D.C., today.

    Plastic, he said, should be considered a new source of chemical pollution in the ocean.


    Cooking Up Plastic Soup in the Seas

    The toxic compounds the team found don't occur naturally in the ocean, and the researchers thought plastic was the culprit.

    The scientists later simulated the decomposition of polystyrene in the sea and found that it degraded at temperatures of 86 degrees Fahrenheit (30 degrees Celsius).

    Left behind in the water were the same compounds detected in the ocean samples, such as styrene trimer, a polystyrene by-product, and bisphenol A, a chemical used in hard plastics such as reusable water bottles and the linings of aluminum cans.

    Bisphenol A (BPA) has been shown to interfere with the reproductive systems of animals, while styrene monomer is a suspected carcinogen.

    The pollutants are likely to be more concentrated in areas heavily littered with plastic debris, such as ocean vortices, which occur where currents meet.

    (Related: "Giant Ocean-Trash Vortex Attracts Explorers.")


    Plastic Breaks Down Fast

    About 44 percent of all seabirds eat plastic, apparently by mistake, sometimes with fatal effects. And 267 marine species are affected by plastic garbage—animals are known to swallow plastic bags, which resemble jellyfish in mid-ocean, for example—according to a 2008 study in the journal Environmental Research by oceanographer and chemist Charles Moore, of the Algalita Marine Research Foundation.

    Now, it seems, they also face the invisible threat of toxic, plastic-derived chemicals.

    Once Styrofoam, for example, breaks down, the tiny polystyrene components start to sink, because they're heavier than water, Moore said. "So it's likely that this styrene pollutant is prevalent throughout the water column and not just at the surface."

    Along with Moore, David Barnes, a marine ecologist from the British Antarctic Survey, doesn't think the Japanese team's lab results can be applied uniformly across the ocean, however. Water temperatures are typically much cooler than the 86 degrees Fahrenheit in the study, he said.

    "We're talking about, effectively, what happens in [zones] of tropical and some subtropical coasts. And there, [the] study may be very important," Barnes said.


    Ocean as "Plastic Soup"

    Plastic hits marine creatures with a double whammy, Moore said. Along with the toxic chemicals released from the breakdown of plastic, animals also take in other chemicals that the plastic has accumulated from outside sources in the water.

    "We knew ten years ago that plastic could be a million times more toxic than the seawater itself," because plastic items tend to accumulate a surface layer of chemicals from seawater, Moore said. "They're sponges."

    Moore worries about the plastic-derived chemicals' potential damage to wildlife. The chemicals can potentially cause cancer in humans, he said, and simpler life-forms "may be more susceptible then we are."

    Pollutants also become more concentrated as animals eat other contaminated animals—which could be bad news for us, the animals at the top of the food chain. (Read National Geographic magazine's "The Pollution Within.")

    Moore estimates plastic debris—most of it smaller than a fifth of an inch (five millimeters)—is "dispersed over millions of square miles of ocean and miles' deep in the water column.

    "The plastic soup we've made of the ocean is pretty universal—it's just a matter of degree," he said. "All these effects we're worried about are happening throughout the ocean as a unity."
  12. NYCAP123

    NYCAP123 Senior Member

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    Let's be realistic. Talk is cheap. and it just goes on and on. The only thing that matters is profit. Kill the oceans; kill the land; kill the air. Let whatever species that can survive that have what's left. Man will not change. Soon he'll make himself extinct and it will be well deserved. The ants and cockroaches are having a good laugh.
  13. brian eiland

    brian eiland Senior Member

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  14. NYCAP123

    NYCAP123 Senior Member

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    Soup?

    That's quite a step back from what was posted in January.

  15. revdcs

    revdcs Senior Member

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    Food (or plastic) for thought...

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  16. brian eiland

    brian eiland Senior Member

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    US scientists have returned from an expedition to the 'Great Pacific Garbage Patch' - estimated to be 'the size of Texas'- with samples of plastic debris they pulled out of the ocean — soda bottles, cracked patio chairs, Styrofoam chunks, old toys, discarded fishing floats and tangled nets.

    But what alarmed them most, they said, was the nearly inconceivable amount of tiny, confetti-like pieces of broken plastic. They took hundreds of water samples between the Farallon Islands near San Francisco and the notorious garbage patch 1,000 miles west of California, and every one had tiny bits of plastic floating in it. And the closer they sailed to the garbage patch, the more plastic pieces per gallon they found.

    'Marine debris is the new man-made epidemic. It's that serious,' said Andrea Neal, principal investigator on the Kaisei, a 151-foot research ship on the trip back in September 2009.

    Neal, a researcher who has a doctorate in molecular genetics and biochemistry, said crews on the three-week voyage discovered tiny jellyfish eating bits of the plastic debris. The jellyfish are, in turn, eaten by fish like salmon or tuna, which people eat.

    Because the plastic pieces contain toxic chemicals — and are believed to be able to absorb now-banned chemicals such as DDT and PCBs, which can persist in the environment for decades — state toxicologists have taken hundreds of the objects, along with more than 300 fish, to an environmental chemistry lab in Berkeley to see if any chemicals are moving up the food chain.

    'Every day, every night, we'd pull up samples and pour the water through a sieve. It would be completely clogged with tiny pieces of plastic,' said Margy Gassel, a research scientist with the California Environmental Protection Agency. 'It was so disturbing.'

    The research was the most extensive look yet at the garbage patch, a collection of mostly plastic debris located 1,000 miles north of Hawaii. The bobbing debris field, where currents swirl everything from discarded fishing line to plastic bottles into one soupy mess, was discovered in the mid-1990s.

    Not much is known about it, including when it began forming or even its exact boundaries. It cannot be seen from the air or from satellites because most of the plastic has broken down into billions of tiny, confettilike pieces that float just below the surface.

    Scientists believe the trash washes down storm drains and rivers from places such as the Bay Area or Japan, eventually drifting into several large ocean vortices where currents swirl together.

    Two ships embarked a month ago to study the site. The New Horizon, a 170-foot vessel, was sent by the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California-San Diego. The Kaisei — whose name means 'ocean planet' in Japanese — left from Richmond. It was sent by Ocean Voyages Institute, a Sausalito nonprofit that privately raised $500,000 for the voyage.

    Both ships met at sea, collected water samples and took thousands of readings and photographs. Their goal: to study the patch's size, how the plastic affects wildlife and whether it may be possible to one day clean up some of it.
    Doug Woodring, a former Merrill Lynch financier and one of the founders of Project Kaisei, said Tuesday at a San Francisco news conference that one solution to the problem might be to dramatically increase the use of plant-based, biodegradable plastic and to beef up plastics-recycling programs. Designing storm drains to catch plastic debris also is a possibility, he said.

    'We're not talking about a plastic-bag tax,' he said. 'We need to move the needle beyond that.'

    The garbage patch is emerging as a major international environmental concern. Not only do its plastics pose a potential chemical threat, but birds, sea turtles and other marine life die when they eat or become entangled in floating plastic. Invasive species such as crabs, barnacles and other marine life also can attach themselves to it and float across the globe.

    In the central Pacific, there are up to six pounds of marine litter for every pound of plankton, according to a 2006 report from the United Nations Environment Programme. And roughly 46,000 pieces of plastic litter are floating on every square mile of the oceans there, the report found.

    John Chen, a spokesman for the Bureau of International Recycling, an industry group that contributed to the trip's costs, cited fees placed on bottles and new computers under California laws that help cover recycling costs. He said such fees may be a model for recycling all plastic products.

    Research papers from the expedition will not be published for several months. But Mary Crowley, a Sausalito resident who owns a yacht chartering company, Ocean Voyages, and who co-founded Project Kaisei, said time is of the essence.

    'The floating pieces of plastic — large and small — are like a spreading cancer on the ocean,' she said. 'It's impossible for me to think of what the ocean might be like in another 30 years if we don't change.'

    According to Project Kaisei, the Plastic Vortex poses a threat to the entire food chain.

    Plastics and other wastes in the oceans:

    • Can kill marine life;
    • May be entering our food chain (studies on this issue will be undertaken by the Project Kaisei Science Team and other researchers);
    • Continues to increase due to poor waste management practices on land and sea; and
    • Can have a negative effect on people’s health and safety.

    It is estimated that over 60% of the plastic and other wastes (including rubber and aluminum) in the ocean come from land-based sources, and once in the sea, they are at the mercy of the confluence of tides, currents and winds because they are buoyant. Over time through exposure to the sun and heat, some plastic materials can disintegrate into ever smaller pieces due to weather and UV impact.

    More at www.projectkaisei.org
  17. NYCAP123

    NYCAP123 Senior Member

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    Since everything today is made of plastic I don't see any cure on the horizon. Of course we could go back to glass and steel, but that might bring jobs back to the U.S. so that won't happen. On the up side it seems that the plastic is heading back to from where it came. Are they concerned?
  18. brian eiland

    brian eiland Senior Member

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    Europe to PAY fishermen to collect plastic from the ocean

    While independent lobby groups are leading the way, there are some sporadic moves afoot by governments around the world to save our oceans and ocean life (and our food chain) from plastic. In India new rules include a 'no free plastic bag' initiative by government, in the United Arab Emirates they vow to be 100% plastic-free by 2013 and now in the EU the authorities are to pay fishermen to retrieve plastic bags from the ocean.

    Currently the world's population uses and discards around 500 billion plastic bags every year. The European Union (EU) plans to pay the continent’s fishing fleets for collecting plastic as part of an initiative that will help reduce pollution in sea.

    As per under consideration proposals from EU commissioner for fisheries Maria Damanaki, fishermen will be paid to land plastic to provide them with income and reduce pressure on dwindling fish stocks, the Sunday Express reported.

    Vessels that clear up plastic will initially be subsidised by the EU. The hope is that the practice will become self-sustaining as the value of recycled plastics increases.

    Damanaki will unveil a trial project in the Mediterranean this month, which will see fishermen equipped with nets to collect plastic debris.

    The plan, as well as an attempt to handle seaborne waste, is also aimed at pacifying Europe’s fishing industry over a potential prohibition on the wasteful practice of dumping low-value fish at sea.

    Fleets fear of losing money by not being able to throw away lower-value catch for which they say there is little demand. A million tonnes are thrown back each year in the North Sea alone.

    Commissioner Damanaki said: ‘Ending this practice of throwing away edible fish is in the interest of fishermen and consumers. It has to happen, we cannot have consumers afraid to eat fish because they hate this problem of discards.

    ‘People (in the fishing industry) feel insecure because this is a change. That is why they need incentives.’ The industry will contribute to the pilot but it is not known how much each fisherman will get. Payments will depend on tonnage and the recycling market.

    Plastics 2020 Challenge, an industry campaign that supports recycling and preventing litter, is backing the move.

    by Sail-World Cruising
  19. dennismc

    dennismc Senior Member

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    Plastic

    Would sure like to see an audit of all the so called enviro taxes collected and what was done with the dollars. We pay more tax but seem to go backwards with the cure.
    Seems there should be a major push to clean up the garbage patch in the Pacific and considering that emissions now from factory stacks can be "washed" virtually clean, we should re institute incineration of more garbage. Am amazed that the booze industry in Florida does not re cycle cans and bottles. I also think that the "developing" Countries are going to be major contributers of the garbage problem and as developed countries improve the situation, there is a counter productive push from the others.
    This idea of Governments adding so called enviro taxes is really a cash grab in the hope that it will "punish" people into more green actions and usually just goes to create another useless department of something or other as the past has proven.
    When I retired I gave up the second car, I walk more and at least help in a minimal way to reduce my carbon footprint.
  20. FutureYachter

    FutureYachter Member

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    From a purely economic perspective, the idea behind taxes to promote green initiatives is not to "punish people into more green actions" but to make products prices reflect their actual costs. These costs are not reflected in the price and are born by other people than the manufacturers, sellers and consumers of the product. For example, a tax could be placed on plastic bags to reflect the health effects of the pollution caused by their production and transportation, the costs of cleaning them out of the oceans, the costs of disposing of or recycling them, etc.. The decreased use of plastic bags or "green action," is a side effect of the tax, but not a motivation (in a perfect world; your mileage may vary).

    Of course, that is not always the motivation of any individual legislator for raising taxes and how the taxes collected are actually spent is a completely different topic...;)