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Plastic, a bigger threat than climate change? (9 Feb, 2018)

PostPosted: Fri Feb 09, 2018 8:03 am
by aardvark_admin
This column is archived at: https://aardvark.co.nz/daily/2018/0209.shtml

Could the plastic we use every day be slowly killing us?

Have we underestimated the magnitude of the threat posed by the increasing levels of micro and nano-sized bits of plastic accumulating in the environment and invading the food chain?

Does anyone (else) remember what life was like in a largely "pre-plastic" era?

Do you remember how sliced bread would go stale within hours of being bought -- possibly due to the rather lacklustre performance of waxed paper as a method of sealing in the goodness?

Glass milk bottles with foil lids?

Solvent-based felt-tip markers with glass bodies?

Cellophane?

Wooden spoons with your ice-cream sundaes?

Toothpaste in metal tubes?

Any other things that were once made of non-plastic but are now totally plastic?

Re: Plastic, a bigger threat than climate change? (9 Feb, 20

PostPosted: Fri Feb 09, 2018 8:57 am
by hagfish
There's a bacterium that can break plastic down. My hope is that it flourishes and spreads. If it can properly 'rot' all the discarded plastic in the environment, having to keep our Tupperware dry is a small price to pay.

Re: Plastic, a bigger threat than climate change? (9 Feb, 20

PostPosted: Fri Feb 09, 2018 9:11 am
by granada29
Back in the 60's I remember TV sets and stereos (errrr radiograms) where made mostly of metal, ceramics, glass and wood with the only plastic being the glued on manufacturers name (La Gloria, Pye etc) and the control knobs. Possibly the valve holders were also plastic, but more likely to have been bakelite. Transistors were available but rather rare.Todays electronic consumer goods almost never contain wood and why use metal where a good plastic chassis/frame can do the same job.

Re: Plastic, a bigger threat than climate change? (9 Feb, 20

PostPosted: Fri Feb 09, 2018 10:31 am
by Malcolm
hagfish wrote:There's a bacterium that can break plastic down. My hope is that it flourishes and spreads. If it can properly 'rot' all the discarded plastic in the environment, having to keep our Tupperware dry is a small price to pay.


Ah yes, let us unleash a new organism in to the environment to solve a problem, that has never gone badly before!

Re: Plastic, a bigger threat than climate change? (9 Feb, 20

PostPosted: Fri Feb 09, 2018 12:48 pm
by aardvark_admin
I seem to recall reading a book (Mutant 59) about such a bacteria -- and it didn't turn out at all well.

Re: Plastic, a bigger threat than climate change? (9 Feb, 20

PostPosted: Fri Feb 09, 2018 7:28 pm
by Perry
Anyone remember bakelite?

Re: Plastic, a bigger threat than climate change? (9 Feb, 20

PostPosted: Fri Feb 09, 2018 10:11 pm
by aardvark_admin
Perry wrote:Anyone remember bakelite?

Yes, light switches and even entire radio cabinets were made from bakelite. I remember having to deal with both... and it was terribly brittle -- drop it onto a hard surface and it would almost always shatter.

Re: Plastic, a bigger threat than climate change? (9 Feb, 20

PostPosted: Fri Feb 09, 2018 10:19 pm
by Mike23545
Hi y'awll,
I just read Bruce's post & just had to log in & comment.

I went to do a little shopping at the local "Woolies" store & proceeded to buy my usual brand of orange juice.
It "used to" come in a 2 litre, tall, square cardboard container.
I couldn't see it straight away amongst all the other brands, but eventually saw the name "BERRI", 100 % Australian grown, Pulpy.
For some damn reason, they've now stuck it into a 2 litre PLASTIC bottle.
Why for?
I dunno.
The cardboard containers were easy to compact, took less space in the bin & degraded over a short time.

You've got me as to why "they" decided that PLASTIC is better than cardboard.
Some very weird people at the top.


&, Yes. I do remember Bakelite.
We had an old mantle radio made of it.
It was called "The Little Nipper" & was mainly that sickly green colour.
Plus, being a sparky, handled it most of my working life.

Re: Plastic, a bigger threat than climate change? (9 Feb, 20

PostPosted: Sat Feb 10, 2018 11:26 am
by Perry
I seem to recall that there was quite a lot of bakelite in cars. Mainly dashboard things.

Wikipedia describes it thus:
Baekeland then began experimenting to strengthen wood by impregnating it with a synthetic resin, rather than coating it. By controlling the pressure and temperature applied to phenol and formaldehyde, Baekeland produced a hard moldable material which he named "Bakelite". It was the first synthetic thermosetting plastic ever produced,

A plastic? :?:

Re: Plastic, a bigger threat than climate change? (9 Feb, 20

PostPosted: Sat Feb 10, 2018 11:38 am
by aardvark_admin
Yes, "plastic" insomuch as it was able to be shaped with heat and pressure.. but perhaps not the kind of polymer we associate "plastics" with these days.