FINALLY – the Truth about Plastics & the Environment

By Dr. Chris DeArmitt FRSC

World-class plastic materials scientist

Your Questions

 

 

 

Answered Here!

 

 

 

Q. Should we get rid of plastics because they are 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. Replacing plastic harms the environment.

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 release of far more carbon dioxide).

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

A. No. There are no such islands. There are areas where plastics concentrate but levels are so low, you can’t even tell if you are sailing or swimming there.

Q. Should we switch to biodegradable materials?

A. No. Biodegradable materials are less green than 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.

Q. Will the 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 increase the supply.

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

A. No. Plastics are just 11-13% of all waste and they are proven to reduce overall waste creation. Replacing plastics means creating 3-4x more waste.

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. Yes, abandoned nets in particular cause harm. However, replacing plastic nets with rope nets does not solve the problem. The problem is nets, not plastic.

Q. Should we ban plastic bags?

A. No. Every study shows plastic bags are the greenest alternative. Changing to paper bags means cutting down millions more trees per year, more carbon dioxide released & generating up to 10x more waste.

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.

Got a question? Let me know…