Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Paper or Plastic? No problem!

This Japanese man supposedly has invented a plastic-to-oil distillery.  Hmmmm? 

Seems simple enough, agreed. Several basic questions that come to mind for me:

1) How much energy input is required to achieve the output?

2) Some plastics are more complex compounds than others. What happens with the residues that surely remain with some? 

3) Some plastics surely give off very noxious gases as they are being heated. I doubt that they simply sit in the retort and quietly transform themselves into gaseous petroleum. Are these gases condensed in the water, or do they escape and themselves become a source of atmospheric pollution?

Best way always to "solve" problems is to make as little of the problem as possible in the first place. Nearly all products we make, sell and purchase here are WAY overpackaged and WAY under-durable. I'd like to know more about the plastics distillery, but don't have time to do any research.

Some years back, I looked into the business of motor oil bottles... ugh!  What do we do with those?  Why the near total absence of recycling available for motor oil bottles?  The brand new, unused motor oil that ends up in landfills every year because people are too impatient to completely drain oil bottles before disposing? It's the equivalent of about 3.5 Exxon Valdez oil tankers.  Every year.  Every...  year.  Why? 

Over a decade ago, the US Department of Energy patented a process for cleaning the excess oil from plastic bottles, even the film residue that remains after thorough draining, using CO2 as the solvent. In the process, the CO2 is captured and recycled, not released. So far as I could tell, only one company in CA was engaging in the process several years ago, operating on state grant money that was probably budget axed after the original 2-year grant.
A friend and I once collected several large cases of plastic oil bottles, flattened them, and shipped them down to CA. Of course, the big question is whether more energy was spent in shipping than retrieved by the recycling process.  We felt good for a few minutes, but solved nothing.    

This defies reason, intelligence and civilization, of course. Since motor oil bottles are sold in every community on earth that has motor vehicles, there should be a closed loop system everywhere for the recovery and re-use of these containers. Oil filters, too.  Sure... 
If you want to hear anger and annoyance on the other end of the phone, merely call a local recycling resources hotline and ask the poor person who answers the phone where to recycle oil bottles locally. The usual response is something bordering on "Stop asking me that @#$%^&* question, you *&^% idiot, before I blow my @#$%^&* brains out--or yours if I could just get at you first! I HATE THIS JOB!" 

Should be a local, universal system to do this.  Just as there should be for things like dry cell batteries, compact fluorescent bulbs, shoes and baby diapers for the people who can't or won't wash cloth ones.

Why not?  Simply this. All problems are solvable if we decide we want to. No problems are solvable if we decide that we can't because we have already decided that we won't. Problems aren't problems at all.

People are problems.  Problems go away when our thinking changes.  

Jesus wept...  And I don't think it was over gay marriage.  


No comments: