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Brentwood Plastics blog

Hurricanes, Fossil Fuels and Plastics

Posted by Joel Longstreth on Fri, Sep 01, 2017 @ 04:40 PM

Although Harvey was tragic, it would have been much worse without the silent heroes of fossil fuels and plastics.
There was no plastic bashing, only tacit endorsement of both in a crisis.

plastic water cooler harveyplastic raft plastic bags harvey


harvey donations in plastic in austin, TX

All the plastics in these images were derived from fossil fuels.  The power for the boats and shelters was created by burning fossil fuel gasoline for the boats and fossil fuel natural gas for the electric power.  Not wind, not solar.

Eschewing something without a viable alternative is virtue signalling.  It is not cool to challenge the premise that all things derived from fossil fuels are inherently evil; we should not be using anything petroleum-based ( it is also impossible to engage in a dielectic about anything these days ).   Until practical alternatives are real, we will have to rely on what is available.

Imagine for a moment what would these people have done without plastic ?   Maybe wait for plastic derived from agricultural sources ?  They aren't a simple solution either. 

 FEMA is sending millions of bottles of water and MRE's.  Recyclable plastic is keeping the meals and water fresh.


plastic rescuing harvey


Chevron, a manufacturer of plastic resin, dontated $ 10,000 to a local relief shelter and 
has pledged over $ 1,000,000 in relief efforts.

Take a look at all the plastic in the background of this video of Joel Osteen rebutting criticism of his church being closed. Now imagine the diapers, food and water being transported in an alternative to plastic.  What would it look like ?

Now let's look at all the items requested for relief:

  • clean up supplies and black trash bags
  • mops and buckets
  • inflatable mattresses
  • hand sanitizer
  • baby bottles
  • formula
  • diapers
  • blood

Note that there is no stipulation that no items containing or packaged in plastic would be refused.  Anybody got any better ideas of how to package blood ?

Those of us in the plastic industry cannot be held responsible for gouging and profiteering.  We just make the packaging that gives the water and food a practically infinite shelf life.  Packaging prevents spoilage and greenhouse gases, but we don't talk about that.

Even though tarps are a chasing arrow #7 and not practically recyclable, the red cross needs a lot of them.  If you want to donate, call Tim Wahlers at 703) 638 - 8906 or email him at

Ever since Chesapeake Energy stopped donating millions to the Sierra Club for " beyond coal" greens have added fossil fuels to their list of things they love to hate.  Imagine what the relief shelters would look like if they relied only on wind and solar for power.

Most hospitals in Houston have remained dry.  Where would they be without electricity from natural gas and plastic ?

At this writing,half of the capacity for plastics is shut down.  When the railroads will be back up and running is anybody's guess.

Albeit briefly, plastic bashers are going to get their wish this fall.

Update September 11, 2017.

A few days before hurricane Irma hit Florida, governor Rick Scott arranged for a few tankers of gasoline to be delivered to Tampa.  Not windmills, not solar panels.  Supplies are being airlifted in by airplanes which run on fossil fuel.

Today FEMA announced they will be sending millions more MRE's and bottled water to Florida.  To say both are overpackaged would be a tremendous understatement.  The total amount of plastic packaging is conservatively 
8 truckloads.  Just the packaging.  So much for government leading the charge for source reduction.

Update September 25, 2017

Somebody in marketing at Coca Cola must be happy about the free exposures at J Lo's press conference.


By extension, New York must stand with with plastic too.


A plastics distributor teamed up with an injection molder to donate toothbrushes to the gulf.

water en route.jpg

 Water packaged in plastic en route to Irma relief in a plane made with plastic materials.


supplies for Irma victims packaged in plastic carryout bags


Update January 22, 2018

I V bags are in short supply.  If you don't have time to read the text of this article, look at the pictures.  Notice the cables are coated in plastic, not paper.  I V bags are also made from plastic, not paper.

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Topics: harvey, harvey plastics, hurricane relief, irma relief

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