Every minute around the world, almost one million plastic bottles are purchased. As the environmental impact of that plastic tide swells into a political issue, packaged goods sellers and retailers, pressured to stem the flow of single-use bottles and containers, are coming up with new ideas and technologies to solve the problem.
Plastic production has surged in the past 50 years, responding to the widespread demand for inexpensive, single-use disposable products that are devastating the environment. And, while images of plasticdebris-covered beaches and marine animals dead from eating plastic have triggered public outrage, it won’t stop anytime soon.
The oil industry is pouring billions into new facilities to produce more plastics, particularly in Asia, the biggest regional producer of plastic and plastic waste.
Polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles are commonly used for soft drinks and mineral water, but can also be used for other household or personal care products. Data from Euromonitor International shows that more than 480 billion of these bottles were sold last year alone – almost one million every minute.
Rosemarie Downey, global head of packaging research at market research company Euromonitor International, told Reuters that adopting circular design principles in packaging, which considers the entire lifecycle of a product, including use and reuse, is one way for brands to address surplus waste at the outset and can assist recovery, recycling, and reuse in order to reduce the damaging impact of plastic waste in the environment. “Ultimately, mindful consumption of plastic is a global duty of everyone,” Downey said. “Consumers have their part to play to help realize zero-litter, as do corporate players in their use and handling, and governments in providing the necessary, optimized waste management infrastructure.”
The European Union has voted to outlaw 10 single-use plastic items, including straws, forks and knives, by 2021. It has also set targets for all plastic packaging, the top source of plastic waste, to be recyclable by 2030.
All Waste Plastic Could Be Recreated as New Plastic
Faced with this difficult problem, scientists and corporate product designers alike have been searching for ways to keep single-use plastic items from proliferating in the environment.
The fact that plastics do not break down but accumulate in our ecosystems is a major environmental problem. But at Chalmers University of Technology in Gothenburg, Sweden, a research group led by Professor Henrik Thunman, who heads the Division of Energy Technology at the Department of Space, Earth and Environment, sees the resilience of plastic as an asset.
The nondegradable character of plastic that makes it such an environmental disaster also makes it a candidate for circular usage, creating a true value for used plastic, and thus an economic incentive to collect it, Thunman explains.
“We should not forget that plastic is a fantastic material – it gives us products that we could otherwise only dream of,” Thunman said. “The problem is that it is manufactured at such low cost, that it has been cheaper to produce new plastics from oil and fossil gas than from reusing plastic waste.”
Now, through experimenting with chemical recovery via steam cracking of plastic, Thunman’s research group at Chalmers has developed an efficient process for breaking any type of plastic waste down to a molecular level. The resulting gases can then be transformed into new plastics of the same quality as the original plastic.
“Through finding the right temperature, which is around 850 degrees Celsius, and the right heating rate and residence time, we have been able to demonstrate the proposed method at a scale where we turn 200 kg of plastic waste an hour into a useful gas mixture. That can then be recycled at the molecular level to become new plastic materials of virgin quality,” says Thunman.
The new process could transform today’s plastic factories into recycling refineries, right within the framework of their existing infrastructure.
Coca-Cola Makes Bottles From Plastic Ocean Debris
On October 15, the Coca-Cola company unveiled the first sample bottle made using recovered and recycled marine plastics, demonstrating that plastic ocean debris can be used in recycled packaging for food and drinks.
The sample bottle is the result of a partnership between Ioniqa Technologies, Indorama Ventures, Mares Circulares (Circular Seas) and The Coca-Cola Company.
Although enhanced recycling is still in its infancy, the partners produced the sample marine plastic bottles as a proof of concept for what the technology may achieve in time.
About 300 sample bottles have been produced using 25 percent recycled marine plastic retrieved from the Mediterranean Sea and beaches.
Some countries are trying to control the plastic tide through legislation. The Canadian government led by Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in June announced a ban on single-use plastics by 2021, joining over two dozen countries that have made similar moves.
Although specific details have yet to be released, Canada’s announcement puts pressure on big companies like Coca-Cola and PepsiCo that sell billions of single-use plastic bottles.
Writing for “Corporate Knights,” a Canadian publication, Tim Nash said on June 17, “The massive amount of plastic waste in our water systems is becoming impossible to ignore. We know about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, we’ve seen the large amounts of plastic being found in whales that wash up on shore, and we’ve heard about the latest study from WWF showing that the average person ingests a credit card’s worth of microplastics every single week.”
“Although specific details have yet to be released, Canada’s announcement puts pressure on big companies like Coca-Cola and PepsiCo that sell billions of single-use plastic bottles,” states Nash.
HP Constructs Computers With Ocean-Bound Plastics
Computer-maker HP Inc., a member of NextWave Plastics, on September 27 announced the launch of the HP Elite Dragonfly, the world’s first notebook manufactured with ocean-bound plastics.
The HP Elite Dragonfly is the world’s lightest, most compact business computer, weighing less than one kilogram (2.2 pounds). Its speaker enclosure component is made with 50 percent post-consumer recycled plastic, including five percent ocean-bound plastics.
The HP Elite Dragonfly is one of three HP products made with ocean-bound plastics.
To ensure their ocean-bound plastics efforts continue to scale, HP commits to including ocean-bound plastic material in all new HP Elite and HP Pro desktop and notebook computers launching in 2020.
In addition to protecting the oceans and the planet, HP’s ocean-bound plastic programs are also creating new opportunities for economic advancement and education in local communities. In Haiti, HP’s partnership with the First Mile Coalition has helped create more than 1,100 income opportunities for adults in the country and has provided 150 children with quality education, food, and medical assistance.
NextWave member companies are establishing ocean-bound plastics as a commodity to decrease the volume of plastic waste before it enters the ocean.
“Since joining NextWave Plastics last year, HP has been a standout partner, and we are thrilled to see the team continue to lead the way in scaling one of the most effective supply chains that is turning off the tap on ocean-bound plastics while improving the local community,” said Dune Ives, executive director of Lonely Whale, the convening entity for NextWave Plastics, a consortium of worldwide businesses committed to scaling the use of ocean-bound plastics.
“There are currently more than 86 million metric tons of plastic in our ocean, and each year, over eight million metric tons of additional plastic enters the ocean,” Ives said. “We are proud that our member companies continue to scale commercially viable and operational ocean-bound plastics supply chains – keeping plastic in the economy and out of the ocean.”
NextWave member companies are currently on track, in alignment with UN Sustainable Development Goal 14.1, to divert a minimum of 25,000 tonnes of plastics, the equivalent of 1.2 billion single-use plastic water bottles, from entering the ocean by the end of the year 2025.
Ellen Jackowski, global head of Sustainability Strategy & Innovation, HP Inc, said, “Our circular economy strategy is about shifting our production to eliminate waste and enable a system that can sustain our levels of consumption in harmony with nature and our singular planet Earth for generations to come.”
© Environment News Service (ENS) 2019. All rights reserved.
How much of the monetary gains from the Trump economic speedup have gone to the middle class? If you ask Democratic senators and presidential candidates Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris and Bernie Sanders, the answer to that question is ... almost none.
" (Donald) Trump's economy is great for billionaires, not for working people," Sanders likes to say. Meanwhile, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi grouses that under the Trump agenda, "the rich get richer, and everyone else is stuck paying the bill."
Uh-huh. That's been the standard liberal riff for the last couple of years as they try to explain how a president who they said would create a second Great Depression has created boom times with the lowest inflation and unemployment in half a century.
But not a word of this is true, according to new Census Bureau data on the incomes of America's middle class. This study by former Census Bureau researchers and now statisticians at Sentier Research has found gigantic income gains for the middle class under Trump. The median or average-income family has seen a gain of $5,003 since Trump came into office. Median family income is now (August 2019) $65,976, up from about $61,000 when he entered office (January 2017).
Under George W. Bush, the household income gains were a little over $400 in eight years, and under Barack Obama the gains were $1,043. That was in eight years for each. Under Trump, in less than three years, the extra income is about three times larger.
These gains under Trump are so large in such a short period of time that I asked the Sentier Research team to triple-check the numbers. Sure enough, on each occasion, the income swing was $5,000.
This is a bonanza for the middle class, and the extra income in tens of millions of Americans' pockets is getting spent. Consumers are king in America today, and fatter wallets translate into more store sales.
Home Depot and Lowe's recently recorded huge sales surges.
The tax cut also added an additional $2,500 to a typical family of four's after-tax incomes. So after taking account of taxes owed, the income of most middle-class families is up closer to $6,000 in the Trump era.
Memo to Pelosi: That ain't crumbs.
Ronald Reagan used to talk about the importance of real take-home pay. He asked voters in 1980, "Are you better off than you were four years ago?" (when Jimmy Carter was elected). Thanks to high taxes, high inflation and high unemployment in the late 1970s, the answer to that question was clearly no. Reagan won and Carter lost.
Trump should begin asking Americans if they are better off than they were four years ago. Today, the answer to that question is clearly yes. It's the economy, stupid. Everyone -- especially the middle class -- is sharing in the fruits of the Trump boom.
To the Editor,
Gotta love the ultra liberal ninth circuit Court. Banning students from wearing shirts with the US because it offends Mexicans.
For those who talk about flag code, though I agree in principle, it’s not law. Just a set of rules on how the flag should be treated and wearing one on a shirt is freedom of speech!
Also the flag code law applies to an actual flag being worn as clothing, not a design of it
Given that, any ruling that limits anyone’s rights based on anyone else’s opinion on how it makes them feel is wrong.
The right to free speech needs to be paramount in any decision.
also, I think people who burn flags are terrible unpatriotic people, but I’ll defend their right to do it.
To the Editors,
Keeping the American public in the dark and not releasing full transcripts of the interviews is a horrible optic for the Dems. I suspect that they want to see how they can spin whatever they learn.
And remember if they had anything that made their case a slam dunk, it would already be out.
We all know that this impeachment nonsense is just trying to distract/covering up for Barr's investigations into the origins of Russiagate? And to keep people from talking about Biden withholding aid money to force the firing of the Ukraine prosecutor and his son Hunter making a million dollars from an energy company's board of directors that meet once or twice a year without any experience to bring to the table.
Smoke and mirrors ... just smoke and mirrors
To the Editor,
I love your paper! But I was disanointed when I turned to page seven and found no Sun Bunny.The sunset was nice but that was usually on page 14 or so.
Are you not doing that anymore?
Ed. Note: Even as fun of a job as that it is to do, and I would know, I used to do it for the Sandpaper back in 2000 and 2001. But Unfortunately, we have a very small staff and do not have anyone dedicated to getting those pictures.
All the Sun Bunny pics have been sent in by readers for more than 2 years now. Just haven’t had any sent in quite a few weeks now and we used up all the ones we had saved.
If you know any budding photographers that would like to volunteer to do the terrible job of taking pictures of ladies on the beach, send them my way. Or have your significant other take one of you and send one in yourself.
The U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) says activities including oil and gas development on federal lands managed by the agency contributed $105 billion in economic output in fiscal 2018.
The BLM, which manages over 245 million acres, released a report Friday detailing the agency’s economic contributions. Total economic output on BLM-managed lands is $105 billion, up from $95.6 billion in fiscal 2017.
“America’s public lands are a key driver of the nation’s economy, particularly in states across the West. The jobs and communities these lands support are vital to millions of Americans, and the Bureau of Land Management is proud to make sure economic activities continue in a sustainable, environmentally-sound manner,” acting BLM Director William Perry Pendley said.
Energy production was the largest contributor to the agency's increased economic output.
Oil and gas development on BLM lands accounted for $71.5 billion in economic output last year. Oil production increased from 174 million barrels in 2017 to 214.1 million in 2018, the bureau said.
Coal production on BLM lands accounted for $10.1 billion in economic output in 2018, with an 8 percent decrease in production from the previous year.
Non-energy mineral production made up $12.7 billion in economic output, with a mineral production value of almost $89 million in 2018.
Recreation on BLM lands contributed $6.8 billion in fiscal 2018, with 68 million visits for activities like fishing, horseback riding and mountain biking. Recreation accounted for $6.7 billion and 67.4 million visits in fiscal 2017.
Economic activity on all BLM-managed lands helped support 471,000 jobs, with 300,000 of those jobs being related to oil and gas development.
Activities on U.S. Department of Interior lands – which include BLM-managed lands – contributed $315 billion in economic output and supported 1.8 million jobs nationally last year.
In Arizona, recreation on DOI lands contributed $1.8 billion to the state’s economy. Energy and mineral development on DOI lands managed in Nevada contributed nearly $3.8 billion. In Colorado, energy and mineral development contributed $6.1 billion in GDP.
The Center Square
Republicans and Democrats alike take advantage of a pay-to-play system ingrained in the nation’s Capitol, a new oversight report from OpenTheBooks.com maintains.
“Congress writes their own rules to protect their re-election campaigns,” according to the 36-page report, “The Congressional Favor Factory: Legalizing Pay-To-Play – A Study Of Federal Grants, Campaign Cash, Investments, Employment, Power & Influence.”
The report includes eight case studies of four Republicans and four Democrats.
These members serve on the most powerful committees in Congress, the report states, within “a culture of conflict of interest. The confluence of federal money, campaign cash, private employment, investments, prestigious committee appointments, political power, nepotism, and other conflicts are a fact pattern.”
Republicans analyzed include: Rep. Tom Cole of Oklahoma, Rep. Kristi Noem of South Dakota, Rep. Erik Paulsen of Minnesota, and Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington.
Democrats include Connecticut Rep. John B. Larson, Tennessee Rep. Jim Cooper, and Michigan Reps. Debbie Dingell and Brenda Lawrence.
The report found that the members own investment stock in, are employed by, and receive retirement pensions from federal contractors who receive billions of dollars of taxpayer money. The same members sponsor legislation that impacts the contractors whose lobbyists also advocate for or against legislation that helps both the member and the contractor, the report found.
For example, the report highlights Rep. Larson, whose campaign received the most funding from United Technologies Corporation (UTX), a company of which he is a stockholder.
UTX executives, employees, political action committees and affiliated lobbyists donated $377,050 to his campaign. Since 2010, Larson co-sponsored 19 bills for which United Technologies registered lobbying activity. The company received $83.8 million in federal grants (subsidies) and $16.1 billion in federal contracts (2014-2018), according to the report.
In Michigan, the report notes that employees at the University of Michigan (U-M) donated the most to Rep. Dingell over the course of her congressional career. Dingell is a member of the university’s Ford School of Public Policy Committee, involved with fundraising and networking initiatives. She also co-sponsored four bills for which the U-M registered lobbying activity (2014-2018).
In the last five-years, U-M received federal payments of $2.3 billion, of which the vast majority ($2 billion) was in federal grants.
“As I am sure you know, it is not at all uncommon for members of Congress to be strong advocates for and supportive of the major institutions in their congressional districts or in their home states,” Mark Schlissel, University of Michigan president, said in a statement included in the report. “The University of Michigan is a world-class institution of higher education. Both the main campus in Ann Arbor and the UM-Dearborn campus are within Rep. Debbie Dingell’s district.”
“U-M is one of the state’s largest employers – with more than 50,000 employees across the state – and two of the three academic campuses, along with the Michigan Medicine main campus, are located within her district,” Schlissel adds. “Our employees are free to make personal campaign contributions to any elected official they may wish to support.”
Nothing OpenTheBooks uncovered in its oversight report is illegal, it notes. “In fact, it’s all legal. Quite possibly, that is the scandal,” it states. The goal of exposing the pay-for play system is “to hold these politicians accountable,” the report emphasizes.
Information about the federal grant, contract, farm subsidy, and direct payment data was acquired through Freedom of iInformation Act requests from the U.S. federal government and covers four years of records from fiscal 2014 to fiscal 2018, including farm subsidy data over a longer period.
OpenTheBooks auditors acquired campaign donation data from OpenSecrets.org, Center for Responsive Politics, and the Federal Election Commission disclosures through August 7, 2019.
All members audited were given the opportunity to answer questions before the report was published and none chose to go on the record, according to OpenTheBooks.com. All federal contractors were given an opportunity to answer questions before publication and only three chose to go on the record.
The Center Square
Something all married couples need to think about when making their estate plan is Florida's “elective share” rule. This refers to a state law that authorizes the surviving spouse to claim a 30-percent share of a deceased spouse's elective estate–i.e., any property that would normally be disposed of by will or trust.
It is possible, however, for a spouse to waive his or her right to take an elective share by written agreement. For example, if the spouses signed a prenuptial agreement where each spouse waived their future right to claim an elective share in the other spouse's estate, that would be considered legally binding by a Florida court.
Court: Husband's Trust Does Not Override Prenuptial Agreement
In fact, the Florida Fourth District Court of Appeal recently held that a waiver contained in a prenuptial agreement can actually override contrary instructions in a spouse's trust. The case, Wilson v. Wilson, involved a dispute between the wife and son of a deceased Florida man.
When the husband and wife married in 2011, they signed a prenuptial agreement. The agreement contained specific language waiving and relinquishing any “elective share” rights they might have under law in the “property or estate of the other party.” Notwithstanding this language, the agreement also said either spouse could still “elect to make a gift to the other by Will” without invalidating the elective share waiver.
Two years later, in 2013, the husband executed a will and trust as part of his estate plan. The trust directed the successor trustee to “set aside from the property of this trust” to “satisfy the Wife's elective share” under Florida law.
After the husband died in 2017, the wife attempted to claim her elective share, citing the language in the trust. The son, who was now trustee, opposed the election, maintaining the original 2011 waiver remained in force.
The Second District agreed with the son. Affirming an Indian River County judge's earlier ruling, the appeals court said the “language of the prenuptial agreement unambiguously waived the wife's elective share.” The husband's subsequent decision to create a trust “could not modify the prenuptial agreement since it was not signed by both parties as was required by the prenuptial agreement” and Florida law. And even if the husband gave his wife a “testamentary gift,” that would not effect the waiver of the elective share itself.
The critical thing to note here is that when a married couple signs a prenuptial agreement affecting their rights under Florida probate law, any subsequent modification to that agreement must also be in writing and signed by both parties. One spouse cannot unilaterally assume their actions will automatically invalidate a waiver.
If you are thinking about making changes to your own will or trust, it is important to work with an experienced Fort Myers estate planning attorney who can advise you in the proper way to do things. Contact the Kuhn Law Firm, P.A., at 239-333-4529 to schedule a free, confidential consultation today.
General Motors can afford the comparatively rich offer it made to settle the month-long United Auto Workers strike in part because it has a revamped line of highly profitable trucks and SUVs ready to hit showrooms in a few weeks.
It also gained some much needed production capacity reductions with the closing of three plants, especially its massive Lordstown Assembly Plant in northeast Ohio that eliminates production of 300,000 units a year.
That flexibility came in exchange for a promise over four years to invest $9 billion in U.S. facilities, give two annual raises of 3% each and two 4% bonuses, uncap profit sharing pay and an $11,000 signing bonus to each UAW member.
It's a good enough deal for the UAW to justify its walkout. Strikers will be made whole by the signing bonus, and the union also won important concessions on temporary workers.
Still, it all teeters on a strategy that requires GM to keep churning out vast quantities of money making and less fuel-efficient SUVs and pickup trucks. General Motors expects to sell a lot of these over the next few years because nearly all of its large vehicle models have been redesigned for 2020.
But the automaker could well find its plans stymied by a shift in energy and emissions policies should a progressive Democrat be elected president next fall. Nearly all of the Democratic contenders have pledged a major crackdown on fossil fuels, with some setting aggressive timelines for moving America to a zero-emissions economy.
Among the frontrunners for the nomination, former Vice President Joe Biden, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders have all signed on to some version of the Green New Deal, which would basically put the internal combustion engine out of business.
While automakers are slowly moving toward electrification of their fleets, it will be a long time before most SUVs and pickups are fully electric.
Warren presents a particular danger. She says she would "ban fracking everywhere." Fracking is the extraction technology that has allowed the United States to become a major exporter of oil and natural gas, and has kept fuel prices in this country low.
Take away fracking, and the cost of a gallon of gasoline will soar. Detroit has seen before what happens to large vehicle sales when fuel costs rise high enough to change consumer behavior.
The Big Three automakers have virtually eliminated cars and don't have many small vehicle options should extreme fuel prices alter market demand.
If past practice holds, Ford Motor Co. and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV will have to match the economic package GM presented under the UAW's long tradition of "pattern bargaining."
Doing so will keep all three automakers from closing the hourly labor cost gap with their foreign competitors who build vehicles in the United States. For GM, that was $13 an hour going into the strike, for Ford it was $11 an hour and for FCA $5. This deal likely will make the gap worse. For context, Toyota is recruiting workers for its Georgetown, Kentucky plant with an offer of $18 an hour. That's a little more than half of what GM will be paying UAW members at its Bowling Green, Kentucky, Corvette facility.
Again, that's not such a big deal, as long as the assembly plants can produce SUVs and pickups around the clock.
But should the direction of federal policy shift suddenly toward much tighter fuel efficiency standards and less energy production, the new contracts will put all three companies in a tough spot.
I have to tell you a remarkable personal story, a story that proves the liberal media are, in fact, out to frame and ruin President Donald Trump and his supporters with lies, distortions and misrepresentation; a story that proves the liberal media are vicious, untrustworthy and sometimes just plain evil.
I was in Miami last weekend to speak in front of 1,200 conservatives at a fabulous three-day conference called AmpFest19. Speakers also included Donald Trump Jr., Sarah Huckabee Sanders and Dinesh D'Souza. The event was organized professionally. The speakers were inspiring. The crowd was enthusiastic. And the energy was sky high.
But it turned out the liberal media sent spies into the audience to try to ruin, denigrate and demonize the event, and kill all the joy. Guess who they went after.
Their agenda was to paint conservatives as "violent." First, they went after a fake Trump video supposedly played in a back room of the event that no one ever saw. When that didn't work, they went after me.
Nothing violent about me, right? Wrong. When liberals want to slander you, they can take any sentence out of context to hang you — as long as they leave out the actual details and context.
They do this to President Trump every day.
I gave a speech about how to beat Democrats in 2020. It centered on the fact that liberals and the liberal media are bullies — out to intimidate, ban, censor, persecute, beat us into submission.
I told an inspiring, heartwarming story of my high school past, a story of how I became the real-life "Karate Kid," how I morphed from a nerd, persecuted and brutalized by bullies, to a champion fighter who turned the tables on the bullies.
I started out as a skinny Jewish kid with acne, braces and thick glasses attending one of America's roughest and most violent urban high schools. I was tortured, intimidated, persecuted and beaten — in the bathrooms and lunchrooms, on the playground and after school.
But one summer, I changed my life. I learned how to fight, lifted weights like a maniac, got contact lenses and took off my braces. I came back to school, and when the first three tough guys attacked me, I responded in self-defense and beat them each badly. My classmates cheered. The nerd became the hero. I made the bullies cry.
No one ever bullied me again. From that day forward, I was the protector of the nerds.
The moral of the story is to never let a bully intimidate you. Always fight back and defend yourself. Never allow the media, antifa thugs or punks on social media to intimidate you. Be a pit bull, not a Chihuahua.
I've walked tall, with confidence, ever since. And I haven't been in a fight. Peace through strength. And one more lesson: Bullies are cowards. If you fight back, they will crumble.
Great story, right? I brought the house down.
But a Soros-funded liberal media group wrote a story in which it accused me of "promoting violence." It turned a great All-American story of the nerd defeating bullies into a story of "violence by conservatives." That's disgusting. That's fraud.
But it's instructive. This is what the liberal media and liberal politicians do to Trump every day. They are liars and bullies. They slander, intimidate, misrepresent and persecute. Their chief tool is propaganda.
From this day forward, every time you see a negative story about Trump, remember my story.
Wayne Allyn Root