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August 05, 2009

Polymer technology used to improve beer!

Beer Now here is a plastics application worth toasting. According to this BBC report and others, researchers at the Technical University of Dortmund, in Germany, led by Borje Sellergren have invented a process using 'molecularly imprinted polymers' to remove riboflavin (B2) from beer and other drinks.

Turns out that the riboflavin is what reacts with sunlight to cause poor shelf life and stale beer. Now by producing a clever molecular 'trap' they can remove the riboflavin before shipment.

AlphaGalileo reports "An important transition [for molecularly imprinted polymers] from being artificial receptors used in laboratory applications to being scrubbers capable of selectively removing unwanted, toxic or irritating compounds from many types of consumer products" - Nicholas Snow, Seton Hall University, South Orange, US

They actually form the polymer against real riboflavin molecules, then once the riboflavin is removed, you have a proper molecular trap for that particular thing.

Also, from AlphaGalileo, Antonio Martín-Esteban an expert in analytical applications of molecularly imprinted polymers at the National Institute for Agriculture and Food Research and Technology, Madrid, Spain, comments that Sellergren's polymer formation strategy 'is so simple and effective that it will most likely become routinely incorporated in the synthesis of a new generation of improved water-compatible imprinted polymers'.

August 04, 2009

Guk keeps slipping between the server cracks

Shake until the slosh, slosh becomes thump, thump...

Guk In 1994 one of the wildly popular pages we hosted was our proprietary slime formula which we fondly named... GUK! This page was always one of the most heavily trafficed, but every time a server upgrade occurred, it seems the slime page slipped off into the unknown.

Perhaps someone in IT, long gone, lacked a sense of humor.

Now, for once, it has slipped INTO an appearance instead of away. While posting our original 1994 web site Poly-Links, as a historical oddity for those that like that sort of stuff, we also re-posted the 'original' slime page with the GUK formula!

While this formula remains in our forums, it is sort of hidden there. So without further ado, may I present the one, the only, the original GUK page!

Note: the formula still works, is well time tested.  The science is explained, along with some other weird chemistry items BUT we take no responsibility for anyone who eats the GUK or stains a shirt! You're all on your own here.  But I did always have fun with this with the kids!

August 03, 2009

Plastics Internet History - Polylinks

Polylinks circa 1994 Harken back to yesteryear again, this time for Poly-Links!

Poly-Links is plastics.com's grandfather (polymers.com is the father) and was the very first plastics portal or plastics community ever.

While rummaging through our archives I came across an almost intact version of our very first site, Poly-Links. And I came across our 'exact' birthday, November 7th, 1994. Previously we only had this date down to the month of Nov. Now we can hold a proper birthday party. You're all invited.

Poly-Links predated all other plastics sites except for an uploaded set of images from the GE Plastics brochure. At first it linked engineering links and polymer academics as they were the only useful links around, but it grew quickly.

Poly-Links, which was renamed polymers.com in 1995, then plastics.com in 2000, and predated all other plastics pioneers; polysort, plasticsnet, etc.

Modeled like an early day yahoo, it was clean and simple. Of humorous note, we even had foreign 'mirror sites' because international internet connections were tenuous and very slow at the time!

In any event, we put it back online for those archivists and plastics historians who want to... 'Harken Back to yesteryear' circa 1994.

July 31, 2009

Living a Lego Life

Thanks for the following to Barbara Ortner over at ICIS. These bare repeating...

First - Living Legos

Brit to build in, and live albeit temporarily, a plastic house built of LEGOs! As part of his BBC series 'Toy Stories', James May will build a two story Lego house and live in it for a couple of days!

He needs bricks, ha, no surprise there.

Why didn't Lego think of this?

We'll try to report on construction with photos as it goes on. Can't wait to see it.

Second - Mating molecules?

My only question is... Is it a joke or for real? It sure looks scientific to me, really, go see the link.



July 09, 2009

Plastic: What is it good for? Chris Jordan Speaks

Hi Readers,
For those following the ongoing dialogue between plastics.com and anti-plastics activists I'm posting a great reply received by email which for some technical reason wouldn't post as a comment from him.  He has some well thought out comments and after his reply I'll post mine as well.

Since Beth Terry's audience and ours are very different, I'm cross posting some of the comments to be sure they;'re seen from both sides.

See these posts AND make sure to click on the comments as well:


Chris Jordan's Reply...

Hello Greg, greetings from Seattle. I'm an artist and cultural activist who appreciates your posting here.

I think of myself as an anti-plastics activist (among other things) and I have personally met hundreds of anti-plastics activists all over the world. But I have never met anyone who is rabidly anti-all-plastics as you characterize most activists to be.

The few activists who are totally anti-plastics would have to live in denial of the fact that we all benefit enormously from living with plastics. A simple example: as I write this message, my fingers are typing on a well-designed and durable plastic keyboard; I'm looking at a computer monitor that is loaded with plastic components (including the screen I’m reading); I'm sitting in a comfy Aeron chair that's about 90% plastic.

We Americans all live like this, and we all recognize the many benefits of plastic. The whole set of arguments that the plastic companies like to make about how great plastic is, miss our point entirely, because the vast majority of plastic activism has very little to do with plastic computer keyboards or Aeron chairs.

The kinds of plastic we rage against are the same kinds that you disparage in your posting above: wasteful, disposable plastics that have no real value in our culture, and that are causing harm to the environment and people in numerous ways that we are still discovering. To be specific: plastic soda bottles, plastic water bottles, plastic bags, disposable plastic toys, plastic packaging of all kinds, plastic cups, plastic juice bottles, plastic eating utensils, plastic take-out containers, and all the other cheap plastic junk that didn’t exist just a few years ago and that could be eliminated without any significant sacrifice to humanity.

That is the kind of plastic that the vast majority of activists are trying to put a stop to. I think it's great that you don't like that kind of plastic either-- and you even believe that using wasteful plastic packaging should be a crime. That's the kind of thing we activists like to say!

One reason there is so much emotion involved in the activism community is that many activists have the perception that the few chemical company executives who are personally making billions from manufacturing and selling this kind of stuff do not hold the beliefs that you set out above. I wish you were speaking for the plastic industry in your posting, but you are not. Not by a long shot. As far as I can tell, the small community of billionaires who run the big chemical companies are lost in a fog of ego-driven personal greed. They care more about the game of power and big business than they care about the well-being of our world, and this drives them to make decisions that more awake people around the globe consider to be atrocious.

For example, they invest millions in marketing campaigns designed to make problems like the Pacific Garbage Patch look innocuous, so they can continue profiting a little longer from the harmful junk they produce. These are the same types of people as the oil company executives who invested millions hiring quack scientists to make global warming look innocuous so that oil consumption would not decline. The only kind of person who would do this is someone who is driven by fear and greed. Someone who lack emotional depth and complexity, compassion for others, and any kind of spiritual connection with the earth. I know this because I was like that once myself, as a corporate attorney who represented insurance companies and big oil interests.

With the help of a good therapist, I made it over from the dark side, but not everyone does. Plenty of people unknowingly stay stuck and lost in the machinations of fear and ego for their whole lives, and unfortunately many of them are politicians or executives at giant corporations. These people hold tremendous power over enormous resources, and collectively they are fostering the continued ruination of the world that we activists hold sacred. This is an incredibly frightening and destructive situation that brings out a deep rage in those of us who care about our world and can see what is happening to it.

These guys hold onto shallow justifications for their actions, refusing to take responsibility (and the opportunity) for making our world a better place from an authentically altruistic position. One example is a common position they take: “we just produce what the public demands, and when the public demands environmentally responsible products, we will produce them.” It’s a lame argument that is transparently motivated by the desire to delay changing. Apple Computer didn't wait for the public to "demand" an iPhone; Toyota didn't wait for the public to "demand" the Prius; the Lego company didn’t wait for children to “demand” the best toy ever invented. Those companies put millions of dollars behind their most creative engineering resources to develop something new and exciting that the public couldn't even imagine. Similarly, the plastics companies should not wait until the public "demands" environmentally responsible plastics; the companies should be investing billions in inventing them because it is simply the right thing to do.

And by the way, the public is already demanding environmentally responsible actions with respect to plastic. On the global stage, the United Nations chief environmental officer has called for the plastic bags globally. And on a more local level, here in Seattle our City Council recently passed a new law attempting to reduce the use of thin-film disposable plastic bags. The chemical companies’ response was to invest $200,000 in a campaign to get the law changed back, so they can keep selling and profiting from plastic bag production in our area. That’s what happens when the public demands something from the big companies that doesn’t involve increased profits: stonewalling, pushback, lawsuits, and sleazy marketing campaigns.

If the guys who run the big chemical companies could honestly come around to the views that you set out in your posting, and put their millions into authentic and responsible engineering and marketing programs to help the public end its addiction to disposable and single-use plastics, then most of us plastic activists would celebrate with joy. The executives themselves would experience a revelation too: coming out of the bubble of fear that drives their lust for power and money is a good thing; it is liberating, exciting, connective, and good for the soul. It leads to happiness and fulfillment, two things that are sadly lacking in the hearts of too many powerful corporate leaders. These companies could lawfully and successfully turn their resources toward ethically responsible tasks such as eliminating single-use plastics worldwide, and the people who did it would reap the personal rewards far greater value than they ever imagined.

But I don't see that happening anytime soon. Do you?

With best regards from Seattle,

~chris jordan


Greg from plastics.com replies to Chris...

Hey Chris and all,

First, please let me appreciate your art out loud, it is awesome and so thought provoking, great stuff!

I appreciate all of your comments, read it all carefully.

Gyre-wordle.net-4-30-2009 10-49-20 AM To your first point on the rabidly anti-plasts. They're out there, anyone who thinks we'd be better off with no plastics in the world falls into that category. They're the ones who worry me (as you noted, we agree on much) mainly because they're not informed. When I speak one on one with most and describe a world without plastics they almost all agree with me that it has become an essential material for many things.

(Word Cloud Image made from wordle.net)

When a plastics professional comes across a true hater of all plastics, they'll tend to dismiss that person and their viewpoint. When they come across reasonable viewpoints about health and waste they are un-dismissible and tend to be taken seriously.

I believe in our capitalist system, but it isn't without it's blemishes. Your comments about greedy execs really applies to virtually all publically held stock companies. Those execs have one concern over all others... stock prices. It's the nature of the system. Replace all the execs and all the new execs will find they have the same motivation.

So even I (the libertarian leaner) see we need government to ride herd on these guys. Government is really the only entity that can provide alternative motivations to these guys. through taxes, credits and regulations that make/force the stock companies to comply.

Large corps will only do what they are forced to do and whats good for themselves. Even when they do good, its for the goodwill they'll collect.

I'm generalizing, there are exceptions, but I believe its mostly quite accurate.

I think pretty much, appealing to public companies is idealistic and not likely to result in much change. The effective course, to me, is to grow your numbers and appeal to politicians.

And I think addressing the public to engage about wasteful consumption will be more effective than convincing companies to not make plastic disposables.

Anyway, just my opinion on tactics to help us achieve less waste, better health.

Chris, thanks again for your art.

ps; Beth may be worried I don't want my full name published, but I don't mind :-) It's Greg Koski, plastics.com, come visit us, ALL polite viewpoints are welcome. (An industry person, not a industry spokesperson)

July 9, 2009 5:10 AM

July 08, 2009

Plastic: What is it good for? Absolutely Lots!

Image from fakeplasticfish.com
My anti-plastics environmentalist friend, Beth Terry in her plastics waste costume!

OK, so I'm engaged with the 'anti-plastics' environmental movement. Typically, the people who HATE plastics. I observe this group because their strong feelings have the potential to do the industry harm AND because so many of their facts are not true or highly distorted. That said, I found one anti-plastics person whom I like. Beth Terry from fakeplasticfish.com.

While committed to her cause, she isn't all wrapped up in the 'hate' emotion I see from many. We had a great discussion the other day which she blogged about briefly and she asked her readers seven questions related to the topics we discussed.

So I thought I'd answer her questions from my perspective as an industry person. Keep in mind our site is not paid to promote plastics, but as an individual I've been very active and concerned regarding these issues. I worked in recycling for many years, patented and commercialized a recycle process, and was an original founder of the SPE Recycling Division (Now the Environmental Division).

What do you see as the major problems with plastic?

  • Bad product design (wasteful)
  • Ocean gyre issues
  • Inadequate of industry-led solution activity
  • Littered plastics hang around
  • Recycling is at odds with bio-degradable
  • Wasteful use of plastics (ie. packaging)

What uses for plastic (if any) are necessary and beneficial to society?

Herein is one of the misconceptions many activists have.  I don't like a no-plastics discussion because they usually seem based in severe ignorance of facts. I love a plastics versus other-material discussion because nothing should be made out of plastic without good reasons.

The fact is that with today's population level and technology level, plastics are not just needed but are required to maintain civilization without going back to a pre-industrial era or without doing WORSE harm to the environment.

So we don't (most of us) really want to get rid of plastics. We want them used responsibly and with care towards the environment and waste.

Would you like to see a world without any plastic at all? What would that look like?

This is my biggest point for simple 'anti-plasts'. What do you think is the alternative? If you want to go back to a pre-industrial era, so be it, but with today's population most of us will die from starvation and disease.

If you simply want to make everything out of anything BUT plastics and live happily ever after, it simply isn't possible.  The absolute fact is that if most things that are made of plastic were made of alternative materials, it would cause massive pollution, have huge global warming effects and would lessen the quality of life of virtually everyone.

The reason things are made of plastics is almost always this: it's cheaper. We don't care about that, its just businesses getting rich, BUT, the reason plastics are cheaper than alternatives is because they use less overall energy than the alternatives. Now this HAS to interest us.

When a product uses significantly less energy to manufacture, distribute and use then it also uses less oil, gas etc. to produce (less pollution), less oil, gas, etc. to distribute (less pollution), and less oil, gas, etc. to use (less pollution).

An example; automobiles. Many plastic parts in an auto replace MULTIPLE metal parts with one part with the energy to make ALL of the previous parts being much more energy-wasteful than the one plastic part. I can't barely imagine a car without plastics other than a primitive, heavy monster.  Now for the distribution, plastics cars weigh less than the alternatives and everything made has to be shipped. The shipping of ALL manufactured goods has a huge effect on pollution and it is weight and volume based. The less wight or volume, the less pollution created in the shipping stages.  Lastly in usage, an auto that is much lighter due to plastics uses less fuel. Less fuel means less pollution.

This example repeats itself over and over with virtually all use of plastics. Less pollution (energy) to make, ship and use than the alternatives.

So can we do without plastics? Not without making things worse. I'd like to see intelligent debates of plastics versus alternatives, not just anti-plastics. What is better on a case by case basis then multiplied by the entire population doing it?

A world without plastics would require unbelievably massive amounts of additional animals for leather, wool, etc and plants, for cotton and so on. And the effect ALL of the additional animals raised and grazing and forests cut down for crop land is staggering. I saw someone do the math once and it occurs to me that no environmentalist should be anti-plastics for just this reason.  We either cut way back on population and go to a sustainable civilization based on lower technology or we find responsible ways to use plastics and solve environmental issues.

Do you trust the plastics industry to tell you the truth about their products? Why or why not?

Well, personally I don't trust governments or large corporations to tell the truth always. There's too many instances of the opposite to have blind faith. Also, most plastics organizations have an agenda to promote and protect themselves. It's good to have a healthy skepticism.

Do you trust the American Chemistry Council to tell you the truth?

Same answer, see above

What questions would you ask a plastics professional if you could?

This happens everytime I talk to myself!

What role do you think the plastics industry should play in solving the environmental problems associated with plastic?

A leading role, and right now I see way too much defense of indefensible positions and simply promotional campaigns designed to make you appreciate plastics. Bah! The industry needs to admit the serious environmental and health issues, help study them and develop solutions.  Companies do this when there is a profit motive but the industry as a whole seems to be all deny, deny, defend, defend. I don't see much of an effort to acknowledge and lead here.

What else would you like to share?

Summaries. questions, replies to Beth's commenters, facts or opinions not covered

  • Plastics will be made in the future with algae, bacteria, plants, etc. Running out of oil is not a plastics future problem.
  • Wasteful use of plastics, think packaging,ought to be a crime. There is nothing defensible about idiotic design using copious amounts of plastic that just gets tossed.
  • There are applications where alternatives are preferred over plastics. Approach it on a case by case basis as to what is responsible, what is better than alternatives.
  • Beth and I agree that wasteful design and wasteful consumption of plastics is a very bad thing.
  • Plastics should not be used when an alternative that scales up to the population is environmentally better.
  • I think ALL material choices need to be defensible environmentally versus alternatives, not just for profit or other benefits
  • Tameson, you can't fix the ocean gyre problem by simply fishing for plastic as most of it is tiny and you'd get plankton as well.
  • Tameson, plastics aren't more biodegradable or recyclable because enough of the public isn't demanding it. I recommend demanding it rather than just saying 'Plastics are Bad'
  • May, a world without plastics is not as simply as 'look back at old photos' because the population has grown to a point where the alternatives are worse for us now.

June 04, 2009

Plastics.com NPE News

Wow! I missed May completely! I miss it when I don't find time to blog, must fix that.

Today's note is simply some news and links on the upcoming NPE 2009.  Plastics.com has a booth in the West Building, Booth 113029.

Several of our partners will be at the NPE as well:

click here to return to the NPE Community Main Page
click here to return to the NPE Discussions Index Page

Please be sure to visit our plastics.com partners at the NPE and tell them plastics.com sent you! And see plastics.com, right next to MFG.com!

SABIC Innovative Plastics
Booth 123011

Booth 71006

A. Routsis Associates
South Building Booth 8022

Booth 114031

Jyoti Plastic Works
Booth West 103039

Polysmart Technologies
Booth West 103039

click here to return to the NPE Community Main Page
click here to return to the NPE Discussions Index Page

April 22, 2009

An Earth Day Post Plastics-Haters MUST READ!

I like to blog about way out there plastics, like plastics from algae, and I like to write about industry trends but my favorite topic is addressing poor misguided folks who think we need to eliminate plastics from our lives.

With that in mind, today's blog is dedicated to EARTH DAY!


Fat people cause global warming

I knew it! Now I'm not against fat people, but according to the UK Sun they are selfishly causing global warming problems. They equate being fat with driving a gas guzzling SUV.  The study by Dr Edwards and colleague Ian Roberts is published in the International Journal of Epidemiology.

"The scientists say providing extra grub for them to guzzle adds to carbon emissions that heat up the world, melting polar ice caps, raising sea levels and killing rain forests."

Should we round them all up? Unless Global Warming isn't even real, then we can leave them alone.

UPDATE:Nalgene no longer sells water bottles made with Bisphenol A. Number 7 as a plastic type means any plastic that is not in the first six, so having number 7 on the bottom does not necessarily mean that it contains BPA.

Stainless Steel vs. Plastic Water Bottles

Great blog by Doug Smock on this issue. According to the NY Times factual, scientific (cough,cough) report, Stainless is better environmentally than plastic. But they use such shoddy math and faulty logic that someone should be arrested. This is why all these poor people are confused out there. Well meaning but dumb people slant reports to say what they want, thereby causing a panic.

Even they admit:
"One stainless steel bottle is obviously much worse than one plastic bottle."

But they are only comparing a reusable steel bottle to a one use throw away plastic bottle. Even by their own logic, a solid plastic reusable PLASTIC bottle will be better than STAINLESS!!!  Oh, and just get a BPA free bottle to avoid that whole topic.

UPDATE: Nalgene no longer sells water bottles made with Bisphenol A. Number 7 as a plastic type means any plastic that is not in the first six, so having number 7 on the bottom does not necessarily mean that it contains BPA.


Eliminate Plastic in clothing, Use Pet Fur

You know plastics in clothes HAS to be a bad thing right? Even aside from all the dicso polyester clothes jokes, right? We should all be wearing leather shoes and cotton clothes to save the world? WRONG! If everyone did that the deforestation to grow additional crops and grazing land, not to mention all of the extra animal flatulence would be FAR WORSE for the environment than some plastic in our clothes.

But! Don't worry, now their is a solution: make your clothes from pet fur! Hmm, but they look really warm, maybe we won't need clothes at all, what with the global warming and all.

Or we could start a black market in kidnapped dogs for their fur. No more waking up in a bathtub to find your kidney gone. Now your DOG wakes up in a hotel bathtub...naked... shaven clean!  We must do something to protect our pets.  Hmmm, cat fur might make good ear warmers. Here kitty...

Cork tree

Use a Plastic Cork, save a tree, save the globe!

You think a plastic cork MUST be bad for the environment, right? Well tree huggers, what about the tree? Did you know cork is the bark of a Quercus Suber tree and that it is stripped off the living tree painfully, worse than waterboarding! And a tree's bark is its outter-wear, its protection from the elements. And worse, as soon as the bark grows back they strip it off again!  Where is the compassion for these poor tortured trees? Wouldn't a little recyclable plastic be more humane than this!  This tragedy is one of those points that splits the liberal crowd wide open! Which is worse, tree torture or use of a plastic? Maybe we should ask the NY TImes, they'll straighten us out.


From little acorns grow mighty environmentally sound ideas

Now here is a plastic alternative I love. Replacement of Styrofoam with an plant waste based organic alternative! Yes folks, there are plastics alternatives I prefer and here's one. In every possible way this is SOO much better than Styrofoam EPS plastic. Comes from a waste source; ice hulls, corn husks, etc.  Totally biodegradable. Moldable. Not Plastic!  Oh look, now I've done it. I find myself in agreement with the NY Times on an issue! Ugh.


The problem is not your dog lady, the problem is YOU!!!

Now granted this is probably my favorite topic, plastic bags. I'm the first to be anti-litter, I hate it. I loved the Keep America Beautiful ads as a kid that featured the litter surrounded crying indian...errr...native american (sorry).

As Cesar Milan, the dog whisper inevitably says, "the problem is not the dog lady, the problem is you" and so it goes with litter. All of this misguided folks blaming the plastic bag as the evil daemon without so much as a mention to the fact that PEOPLE littered those bags individually or corporately.  The problem is YOU, not the bag.

I'm not FOR the bag, I just strongly dislike the blame being put on the bag instead of on ourselves. Reusable bags? Way to go, all the way, nothing is better. But paper versus plastic bags? A whole essay can be written on how plastic may be environmental better than plastic. That said, you've GOT to see this anti-plastic bag video on you-tube.  It's very well done and persuasive and likely the best tool the plastics haters have ever made. Check it out, for better or worse.


The Great Big Pacific Plastics Garbage Patch

Again, I don't like litter, but the answer is to be anti-litter, not anti-any particular material. One of the largest misconceptions is the alleged giant plastic trash island floating in the pacific. It's a bad thing, no question. My problem is the false impression that is repeatedly made.

Environmentalists have made it sound like it is a giant Sargasso Sea of plastics, so big and thick that you could build on it.  Other than occasional small patches that make for good photography, this plastics patch is actually widely dispersed and not an island or even a contiguous mass of plastic the size of a continent, according to what I've read.  I don't like it, but I dislike the distortion and exaggeration of the story even more, and it makes me doubt everything.  This image, this blog source, accompanies an article titled Garbage Island, but I'd bet anything that the photo is from a landfill, not the ocean.  But the public reads it and imagines this horrific continent of plastic crap, it simply isn't accurate. And again, people are anti-plastic instead of anti-litter, not a peep about that!

Note: I don't like the 'real' ocean plastic garbage patches and I'm even more disappointed by the plastics industry lack of a response to it, but hey, lets tell the truth, not lie about it to scare you.


Good News! Torture no longer needed to make plastics!

I reported earlier that plastic an now be made by physiologically stressing (torture) plump bacteria, turning it into a cool biodegradable plastic.  But the torture thing ate at my karma. Now I'm glad to announce, thanks to Al Fin's blog, that gentle nano-milkers can safely take the oil from algae without algae-pain! Thank God! Now our future is safe and guilt free. Algae to Oil to Plastics. I like it. Will anyone say 'Save the Algae?'


For Earth Day, A Public Service Announcement, Corn Based Plastics For Kids!

Here you go folks, guilt free plastics made from corn. Includes kids eating plates and utensils as well as pacifiers and toys!  Oh, there is one problem. Making plastics from food crops has big issues down the road as plastics would compete with hungry people for the source material. Better still to make it out of tortured bacteria or gently nano-milked algae so we can have our cake and eat it too!

Blest Plastics, use less or use it better?

Plastic can now be easily turned back into oil rather than landfill it. Recently, I've seen two announcements on it, one from a Japanese technology developer, and one from a recycler in Washington state using a US based technology.

The morale of the story

Happy Earth Day everyone. My suggestions and conclusions to help us all...

  • Don't pollute, give a hoot (Ok so I stole that)
  • Don't lie
  • Don't exaggerate just to scare people to your side
  • Don't slant the facts
  • Don't believe everything you hear and read
  • Get BOTH sides of the issue
  • Don't litter
  • Be an anti-litter activist

and for my friends in the plastics industry..

  • Don't pollute
  • Don't lie
  • Don't exaggerate
  • Don't slant the facts
  • Don't be silent to the critics
  • Find and spend the money to tell the truth
  • Admit when a bad plastics choice is a bad plastics choice
  • Err on the side of people, regarding health issues

April 10, 2009

Plastics in turtles, tin in goats, what to do, what to do...

Yet another plastic is evil story...

Leatherback-turtle-photo Plastic Found in 1/3 of Leatherback Turtles, According to Study

The article talks about plastics (mainly from bags) ending up in oceans, ending up in turtles as they look like jellyfish!

What about the jellyfish? The fake plastic jellyfish are SAVING the jellyfish! Go plastics!

But seriously, it touches on my major pet peeve of anti-plastics rhetoric. They are mostly nattering nabobs of negativism that lack clear and better alternatives and solutions.  In this case their simplistic solution? Less bags. Now I'm all for reusable bags as superior to any throw away bag. But the problem is not the bag, the problem is you!

They don't touch on the core issue.  HOW did that bag get there in the first place and what can be done to prevent it?

Keep America Beautiful Many of you will remember Keep America Beautiful's great Crying Indian Ad, where he is sad at the littering.  Ocean trash gets there from litter and tossed trash.  If people had better control of themselves we wouldn't live in a trash filled world. 

So many activists just want to shoot the messenger... throw out the baby with the bathwater... Oh I could go on.  Do ANY of them rail against the litter? Virtually none. They spend ALL of their time villianizing the material.

The true solution reminds me of the Caesar, the dog whisperer, when he says, "Lady, the problem is not your DOG. The problem is YOU!"  If goats really ate tin cans, these folks would all be against the evil tin! Rid the world of tin! Save the Goats!

If every one of the anti-plastics used that energy in a more productive, practical solution mindset and be against littering and simply pro bio-degradable instead of silly plastics is evil routine, we'd just get so much more done!

April 05, 2009

Bacteria Tortured, Plastics the result!

Click to see the molecular structure of PHB Warning! The descriptive imagery of this post may be disturbing to anti-torture greenpeace type activists.

This is not a new story, but it is getting recent press as researchers continue to look for ways to commercialize this thermoplastic polyester produced by bacterial fermentation, PHB, aka Poly-3-hydroxy-butyrate. Another alias is simply polyhydroxybutyrate, but its friends know it as PHB.

The torture? Ah, well wiki explains that this plastic is made "in response to conditions of physiological stress." Aha! See? Torture!  Who cares about the poor bacteria being stressed to produce plastics for greedy capitalist?  Where are the protesters? Bacteria is organic! It's alive! I'm sure it has feelings!

Treadmills3 It seems that bacteria, much like most of us, stores extra energy as fat, bacterial fat. Who knew? And this process makes the bacteria work so hard that they sweat off the fat which solidifies into PHB. I have visions of billions of tiny bacteria strapped to tiny nano treadmills working for the man!

From FirstScience.com:

To make PHB on a big scale you just fatten up bacteria with glucose in giant fermenters and effectively 'brew' the plastic.

One of the more interesting points is in its biodegradability. The reason it is biodegradable? The bacteria wants its fat BACK! Bacteria will eat this plastic to return it to its original form of bacterial fat. Until the man sweats it off them again.

This IS a fascinating plastic though, and one most environmentalist will love.

  • Made from bacteria
  • Limitless supply of cheap bacteria slaves
  • Truly biodegradable (not just smaller pieces)
  • Similar in strength to polypropylene
  • Transparency
  • No nasty toxic residues
  • Currently expensive to make (bacteria must be unionized)
  • Worked on by ICI, Monsanto and Metabolix
  • Biodegradable and medical applications
  • PHB is a type of polyester
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