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Policymakers continue to miss the boat when it comes to plastics and proactive solutions to combat litter and clean up the environment — even as data continues to prove them wrong.
Bans and taxes on single-use plastics are the order of the day based on the assumption that it’s worth paying more to save resources and the environment. But as long as these products don’t end up as litter or in the ocean — problems that can be addressed without bans — more affordable, single-use plastics often have a better environmental profile than their alternatives.
The lower price of plastics reflects the fact that they require fewer resources — less energy, less water, and less raw materials — to make than the alternatives. For example, paper straws are as much as 10-times more expensive than plastic straws, according to packaging company PacknWood CEO Adam Merran. That’s because paper uses more resources associated with harvesting of timber, transporting materials, and processing it into a final product than does plastics.
In comparison, the raw materials for plastics are chemical byproducts of fossil fuel production, basically making waste products into valuable goods. They don’t require farming, mining, or harvesting for production. In addition, plastics are lighter in weight than many alternatives, so their transport is much more energy efficient, reducing costs further.
Yet for some reason, most policymakers don’t understand basic economics. Fortunately, there are other tools that can help them understand, such as life-cycle assessments (LCA). LCAs consider each product’s environmental impact from cradle (production) to grave (disposal), and they provide solid data policymakers should heed before banning plastics. These studies validate what price signals already illustrate: Lower priced plastic products have smaller environmental footprints than their alternatives.
Consider plastic grocery bags: They are far less bulky than paper bags, which means you can transport more bags in fewer trucks — saving energy, making less air pollution, and eventually requiring less landfill space than paper bags. According to one plastic bag retailer, if his company switched to paper bags to meet a state ban on plastic bags, he would need four- to eight-times more warehouse space to store them and would have to fill four to eight more trucks to deliver them.
Statistics developed from LCAs quantify these values. According to a 2008 Progressive Bag Alliance study: Single-use polyethylene plastic grocery bags use 71 percent less energy than paper bags; paper bags require 96 percent more water; paper makes about 86 percent more solid waste than single-use grocery bags; and single-use grocery bags generate 39 percent fewer greenhouse gas emissions than regular paper bags.
Only when reusable bags are used many times do they yield any net environmental benefit, and few people use them long enough. For example, a 2019 RECYC-QUÉBEC study noted that cotton bags are “not recommended,” as they require “between 100 and 2,954 uses for its environmental impact to be equivalent to the environmental impacts of the conventional plastic bag.”
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University of Victoria chemistry professor and researcher Martin Hocking produced a seminal LCA regarding polystyrene foam cups, finding that, as with grocery bags, alternatives must be used many times more before they have a lower environmental impact. For example, a reusable ceramic cup must be used 1,006 times, a glass cup 393 times, and reusable hard plastic cup 450 times before any one of these products can match the environmental performance of the foam cup. So, a reusable cup could potentially be better, but if it’s likely to break or be thrown away before those many uses, it is worse for the environment than a foam cup.
The excellent environmental performance related to a foam cup’s much lower resource use is also reflected in a much lower price. In fact, when New York City considered banning foam cups in 2013, an MB Public Affairs, Inc. economic impact study showed it would cost businesses as much as $100 million a year to switch to paper cups.
The cacophony of calls for plastics bans regularly belie the reality that plastics products play a crucial role in conserving energy and water, reduce environmental impacts when compared to alternatives, and are less expensive for consumers. Until state and local governments wake up to the fact that mounting life-cycle studies that consistently confirm such realities, their misguided “solutions” will continue to damage the environment — and do so with a hefty price tag.
Dr. Angela Logomasini is a senior fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute and the author of “How Plastics Benefit Wildlife and the Environment.” Article cross-posted from Real Clear Policy. Photo by FLY:D on Unsplash.
Plandemic, Voter Fraud, Afghanistan: All Parts of The Great Reset
If you still consider “conspiracy theorist” to be a pejorative, you’re not paying enough attention.
What do Covid-19, 2020 (and beyond) election fraud, and our disastrous abandoning of American citizens in Afghanistan have to do with one another? They’re all parts of the globalist plan to usher in a new era of Neo-Marxism in a depopulated world. This is The Great Reset unfolding before our eyes, and the only way we can stop it (other than through constant prayer) is to stand together and spread the truth.
Covid-19’s attachment to The Great Reset is obvious, though we continue to post about it daily. Voter fraud is a bit less obvious but nonetheless easy to recognize when we understand that people like Joe Biden, Justin Trudeau, and Emmanuel Macron are pushing to “Build Back Better” under the precepts of Neo-Marxism.
The Afghanistan betrayal in August, 2021, is harder to associate with The Great Reset, but it’s definitely just as attached. We can see this is the unwillingness of the Biden regime to extend the deadline to withdraw despite American lives put clearly in harm’s way. We can see it in the needlessly abandoned military equipment that was conspicuously left intact; disabling a Black Hawk takes minutes but they were given to the Taliban in pristine working condition. Then, there’s the pallets of hundred dollar bills left for them. If you think all of this was just irresponsible governance, you probably think Barack Obama is out of politics, too.
Weakening America’s standing in the world and empowering the Chinese Communist Party and others to engage fully with our enemies in a globalist cabal are beneficial to the architects of The Great Reset, and both happened in one fell swoop in August.
These truths need to be spread. As a conservative network of news outlets, we are swimming upstream against the forces of mainstream media. We are getting canceled across the board by Big Tech. We will continue to spread the truth to millions, but we desperately need help to spread the truth to a wider range of people. This is where you come in.
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We Often Feel Like David Taking on Giants
Today’s Goliath is the Mainstream Media Industrial Complex that brainwashes the masses.
Our mission is very straightforward: To counter the false narratives and nefarious agendas destroying America today. It isn’t easy for obvious reasons; despite incredible growth over the last year we are still a very tiny fish in a huge media pond. But we’re fighting and we will continue to do so, Lord willing, for as long as we possibly can. The battle for America’s present and future is too important for us to back down to the giants that stand in our way.
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