Tuesday, 28 June 2011

A personal proposal for controlling plastic trash - Part I

The quantity of plastic that we accumulate in our rubbish bins these days is amazing, some of these types of plastic cannot even be recycled. Since the day I wrote an article about the stupidity involving  the amount of plastic disposed into the pacific trash vortex (find it here) that I have been trying myself to deliver some kind of useful idea to help. Something that can ultimately open up the discussion, or even help once for all reduce the quantity of plastic generated, and increase responsibility over the futile unnecessary production of plastic for commercial purposes these days.

The utilisation of plastic is a monster difficult to fight. It has nothing to do with capitalism, as some people propose; it has nothing to with lack of other packaging means, as some might think; it has to do greatly with how lazy we've become. At least this is my personal view. Because the packaging does not intend solely to conserve the product but also to appeal to readiness, to the likes of people and to an ongoing stressed up clock that we've triggered to ourselves (no one knows exactly why we've done it anyway - probably here capitalism and a fiercely consuming society might explain it partially!). So, I have been dedicating myself 15 minutes a day trying to bring up some idea to promote a positive discussion regarding methods of reducing production of plastic and increasing responsibility over heavy polluters, in that sense.

I believe that the best way to get people and companies involved in something is to deliver two basic ideas: 1) make them feel that they're being watched and made responsible for their actions, and 2) make them know and believe that their change of procedures can and will have a rapid impact on their assets.

How you do this? Well, it is here that my idea lays ground. I think that every plastic produced in the European  Economic Union (because we're damn good setting the example :D) should be attributed a bar code that would be controlled centrally as part of a database and checking system. Every lot of plastic bottles or whatever product would suffer the same process tracked parcels go through when Royal Mail is to deliver it to some household. The best way to understand it is, indeed, to picture it with a proper example. Let's say that company A is responsible for producing a thousand plastic bottles to be sold to Company B (this one involved in the fruit juice industry). Company A would produce these 1000 bottles, register them in the EEU plastic database and then, after being licensed (it would have to be an immediate process in order to speed up the production rhythm) it would be entitled to be sent to company B. When company B receives the 1000 bottles it will scan the allotment bar code, thus informing immediately EEU plastic database that it is now the responsibility of company B the adequate management of these bottles. Company A is free to go, Company B is to fill up the bottles with juice and sell them to the big supermarkets.

It is now that the issue is about to get hairy! Company B has sold the allotments of 250 bottles to, for example, 4 major retailers in UK: Tesco, Sainsbury's, Aldi and ASDA. When the latter acknowledge receipt of the bottles these same bottles will be broken into individual parts so a customer can take one bottle only if that's what he/she wants. It is now impossible to control every single one of these bottles? No way!!! Responsibility is not only about big corporations taking action, it is about you and me acting and not just professing, once for all!!! It is feasible because this system would guarantee that the moment you scan the bottle you bought, for example, at Tesco, it would discount one from the 250 Tesco is, ultimately, responsible for; the EEU plastic database would be informed accordingly. How to make it work when the customer comes to play? Loyalty cards is the answer! You cannot wait for the person to be delegated responsibility and act imbued of civil liability, people are way to selfish and lazy; you just give them something really tasteful... points. So, Tesco could offer 5 points (just a figurative example) for that plastic bottle if it is returned to the shop after the juice has been consumed. This return system is actually in practice in places like Hamburg (see figure 3 as an example), I know because I used it... you just take your plastic to the machine, put it in this big treadmill, the device scans it and prints a receipt for you to ask back a percentage of the money you paid when you purchased the product. Only this time Tesco would guarantee the customer's loyalty by offering points to be used in Tesco premises.

When Tesco recaptures the bottle as part of this scheme I am hereby proposing, it has only to return it to a recycling company which would scan the bar code and, therefore, become responsible for that plastic element, and the process would go on and on and on until that plastic reaches its "lifespan".

Well, some might ask - What about a bottle that has been damaged? It is simple, you screw with the bar code, you're in trouble my friend. The one holding the bottle needs to acknowledge it's civil responsibility towards the environment and society. Thus, if I got a bottle from Aldi and I was the one screwing up I lose my loyalty points, if Aldi screws up, they will have to pay a monetary penalty for their lack of responsibility.

I personally see a good starting project here, something I would love to see applied in a pilot scale. I think society has got to get involved and feel liable for the countless quantities of unnecessary rubbish we've been producing.

What questions and flaws do you immediately identify in my proposal? Let me know so you and I can make it even better. The second part of this article will be available soon here in TheToxicologistToday... I will bring you a full article on what plastics can be recycled and why!!!!!

See you soon!

No comments:

Post a Comment