FINALLY - the Truth about Plastics & the Environment

By Dr. Chris DeArmitt FRSC

World-class plastic materials scientist

As seen on…

Everything we know about plastics is nothing more than internet gossip – and it’s untrue. The headlines and articles we read are not supported by science and evidence. I know because I’ve spent over 1000 hours reading the peer-reviewed science and it tells a very different story. If you truly care about the environment, then please read the science collected here on this site.

This site is by a career scientist who has spent over 1000 hours reading hundreds of scientific articles and reports to make sure that the facts are solid. I found that almost everything we’ve been told is utter nonsense and is soundly disproven by the science.

I don’t care if people are against plastics based on the facts, but at present people are against plastics based on clear, unsubstantiated lies. That’s a problem because we need to start with the truth if we are going to make wise decisions for a brighter future. If you care, then please look at the evidence and then decide. If you don’t, then you will be harming the environment by making poor choices.

Some reviews for the Plastics Paradox…

 
“The best book about sustainability in our lifetime”
“Pure Accuracy from a Real Expert!”
“Don’t be afraid to learn the truth”
“Thank you Chris DeArmitt! The world needs this kind of information before we make harmful choices based on current versions of the truth”

SAY GOODBYE TO  BAD INFORMATION

There’s no nice way to put this – we have all been lied to. This book ruthlessly exposes those lies by presenting the facts collected from over 400 scientific articles…

  • Lie #1 Plastics last 1000 years
  • Lie #2 Plastics create a waste problem
  • Lie #3 Plastics cause litter
  • Lie #4 Plastics aren’t green

 

Aired on WHYY – click the icon to listen

Your Questions Answered

Q. Should we get rid of plastics and are they bad for the environment?

A. No, according to scientific studies, plastics are usually the greenest option. They are better for the environment than metal, glass, cotton and usually paper, so replacing plastic harms the environment. Plus, getting rid of plastics would be terrible – no internet, no cell phones, no computers, no medical devices, no electricity to our homes, and so on.

Q. Should we replace PET bottles with aluminum cans or glass bottles?

A. No. Studies show that PET is far greener than aluminium cans or glass bottles. Replacing PET would harm the environment – more energy & waste plus the release of far more carbon dioxide. See data here.

Q. Are there huge floating islands of plastic in the ocean?

A. No. There are no such islands, “patches” or “soup”. There are areas where plastics concentrate but levels are so low, you can’t even tell if you are sailing or swimming there. Click here to see the the full story.

Q. Should we switch to biodegradable materials?

A. No. Biodegradable plastics are less green than standard plastics and when they degrade, they release large amounts of carbon dioxide.

Q. Do plastics take 1000 years to degrade?

A. No. Plastics degrade just like all carbon-based materials like wood and leaves. Experiments prove that a plastic bag disintegrates in less than one year outdoors. Click here for more information on plastics degradation.

Q. Will there be more plastic than fish in the sea by 2050?

A. No. This was debunked (see BBC article).

Q. Are the oil industry pushing plastics onto the market to save themselves from declining sales?

A. No. If you increase supply of a commodity, like plastics, the price drops and you lose money. It makes no business sense to artificially increase the supply.

Q. Are there 100,000 microplastic particles per gram of fruit and vegetables?

A. No. When you read the study you find they didn’t detect any plastic at all. It is a shamefully poor piece of science and it has been reported to the publisher for retraction. Click here for more information on microplastics.

Q. Should we use more metal & glass because they are recycled at a higher rate?

A. No. Metal and glass are terrible for the environment. The solution is to keep increasing recycling rates for plastic, which many countries have already done.

Q. Is the Grand Canyon drowning in microplastic dust?

A. No. This article says that 10-20 tons of plastic dust is deposited on the Grand Canyon per year. That sounds like a lot, so I checked and the total dust landing on the Grand Canyon is 50 000 tons per year meaning plastic is just 0.03% of the total. A little perspective goes a long way! source: Atmospheric Dust Deposition Varies by Season and Elevation in the Colorado Front Range, USA Also they found that the natural dust is enriched in heavy metals like lead and cadmium. It also contains large amounts of quartz, which is proven to cause cancer.

Q. Are microplastics the only particles found in the placenta?

A. No – it is well-known that particles get into the placenta. For example, studies show that titanium dioxide, carbon black and silica have all been found. It is interesting that microplastics in the placenta generated such interest whereas no-one had any interest in the other particles. Surely, these are all of equal concern. Sources: Silica and Titanium Dioxide Nanoparticles Cause Pregnancy Complications in MiceAmbient black carbon particles reach the fetal side of human placentaBasal Ti level in the human placenta and meconium and evidence of a materno-foetal transfer of food-grade TiO2 nanoparticles in an ex vivo placental perfusion model

Q. Is it true that Henderson Island is overwhelmed with plastic pollution?

A. No – although it has been claimed that the remote island is covered in plastic on the beaches, GoogleMaps satellite images show that the beaches are clean. Click here to see for yourself and see the screenshot below.

Henderson Island Clean Beach Without Plastic

Q. Should we replace plastics because they create a waste problem?

A. No. Plastics are less that 0.5% of all waste and they are proven to reduce overall waste creation. Replacing plastics means creating 3-4x more waste for every pound of plastic replaced.

Q. Should we ban plastics because they cause litter?
A. No. The scientific evidence shows that people are the cause of litter, not materials. To stop litter, we need to encourage better human behaviour via education and legislation.
Q. Do plastics items harm marine wildlife?

A. Abandoned nets in particular cause harm. However, replacing plastic nets with rope nets does not solve the problem. The problem is people who abandon nets, not plastic.

Q. Should we ban plastic bags?

A. No. Plastic bags are the greenest alternative (see details here). Changing to paper bags means cutting down millions more trees per year, more carbon dioxide released & generating up to 10x more waste. A lifecycle analysis professional examined all 24 studies on bags and concluded:

“From all 24 reports and reviews assessed, the actual LCA analyses on grocery bags overwhelmingly point to plastic as the material with least environmental impact, both at single use level and multi-purpose.”

Neil Shackelton – Founder, Medoola

Q. Do plastics consume huge amounts of fossil fuel?
A. No. Only 4-5% of oil is used to make plastics and the plastics save more than that by reducing the weight of our cars, by thermally insulating buildings and by using less energy to make than other materials.
Q. Does the USA consume 500 million straws per day?

A. No. That number was made up by a 9 year old schoolboy named Milo Cress. The press repeated it without thinking to check it first.

Q. Is LEGO washing up on beaches really a problem?

A. No. They found LEGO on a beach in England where a well-known ship accident dropped a million LEGO pieces.

Q. Did a study find microplastics in human tissue?

A. No. They actually said that there was not microplastic inside the tissue but was passing through organs like the liver designed to filtered particles out of the body: “The 47 samples were taken from lungs, liver, spleen and kidneys –– four organs likely to be exposed to, filter or collect microplastics.”

Q. Was a plastic straw pulled out of a sea turtle’s nose??

A. There is no evidence that it was. They never checked to see if the object was made of plastic. In the video they described it as a “worm”. There was never a peer-reviewed publication on it either so this story is hearsay at best.

Q. Do plastics increase carbon dioxide emissions?

A. Studies show that although some CO2 is given off making plastics, overall they reduce carbon dioxide by 1. massively reducing food waste 2. massively reducing gasoline consumption of vehicles 3. reducing use of coal, gas and oil for heating through their thermal  insulating properties. Studies that only look at the CO2 given off while making plastic are therefore very misleading. Lastly, it is important to note that plastic replacements like paper, metal and glass give off vastly more CO2 when produced.

Q. Are the plastics we use releasing toxic chemicals?

A. Plastics themselves cannot release anything because polymer molecules are too large to move around. Additives in plastics can be released but all additives are strictly regulated. Any additives found to be cause for concern are banned. It is also worth remembering that apples, pears, apricots, bananas and even wood release toxic chemicals such as formaldehyde and yet, as with plastics, the levels are too low to be of concern.

Q. Is it true that we eat a credit card's worth of plastic per week?

A. No. The article actually says “humans may ingest 0.1 to 5 g of microplastics weekly”, (5g is one credit card in weight) but only people who consume nothing but bottled water would ingest these amounts of the FDA food contact approved plastic. A more recent study Lifetime Accumulation of Microplastic in Children and Adults said that the amount of microplastic consumed is negligible (well under 0.004% of the inorganic particles we ingest).

Book Speaking Engagements:

  • Have an independent expert explain to your customers why plastics are the solution and not the problem
  • Chris can make your employees proud to work with plastics, rather than be ashamed
  • Dr. DeArmitt can help you push back against unjust attacks on your company
  • Showing the evidence can convince owners and shareholders that your company is on the right course
  • Presenting the science can help change public opinion and government policy

 

More reviews for the Plastics Paradox…

“This book gives the honest and upfront truths about material choices and the environmental impacts of those choices. It offers multiple sources and angles to provide a comprehensive yet easy to read insight into our current trend of plastic-bashing and the future issues this will cause. I’d highly recommend a read if you want to be informed on this subject.”
“A colleague just gifted me a copy of Dr. Chris DeArmitt’s new book, the Plastics Paradox.  This is the most cogent, comprehensive, and courageous analysis of plastics and the environment that I have ever read.  Easy to read, easy to understand, and easy to cross reference and fact check.  Ruthlessly agnostic in the application of scientific rigor to the problems of plastics in the environment.  This book should be an essential part of every plastic professional’s training and preparation.” Bill Duelge – CTO BottleOne