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14 votes

How many times do you need to use a cheap re-usable bag to offset its impact?

The cheapest reusable bags round here are made of the same plastic as disposable bags. In this case the number of uses required is simply the ratio of the weights. Without getting the scales out I ...
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11 votes
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Is plastic food packaging 100% reusable?

There is a difference between reuse and recycling. Reuse is using a container again without major modifications. Recycling is transforming a container into its core elements and using that to make an ...
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10 votes

Should we leave all fossil fuels in the ground and not use them?

Yes, we should leave the larger part of all known fossil fuel reserves in the ground. Scientists have calculated that if we want to keep global temperature rise under 2 degrees C (which was agreed ...
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8 votes
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What chemicals are used to replace BPA in plastics?

First of all, in many products BPA has not been replaced at all. It is still present in many types of food packaging, especially in canned foods. AFAIK the main exception is baby bottles which are ...
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8 votes
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How to recycle disintegrated plastic bags, without negatively impacting the environment?

Unless the plastic bags are labelled with a recycling symbol, there is no easy way to know if the plastic is even recyclable. Good biodegradable plastic bags are made from decomposable materials, ...
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  • 5,903
8 votes
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Pure Plastic vs Biodegradable Plastic

It doesn't appear that there are any specific studies comparing the environmental impact of dog waste disposed of in biodegradable vs non-biodegradable bags, however there's quite a bit of work that's ...
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  • 11.2k
8 votes

How do plastic bags and other waste end up in the ocean?

There are many ways how plastic waste ends up in the sea. A non-complete list would include the following: Micro-plastics from our washing processes, they are in almost everything like shampoo, ...
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  • 929
8 votes
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Does transporting plastic offset the benefits of recycling it?

tl;dr: No, shipping plastic waste to China for recycling does not offset the benefits, as it reduces the net energy savings by 3% or less. Polyethylene, The most common plastic According to ...
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7 votes

Would it be possible to recycle all plastic into bricks and use them for building or insulation?

It's definitely possible to recycle plastic and create LEGO-like building blocks. In fact several houses have already been built this way! In 2010 a Colombian architect called Oscar Mendez had the ...
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  • 14k
7 votes

Would it be possible to recycle all plastic into bricks and use them for building or insulation?

At present the plastic waste stream can be diverted into multi-color goo mixed with wood chips and be extruded into synthetic fence posts. Ugly as sin, but better than nothing, and I think that for ...
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7 votes

What is the most sustainable packaging for milk?

Depends a lot on where you live, but if you have the possibility to refill your own glass bottle, then I would call that the most sustainable option. In this part of Europe (Hungary/Romania) there are ...
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  • 251
6 votes
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Can plastic with only the Japanese recycling symbol be recycled in the US?

Jumping into this late but I couldn't help it because this is what I do for a living (guide major corporations on recycling). The mark you have simply means that the bag is plastic (it's not ...
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6 votes
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What will be the effect of PET-eating bacteria in society?

From what I've read the bacteria can completely degrade PET-film in 6 weeks via two enzymes that turn PET into terephthalic acid and ethylene glycol. Both substances are both environmentally benign. ...
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6 votes

Is there a shaving razor that is an alternative to, say, Gillette Mach 3, and does not use plastic ?

I'm an energy consultant - I'm also aware of the environmental impacts of plastic - however; I still have to ask, what is the issue with plastic? The only thing more sustainable than plastic is SOME ...
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  • 496
6 votes

How bad are nylon and polyester clothing for the environment?

Summary: Nylon, acrylic and especially polyester clothing release lots of microplastics during laundry. For polyester a study found between 6 and 17,7 million microfibers per 5kg wash Microplastics ...
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  • 14k
6 votes
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How does bioplastic recyclability compare with petrochemical-based plastic recyclability?

Conventional plastics All conventional plastics marked with the 1 to 6 resin identification codes are recyclable. Some types are more easy to recycle than others, for example recycling PVC is more ...
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6 votes
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How do plastic bags and other waste end up in the ocean?

Carelessness, wind and rain. Humans are careless, so leave all manner of plastic outside in their yards. A gust of wind catches the plastic and blows it onto a nearby road. It rains, and the ...
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5 votes
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Does polyethylene film (plastic bags) breakdown chemically?

Unless polyethylene has been pretreated during its manufacturing process it is a very obdurate material, being susceptible to degradation by oxidation and UV light. Degradation can occur with chlorine,...
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  • 3,152
5 votes
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What's the impact of throwing plastic in the bin?

The problem with burying plastic in landfills is that plastic takes ~500 years to decompose, and burying large amounts of waste leads to groundwater pollution in the surrounding areas, which is ...
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5 votes
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Plastic incineration vs discarding considerations

Burning trash in an uncontrolled fire is very polluting, with high levels of carbon monoxide, particulates, and dioxin/furan. These are released at ground level where they are easily breathed in by ...
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  • 294
4 votes
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What are the five most widely used consumer products made of recycled plastic?

I think this is a very difficult question to answer, but I'd like to try and see how far I get. Various types of plastic are being recycled for a lot of different purposes. The number of end-products ...
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  • 14k
4 votes

In general, is cardboard with a plastic coating acceptable for recycling?

Paper recycling facilities usually can handle the small amount of plastic that's on a lot of boxes, but the plastic cannot be recycled in the same facility, so cardboard of that type is overall less ...
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4 votes

Recycling plastic food tubs that have no resin identification code?

This needs to be done on a case-by-case basis. Almost anything CAN be recycled if desired, but not always cost effectively or sensibly. Some materials are recycled by some processors and not by others....
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4 votes
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How many times do you need to use a cheap re-usable bag to offset its impact?

Summary: According to this independent study if you look at global warming potential, for a sturdy LDPE bag you need to use it at least 4 times, for an even sturdier non-woven PP bag with inserts it's ...
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  • 14k
4 votes

Organic or packaging free food?

It's all a matter of how you do the counting! If you take into account how much diversity you destroy, non-organic food is worse than "too much" cardboard packaging. But how do you count this? Life ...
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  • 1,365
4 votes

How many times can plastic be recycled?

HDPE plastic is usually shredded, melted and then pelletized where the pellets are then used to create new HDPE products. It can theoretically be recycled indefinitely except that usually ...
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4 votes

What is the most sustainable packaging for milk?

You forgot about a fourth option: The tube. Originally it looked like this: It was a bit flimsy and is easier punctured than the TetraPaks, so it isn't produced anymore (at least not in Germany, at ...
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  • 547
4 votes
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Are single-use PurPod coffee pods from Ethical Bean made with PLA?

The picture says 'made from coffee chaff & plant-based material', so there is something else in the pod besides just coffee chaff. After some digging I finally found this blog where it says that: ...
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  • 14k
4 votes

Is there a solution for flattening/reducing the volume of plastic recyclables in the home?

Sometimes, the simplest solutions are the best: Step on plastics to crush them - Crude, but efficient, and good for stuff like takeaway food containers, PET bottles (with lids removed), plastic cups, ...
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