I vent sometimes on Twitter. Earlier this month, I ran a Twitter poll and learned how hard it is to write an unambiguous multiple choice question.
Is plastic petroleum?
Of the 164 votes,
- 72.6% chose "Yes, duh"
- 3% chose "No"
- 4.3% chose "Don't know"
- 20.1% chose "Not enough info to answer"
I started to write an explanation for the answer, but it became quite a long thread. Since it took so much research and time, it deserves to be put up on the blog.Until 2 years ago, I didn’t know that materials scientists consider plastic a property instead of a material. You can make plastic from all sorts of polymers that are soft when warm and rigid when cooled. Eg potato starch plastic. 2/
THE DYSFUNCTION OF PLASTICS RECYCLING Plastics recycling, as it exists today, is a mess. In 2015, the US recycled only 9.1% of the 31 million t of plastics that consumers threw out, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. The vast majority ended up in either landfills or incinerators. In contrast, two-thirds of paper, a third of metals, and a quarter of glass were recycled that year. In the European Union, about 14.8% of the roughly 27 million t of plastic waste was recycled in 2016, according to the European Commission.But, there's active research into using enzymes to break down plastic back to its pre-polymerized raw feedstock shape. About 40% of it will remain, but it can be turned into low-sulfur diesel fuel--not a bad fuel for long distance trucking or ocean-going cargo ships which operate away from urban areas.
Tackling the climate and air pollution crises requires curbing all motorised transport, particularly private cars, as quickly as possible. Focusing solely on electric vehicles is slowing down the race to zero emissions.