FINALLY – the Truth about Plastics & the Environment
By Dr. Chris DeArmitt FRSC
World-class plastic materials scientist
Your Questions Answered
Q. Should we get rid of plastics because they are bad for the environment?
Q. Should we replace PET bottles with aluminum cans or glass bottles?
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?
Q. Do plastics take 1000 years to degrade?
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?
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. Should we replace plastics because they create a waste problem?
Q. Should we ban plastics because they cause litter?
Q. Do plastics items harm marine wildlife?
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. A lifecycle analysis professional examined all 24 studies on plastic 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?
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 a real problem?
A. No. They found LEGO on one beach in England and claimed it was a general problem. In fact, that is the only place LEGO is found on beaches because of a well-known ship accident that dropped a million LEGO pieces there.
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. Did scientists pull a plastic straw out of a sea turtle’s nose??
A. There is no evidence that they did. 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.