Plastic

It’s still quiet here. I have one novel nearly edited (a different one), the one I was doing before has been back to the author and is now back with revisions, there’s a short story book by another author and there’s the podcast ad.

If there is one failing in me, it’s that it never occurs to me to ask for help. It’s not ‘male pride’ or stubbornness (well maybe a little bit of stubbornness) it simply does not occur to me to ask. I’m going to have to give in soon though. I’ll have to get some freelance editors and cover artists involved at the rate the work is piling up.

I gave in on the podcast ad. Dr. Evil offered to do it for me if I provided the text. He has a well practiced and clear speaking voice and better sound equipment. My next investment has to be a half decent microphone! Mine mostly came from a pound shop… It’s now done and will be on the podcast next Monday. So it won’t be me speaking this one but I’ll have to get a few ready to go in case of another spontaneous chance at an advert. I also need good sound recording for story readings.

Anyway, that gets the digression out of the way early on. Now about those plastics…

I have always been a big believer in recycling. I suppose it stems from my childhood when we could take a bag of glass bottles back to the shop, get a few pennies per bottle and have a sweet binge on the proceeds. Back then, most sweets either came in a paper bag (measured out from a jar) or were individually wrapped in waxed paper. All of which would rot away harmlessly.

Oh I know, they weren’t ‘free sweets’ because the deposit was paid by whoever bought the bottle – but that was never us. Parents were happy to hand us the bottles and we found quite a few on Saturday and Sunday mornings after the older kids had a woodland beer binge. There were other sources too.

Then came the day when ‘No deposit – no return’ was moulded into the sides of the bottles. Disaster! No more free sweets!

And of course, all those woodland beer bottles and under-hedge drunken discards just stayed where they were because no kids were picking them up next morning. Bins started to fill with perfectly good bottles that could have been re-used and broken ones that could have been melted down and made into other things.

Worse, the reuseable milk bottles were replaced by card and plastic containers, then glass bottles were replaced with plastic ones, all of it non-returnable.

Fast forward a decade or so and you have the Greens shrieking at us for throwing away loads of plastic. Well, the milk comes in plastic bottles, as do most drinks now, so what are we to do? Cup our hands and carry it home that way?

I do not throw waste plastic into the sea, the river, of anywhere in the environment. I, like everyone else, have a special bin called ‘recycling’ that takes plastic, card and cans. This one does not take glass. That goes to a big bin near Local Shop once I accumulate enough to make it worth the diversion.

So what happens? Are those bin collecting trucks just magic portals that send all that recycling straight to the Pacific?

No. What happens is that the council sells the recycling (that they charge you to collect) to a recycling company who then ship it to China or Africa where they sort out what can be used and dump anything they don’t want into the rivers.

Sure, I’ve seen the argument that most of the crap in the sea comes from six rivers, but that’s because we send it there.

I have a friend who does not put cans in recycling. He crushes them and puts them in bins of his own, separating aluminium from steel, then takes them to the scrapyard and gets a few quid for them. That’s proper ground level recycling.

I have in the past attempted to make plastic bricks by hanging a frame on my chimenea and melting waste plastic in it. Not a great success that time. I’d like to try reviving that idea though.

You couldn’t build a house with them but a low garden wall, faced with cement and topped with flat stones? That could work to where nobody could tell the difference. However, real bricks are cheap so it wouldn’t be a great business option.

Unless you sell it as ‘green’ and you can do it on a scale where your plastic bricks cost no more than real ones, ideally less. As I said, bricks are cheap, but you need a lot for a wall so even a penny per brick saving could soon add up. Plus you have the virtue signalling and to many people these days, that’s a big selling point. There is also the point that filling the back of your car with plastic bricks would be far less damaging to your suspension than doing it with real ones.

Making one at a time on a chimenea isn’t really viable. You need a big melting pot and a whole raft of moulds to make loads at once. But I think it could work. If you’re talking about a low wall, ten bricks high, a few flawed ones won’t matter. And you could cut half-bricks with a saw or a hot wire.

That’s just bricks. You could make planks sized to order. Even mould-in fake grain. I’ve seen park benches made of recycled plastic. It can be done. You can already get garden furniture in a kit of moulded plastic parts – imagine the virtue signalling opportunites if it was clearly made out of recycled bottles!

Virtue signalling is a big thing with the smug and self-righteous now. Why not cash in on that?

I might have dreamed this or it might be real – was there ever a ‘stained glass’ type window made of glass bottles that were laid out and then melted so they all flattened and fused together? Whether it’s real or not, you could use the same idea to make a plastic greenhouse with clear plastic bottles. The plants inside don’t care about the aesthetics.

I don’t hear anything like this from those protesting plastics though. All I hear is shouting about how it’s all the supermarkets’ fault for packaging things in plastic.

Newsflash – they don’t. Their suppliers do.

What is the supermarket’s fault is the death of local small suppliers. I recall going to the local butcher and getting meat wrapped in paper that my grandmother carried home in her own shopping bag. Same at the greengrocer or the fishmonger. All those are now conglomerated into the supermarkets and the small ones are mostly gone. There are still some but they are rare and becoming more rare.

There used to be a good little lighting shop in a town I lived in. The nearby Tesco filled an aisle with lightbulbs of every type at lower prices. The lighting shop died. Tesco’s lighting section dropped to only the most common types. I can’t help feeling it was just pure malice. They killed the bookshop too and tried to kill the sporting goods shop – but since Tesco won’t sell shotguns or airguns or bows, they failed on that one. Tesco had a range of horse tack for a while but none of those horsey types are going for a Tesco Value hard hat or harness. The sporting goods shop is still there. So don’t imagine for a moment that I am on the side of the supermarkets. They are run by malicious bastards.

Even so, the latest idiotic protest involves plastic-feedback, espoused on the BBC by Huge Farty-Shittingstall. Unwrap the stuff you voluntarily bought, stuff all the plastic wrapping into a bag and take it back to the supermarket you willingly bought it from and then virtue signal that you are an EcoWarrior of the Ultimate Stupid Arseness. Or you could just not buy stuff wrapped in plastic… is that too hard a concept?

If you don’t put it in the bin, the supermarket will put it in the bin. Then it goes to exactly the same place as if you had put it in the bin yourself. It’s an exercise in utterly pointless dickery that makes a bunch of smug wankers feel really good about achieving nothing at all. Other than to make the lives of a few minimum wage workers that bit more miserable because it’s not the boss of the supermarket who has to clean up your silly protest. It’s the bottom tier staff who have no say at all in how any product is packaged.

Huge Farty-Shittingstall lauds Sainsbury’s for selling stuff that’s not in plastic packaging. They sell you cups to dispense things into from special dispensers so you aren’t taking home all that packaging. The dispensers, and the cup, are made of… plastic. Nice one Sainsbury. You caught the suckers fair and square there.

Look. Plastic can be melted down and made into other things. So can glass and so can metal. Don’t shriek about the amount of plastic being thrown away, ask why it’s not being recycled. And maybe come up with a few ideas about how it can be. Maybe even try them yourself.

But just getting someone else to put it in the bin for you? How does that help?

I hope the supermarkets ban every dickhead that does this.

12 thoughts on “Plastic

  1. If Huge Farty-Shittingstall was a real eco-worrier, he wouldn’t use St Burys, T Esco’s or any other supermarket. He’d support local butchers and grocers who don’t wrap everything in placcy. But there’s no virtue signalling in real virtue, is there?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Of course, we all know why the supermarkets are selling things in plastics, don’t we? It is because this is the only easy way to reduce the opportunity for cross-contamination and the food poisoning that this causes. The modern supermarkets are actually much, much better at reducing food waste than were the greengrocers and small shops of old; they do this not because of stupid arses running them about, but because efficiency increases profits.

      Supermarkets act as middle-men, essentially. They buy from farmers and sell on to the public, and if they can reduce the amount of stuff that they buy but cannot then sell on, then they make more profit. They only throw stuff away when they absolutely have to, and then only because it has aged beyond the parameters for them safely selling it.

      All of this virtue-signalling claptrap about giving out-of-date food away? Sheer bullshit, and it only happens because the food bank or whatever have signed away the right to sue the supermarket if the food causes poisoning. Similarly the food banks get away with this because they are not selling anything; there is no contract being set up between themselves and their customers.

      Liked by 1 person

      • The best before and use by dates have a big margin of error in them. They are the times after which the seller cannot guarantee their safety, but they can be okay even way past those dates. Common sense helps here.

        If you have a butcher’s shop or a greeengrocer, you are training your staff to handle one type of product safely. A supermnarket relies heavily on schoolkid and student temporary staff handling multiple types of product and the staff don’t care, it’s not a career, it’s pocket money.

        So yeah, supermarkets use plastic coverings to ensure food is safe. Go into a real butcher’s and the meat is behind glass, not in an open fridge. You can’t pick it up yourself, you have to point to what you want.

        Oh and the reason they don’t want to throw things away is because it costs them. Getting rid of food waste can be expensive. That’s why you can go into a supermarket in the evening and fill your freezer with heavily discounted food that’s on its last bit of ‘best before’ date. Better to sell a bag of buns for 7p than to pay 10p to bin them.

        I’ve worked in a supermarket, albeit a little, local one, and now know how to eat for very little money 😉

        And I won’t buy unwrapped goods in supermarkets. Nobody is watching when some little feral git licks the sugar off a doughnut and puts it back. I have witnessed this happening!

        Doesn’t happen in a baker’s shop. They don’t let you touch anything unless you’ve bought it.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Only Thermoplastics can be melted and re-used, Thermoset plastics char/decompose/burn when heated.
    Glass recycling for clear bottles etc works if there’s no mixing of green or brown in the clear glass bin, but otherwise it’s downgraded to brown. A lot of energy is needed to melt and reform glass, making recycling only just energy-efficient. Aluminium extraction & production is very energy-intensive, so recycling is very worthwhile. Huge Farty-Witless is a hypocritical twit.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Weight is an issue with glass containers – and plastic or aluminium allow more product to be delivered without going through the weight limit of trucks.

    It means us lot don’t need to pay so much for stuff we really don’t need.

    Best I’ve seen for the use of plastic are kerbstones and road bumps.

    https://www.alibaba.com/showroom/plastic-kerbs.html

    And in some countries they paint the concrete ones, so increasing the final cost – and they need repainting regularly. Plastic may be slightly more expensive, however they come colour pre impregnated – and they don’t crucify tyres or alloys if you kerb the vehicle.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I know someone who judiciously washes used plastic food containers is hot soapy water before putting them in the recycling bin.

    Her concern for the health council employees who have to empty our ‘recycling’ bin into the garbage truck before the council sends it to land-fill, is admirable.

    There are some fully qualified eco-warriors who are proud to not waste water & the energy used to heat it up, washing rubbish.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I have started to separate out plastic waste because energy dense waste is now being burned to generate electricity in our municipality (Tromsø, Norway). This makes sense as repurposing or recycling mixed plastics is an expensive mugs game.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. LDPE HDPE and polypropylene will melt at domestic oven temperatures, I’ve shredded, melted and cast them. Into blocks to carve and turn into new things. Can make nice swirled marble pattern in the liquid mix. Alternatively shred them, mix with newspaper pulp and sawdust and press/ cast into bricks ( a tablespoon of flour per gallon helps to make a starch gel that binds it all together. Will burn satisfactorily in a multifuel logburner. Don’t use PVC or polycarbonate this way though!!

    Liked by 1 person

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