Plastic

Climate Hack? How Plastics Could Help Save Us From Greenhouse Gases

Publication: NBC News   Date: August 30, 2014   View Article

What’s the fix for a warming planet? Just one word: Plastics.

As the world grapples with greenhouse gas emissions still rising despite years of political wrangling over how to combat global climate change, a technology to convert carbon dioxide and methane into plastic is emerging as one potential market-driven solution. To boot, the process can be less expensive than producing plastics from petroleum.

“You have a new paradigm where plastics are saving the economy a whole lot of money, they are replacing oil, and in the process we are actually sequestering carbon emissions that would otherwise go into the air,” Mark Herrema, the co-founder and chief executive officer of Newlight Technologies in Irvine, Calif., explained to NBC News.

The market for plastics is massive — and thus the ability to sequester carbon. Plastics are found everywhere from beverage and food containers to toys, furniture and car parts. About 280 million tons of the stuff is produced every year, according to industry statistics.

Plastic bottles made with plants

Publication: msnbc.com   Date: September 16, 2011   View Article

Travel to almost anywhere in the world and chances are high that a bottle of Coke or Pepsi is close at hand. That’s why the development and rollout of plastic bottles made with at least a portion of plant materials is potentially good news for the environment.

The Coca-Cola Co. made headlines in the UK Monday with the rollout there of its plastic bottle made with up to 30 percent plant material. The bottle is an identical match with polyethylene terephthalate (PET), a type of recyclable plastic widely used around the world.

See-through battery in the works

Publication: msnbc.com   Date: July 25, 2011   View Article

Imagine a smartphone that looks like a piece of clear plastic, lighting up to display contacts, a game, the weather, or email from a friend. That future may be upon us thanks to a new, transparent and flexible lithium-ion battery.

Lithium-ion batteries are the type of energy storage devices that power consumer electronics such as smartphones.

Transparent components of gadgets such as touch screens, displays, and optical circuits have been fabricated, but until now, batteries have prevented fully see-through gadgets from entering the marketplace because the materials used to make batteries are not see-through.

Plastic Bag Bans Gaining Momentum Around the World

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: April 4, 2008   View Article

From Australia to the U.K., and all across the U.S., politicians and corporations are pondering banning or taxing plastic bags.

Ocean Debris: Habitat for Some, Havoc for Environment, Experts Say

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: April 23, 2007   View Article

Look under a chunk of plastic afloat in the ocean and you’re likely to spot a fish or two. But look inside the stomach of a dead albatross or sea turtle and you’re likely to find chunks of plastic.

So goes the paradoxical legacy of plastic debris in the ocean.

Are Plastic Grocery Bags Sacking the Environment?

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: September 2, 2003   View Article

The “paper or plastic” conundrum that vexed earnest shoppers throughout the 1980s and 90s is largely moot today. Most grocery store baggers don’t bother to ask anymore. They drop the bananas in one plastic bag as they reach for another to hold the six-pack of soda. The pasta sauce and noodles will get one too, as will the dish soap.

Plastic bags are so cheap to produce, sturdy, plentiful, easy to carry and store that they have captured at least 80 percent of the grocery and convenience store market since they were introduced a quarter century ago, according to the Arlington, Virginia-based American Plastics Council.

Cousteau Finds “Horrifying” Trash on Desert Islands

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: July 28, 2003   View Article

Derelict fishing nets, plastic bottles, cigarette lighters, television tubes, spray cans, broken toys, and thousands of other pieces of plastic and non-biodegradable junk converge on the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands every year, scarring a seascape nearly void of people with tons of human waste.

“It’s absolutely horrifying the scope of seeing it uncontained out here and definitely impacting the environment,” said Jean-Michel Cousteau in an e-mail to National Geographic News sent from the Searcher. “Every time we go ashore, we are startled and shocked by the amount of debris that systematically litters the coastlines and reefs.”

© 2008-2010 Collected Writings By John Roach