Oh, I don’t know if this is embarrassing or just shows my need to avoid conflict. I am now three years a couple months out from defining the threats to our environment and my comments to this last one is a bit of a threat to our political freedoms. I want to be very clear that I am not saying people “CAN’T” make crap, sell it, waste resources, etc… that would be un-American; I am distinctly saying we “SHOULDN’T” make crap and waste resources. For a bit of a stinger I’ll point out that anything we create that can’t be recycled is wasting the airspace of our landfills, which I think I was very clear about in item #1.
I first had a clear thought about how we, Americans, due to our business practices and freedoms allow companies to create, market, and sell things that don’t work, aren’t needed, and are packaged in non-recyclable/non-reusable packaging. Originally, I was going to use Enzyte, gum, and lead acid batteries as my examples; but frankly I don’t need to be the specific about the product.
Blister Packs are polystyrene plastic bubbles with a paper/wax/foil laminated base. The pill, gum, or whatever product is pushed through the laminate to use. The sheet is a non-recyclable conglomerate that goes to the landfill. Yes, they are small, but they in the multitudes and they are made using natural resources. Progressive companies could be using recycled paper and foil to make the laminate; but in my research I did not find a single one who did. However, TerraCycle offers recycling of Blister Packs and Coffee Capsules – https://zerowasteboxes.terracycle.com/pages/how-it-works – I’ll be sure to look into them shortly to see what they do with the materials. Packaging in general is an ongoing issue that has been well abused and illuminated by other writers.
Coffee capsules are another notable product that is considered to be a disposal issue, though I’d say the environmental impact is in the creation of the capsules rather than the disposal. Similarly we have lead acid batteries, any non-rechargeable really, that not only are a disposal nightmare (fires, reactive leachate); but they are no fun to manage for recyclables either. Each battery has to be handled and protected from potential interaction with other batteries or conductive material; making recycling very, very expensive. Also, the batteries are made out of numerous natural resources that are in differing demand and availability. However, the companies that make these products have every right to do so and are supported by our consumer dollars.
So this is a bit disjointed, but I had to post something on the #4 Environmental Threat before going off on other ideas. Next time, I am going to kind of twist everything together and talk about preserving landfills, making energy today, and reducing our carbon footprint all in one simple step…. banning organics from landfills.