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Plastic - a Weapon vs. Coronavirus

Posted by Joel Longstreth on Fri, Mar 20, 2020 @ 06:34 PM

In a crisis, political correctness and platitudes are relegated to abeyance.  Roosevelt and Lincoln both contravened the Constitution.  Only weeks ago plastics was the bane of our existence was plastics.  Now we are getting letters assigning essential status.

In 2008 in the aftermath of hurricanes Rita and Katrina the EPA put the summer regional formulations on hold when unleaded gas hit $ 6 per gallon in Atlanta.  Of course they were reinstated in spring 2009.

The U S government is doing the inverse of overreach in the coronavirus pandemic.  Cumbersome regulations for truckers have been rolled back like Walmart pricing to meet real needs.  The FDA is streamlining the approval process at an unimaginable pace, especially to anyone who has had to shepherd a drug or medical device through their maze ( they are notoriously slow because the bureaucrats have no incentive.  If a drug is a boon, the manufacturer gets the glory; if it has deleterious side effects, they get blamed for letting it get past phase 3 ).  Luciana Boro second guessed the off label use of hydroxychloroquine when patients are at the " hail Mary " juncture.   If she would remain a Luddite if she becomes desperate remains to be seen. 

Texas governor Greg Abbott has waived many trucking regulations

Publix is installing plexiglass barriers.

No real surprize.  Wars accelerate technology. 

plasticbashBashing plastic straw men became one of the favorite targets of virtue signallers in 2019.  

Here we go again.  In the aftermath of hurricane Harvey, plastics came to the rescue.

In the midst of the coronavirus crisis, plastic is once again the unsung hero.  You don't see articles
about plastic breaking the transmission chain.  The mention is mostly passing, usually about how long the virus can stay alive on specific surfaces. 

" These plastic bubble helmets are connected to ventilators to help patients breathe."
ABC chief foreign correspondent Maggie Rulli on assignment in Italy March 20,2020

 The Fauci " curve " would be a spike without plastics.

Plastics plays a key role in both mitigation and cure.  If we are on a war footing, plastics is a weapon against the coronavirus.

hazmatdoc

Take a look at these images.  The common thread - plastic is a barrier between the virus and humans.
Did you know ?  Even the nonwoven gowns and N 95 respirators are made from fossil fuel plastic, not organic hemp. 

coronavirusmasks&bottlesbloodbagbloodbag2

n95maskcoronabloodtubecoronamaskcoronafunnelcoronaswab

If the plasma therapy turns out to be viable, would single-use plastic or glass bottles be the preferred choice ?
Israel just flew in 10,000 hydroxychloroquine kits.  Were they packaged in woven burlap or plastic ?

The reason post-op infection rates are low is simple.  The sterile plastic devices are used once and disposed as biohazard in single use plastic bags.  There is no chance for seed populations to infect another patient.  If this mode was not effective, we would still be washing and recycling drapes.  New York Presbyterian has a shortage of masks because they are not taking any chances.  They are going through 40,000 to 70,000 daily compared to their normal usage of about 4,000.  Source: Craig Smith, Chair Department of Surgery / Surgeon in Chief  NYP CUIMC.

(  Let's remember basic econ here - a shortage is defined as an insufficient quantity of a commodity at the prices the market wants to pay.  When demand spikes due to an acute change in consumer behavior, voila !  You got a shortage.  We are seeing firsthand the invisible hand stepping up. )

We make film destined for opthalmic drapes, ostomy bags, under patient capillary blankets and other dermal contact medical devices.  Would you really want to be the patient who gets a hand-me down device ?  There are no poll numbers, but I suspect most of the greens would save themselves, not the planet given a choice.  If the government declares plastics a non-essential industry, recycled devices and bandages will become SOP (standard operating procedure ).

mountsinaigowns

These nurses at Mount Sinai are improvising.  There is a shortage of single use disposable aprons.  The major US manufacturer has put their customers on allocation.  Suddenly, the distributors who had been pushing them to meet the cheap China price want to be their friend. 

Think it couldn't happen here ?

" Doctors are putting masks in ziplock bags so they can be reused for up to a week."
ABC anchor David Muir March 20, 2020.

oldhospital

It's ironic that this is happening just as we are about to launch version 4.0 of a reusable bag.  Suddenly, the data about microbes travelling on reusable bags has become relevant.   A major defense of single use bags has been their cleanliness vis-a-vis reusable bags.  The data on microloads has been out there for years.  This has led to re-thinking bag bans.  

https://wgme.com/news/coronavirus/state-considers-delaying-new-law-banning-plastic-bags-amid-coronavirus-spread

https://www.silive.com/coronavirus/2020/03/plastic-bag-ban-enforcement-delayed-due-to-coronavirus-concerns.html

https://www.abqjournal.com/1433324/coronavirus-is-why-plastic-bag-ban-should-go.html

https://www.forbes.com/sites/patrickgleason/2020/03/17/pandemic-prompts-call-to-suspend-or-repeal-bag-bans--taxes/#53cf2f23464d

The virtue signallers have a dilemma.  If they show they care more than everyone else by using single-use plastic bags, they will tacitly endorse the plastic-induatrial complex. 

Once again expediency and survival trumps political correctness. 

charmin

The resin producers claim there is still substantial demand.  In my own direct experience, I have not seen nor heard of eco warriors refusing to buy toilet paper packaged in plastic.  MDPE for soft goods overwrap will be strong in the short term. 

The world will be different in the aftermath of the current unpleasantness.  We will see if plastic reverts to goat or remains a hero. 

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Topics: plastics recycling,, extended producer responsibility, plastics toxic, eco friendly plastic,, virtue signalling, plastic bag bans, coronavirus spread

EPR Extended Producer Responsibility - You will pay, not producers

Posted by Joel Longstreth on Thu, Jun 04, 2015 @ 06:08 PM

Extended Producer Responsibility ( EPR ) and product stewardship are ideas which are gaining traction globally.  Vilifying corporations may be satisfying to NGO's but the expense of recovery will be passed along to the consumer.  

 

 

The logic is that a corporation must be responsible for the entire life cycle of a product all the way to final disposal at end-of-life ( Germany holds the manufacturer legally responsible for the entire life cycle of the product under what is called "comprehensive outcome" ).  This would include re-use, take back and/or recycling. Problem: this costs money which is not presently included in the cost of the item.  Now the consumer pays for only the cost of the item hopefully produced with a small profit and quite possibly at loss. There is simply not enough profit built in to absorb these additional costs.  Packaging does not have a secondary use and cannot be repurposed.  

Container deposit legislation shows the consumer that recycling and recovery costs are extra.

The cost of disposing of toxins is often included in the sale price of some items.  Extending this principle to inert, non-toxic plastics is a bit of a stretch.  Just my opinion.  Container deposit legislation shows the consumer that recycling costs more than the container by itself.

Follwing the logic, the plastic processors are responsible for the behavior of the consumer who chooses to litter instead of recycling.  2 out of 3 containers made from #1 PET, the most recyclable of all polymers, end up as litter or landfill despite the best efforts of large corporations to encourage recycling.

Crafting EPR legislation might get complicated.  How would the cost be allocated ?  How much should the resin manufacturer be responsible for and how much for the processor ?  So-called "triple bottom line" concepts such as environmental full cost accounting ( EFCR ) and true cost accounting ( TCA ) attempt to capture the costs of the entire life cycle. They are open-ended and subjective at best.

file:///C:/Users/Joel%20Longstreth/Downloads/EPR_Packaging-Fact-Sheet.pdf

If the blame for plastic waste gets shifted to us plastic straw men, reality is the consumer will ultimately pay. Just as corporations pass along the costs of taxes, the plastic industry will pass these costs along.  

 update January 14, 2019

Look who's paying the sugar tax in Seattle.

 

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Topics: EPR, extended producer responsibility

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