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Belinda Waymouth
Environmental journalist and advocate, UCLA geography/environmental
studies graduate, mother

Plastic: It’s What’s for Dinner

Posted: 01/27/2015 8:44 pm EST Updated: 01/27/2015 8:59 pm EST

The day of ecological reckoning looms over us. I am not talking about
whether the Keystone XL Pipeline gets rammed through our backyards. I am
down the rabbit hole of environmental concern with another problematic
petrochemical — plastic.

We get plastic from oil, and have ingeniously transformed this
hydrocarbon polymer into a multitude of plastic things, giving our lives
a facade of durable-but-lightweight convenience.

Meantime there’s mounting evidence the dark side of plastic is much more
than we bargained for, or can cope with.

First off, the wholesale recyclability of plastic is a happy ending
environmental types — such as your author — want to believe. But in
the U.S less than 10 percent of plastic gets recycled. And, even when it
is recycled, the amount has become overwhelming. Globally there’ll be 45
million tons of plastic scrap looking to be recycled this year.

Most scrapped plastic ends up in China, bound for the Wen’an region.
Once a bucolic piece of countryside, Wen’an is now a toxic cesspit,
where people are paralyzed by off-the-chart blood pressure problems,
after enduring horrendous work conditions in a bid to recycle — or
otherwise dispose of — all the plastic.

Plastic: It’s What’s for Dinner

21. März 2015