Saturday, June 30, 2018

A Little Plastic Story

Back in the fall of 1992, I arrived at Bitburg Air Base, and as part of the introduction briefings....they brought the recycling manager for the base up for a 20-minute chat.

When I left in 1985....there was no real emphasis by the German government on recycling.  They were talking about it, but little else.  So in this period of seven years....things changed.

All over the base, they had paper cans....plastic cans....and regular garbage cans.  In fact, to prevent people from dumping in the wrong cans....they actually had to chained up and only authorized individuals could dump into the cans.  I know....this got to a point of stupidity.

It was a fairly uncomplicated recycling program, but it was direct....YOU WILL participate, was the guidance given.

So he opened up the floor to questions.  Some guy in the group asked....are you actually recycling 100-percent of what you collect. 

There was this 10-second pause.  It's a German guy, and you could tell that he wanted to be truthful., as hard as they try....with tons and tons of paper and plastic.....they simply couldn't get the system to recycle ALL of what was being collected.

Well, asked the young guy from the much was recycled?

The German figured off the top of his head (remember, this was little Bitburg, way out in the middle of nowhere), that at best, they were recycling about 40-percent of paper and plastic.  The rest was being buried in a location where it could be retrieved later for real recycling, when it 'caught up'.

I sat there for several minutes....contemplating this massive mess across Germany and the amount of political coverage involved, and at best....they could only recycle 40-percent of what was collected.

Years have passed.

I noticed about four years ago....folks were now hyping up all the plastic in the oceans.  The news media was in great was a terrible thing.  At that point, I was asking did the plastic get into the oceans.

I noticed this morning via Watts Up, an environmentalist page, that they got around to analyzing the problem of plastic and where it came from.  What they say is that for a decade or more....European countries have been busy shipping plastic collected....out of Europe, and toward Asia.  There, some business front would recycle the plastic.

Well, the analysts are suggesting that the plastic isn't really making it the full way, and that some folks are just dumping the plastic in the ocean. Yep, that's a shocker.

My general belief is that at some point in the 1990s....the environmentalists in Germany put enough pressure on city governments that they had to 'recycle', and that some folks came and said they had people in Asia who would do this.  The deal was made up through various communities and urbanized regions of Germany and throughout folks to ship the plastic off, and it'd be recycled elsewhere.  No one, in my humble belief, asked questions.

Some of this stuff did make into China, but I think they ran into the same problem....there just isn't some major recycling industry existing to handle ALL plastic. 

So now you have journalists and scientists all hyped up about mountains of plastic in the Pacific and they need to invent some fake ensure the public doesn't figure out that they were the ones who made this big mess in such a creative way.

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