Join Date: May 2012
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Re: Garbage Island
The law of unintended consequences. It was none other than the Sierra Club that pushed to replace paper shopping bags with plastic. (in an effort to reduce logging)
I come from a background in factory automation / production. I know all too well about PET bottles. Trust me- the bottling industry hates them, and all packaging, as much as you do, although for different reasons. Packaging represents a ridiculous amount of cost which adds nearly zero value to a product- and the cost of packaging cannot be recouped in any way that amounts to anything. However- packaging is driven by multiple needs, both real and imaginary. Real needs- such as you have to package a product to get it to the consumer. The package has to survive shipping. It has to survive on the retailers' shelves, and it has to look good for the consumer.
I hate packaging (from an engineering standpoint) more than you can possibly imagine. I especially hate PET drink bottles because they were the ruin of beverage quality. With the outcry (very much justified) of plastic waste, the new name of the game with plastic beverage bottles is to lightweight them, which means they don't run worth crap in the bottling plant, which leads to huge amounts of waste, downtime, and lost production / labor and damage in shipping because they aren't structurally sound. Some can be recycled as waste plastic, but never again for primary beverage containers. Only raw PET can be used for primary consumption containers. Hey...take it up with the FDA.
Packaging represents near total waste. However, when is the last time you purchased breakfast cereal in a bag with a twist tie? When is the last time you purchased peanut butter, pickles, mayonaise, soda, etc in a glass bottle or jar if a plastic one was available? When is the last time you purchased returnable bottles? Considering they are largely only sold in South America anymore, I'd say it's been a while.
Remember in the 70's when the BOSS Pepsi went to plastic (PET) and replaced the glass 2 Liter bottle? The commercial had the nice lady driving home from the supermarket in her LTD stationwagon with the wood panel sides? The Boss Pepsi bottles were bouncing all around and...gasp...didn't break?
The public asked for plastic. They continue to ask for plastic in the products that we all buy every day when there is an alternative. We have met the enemy, and it is us. Each one of us as consumers.
There are some good things on the horizon. Starch products to replace styrofoam, corn based plastics to make them biodegradable..etc. The technology is coming, but it's not there yet in many regards. Trust me, I have worked for multiple Fortune 100 companies where this issue is front and center. But these companies can't price themselves out of the market, either. They are adopting the new products as those products become viable.
I do see things getting better. But it's going to take a very long time in my opinion. In the meantime, we can alter our choices. We can alter our consumer-centric perceptions of what is acceptable packaging. Write letters to manufacturers. Believe me- they DO listen. They listen to complaints far more often than is justified in many cases. Perception is EVERYTHING to businesses that live in single digit margins, which is all of them. The wheels turn slow, but they do turn.
Last edited by ShoalFinder; 11-13-2012 at 04:05 PM.