Earth Day 2018: Ending the Plastic Pollution Problem

Author: Ryan Meagher | Business Development Representative

Ending plastic pollution is the topic for Earth Day 2018, and for good reason.  Plastic is everywhere that it shouldn’t be.  It is in our oceans, landfills, and can even be present in trace amounts in our bodies.

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For the sake of reference, and before we get into the details, here are some staggering facts about plastic that everyone should know:

  • It takes 500-1,000 years for plastic to degrade.
  • There are 6.3 billion tonnes of plastic waste on Earth.
  • Annually approximately 500 billion plastic bags are used worldwide.
  • More than one million bags are used every minute.
  • A plastic bag has an average “working life” of 15 minutes.
  • We are now producing over 300 million tons of plastic every year, half of which is for single use.
  • More than 8 million tons of plastic is dumped into our oceans every year.

References:

https://www.conserve-energy-future.com/intriguing-facts-about-plastic-pollution.php

http://www.cbc.ca/news/technology/humans-produce-billions-tonnes-plastic-1.4210279

https://plasticoceans.org/the-facts/

Now that you have a fresh sense of angst for how poorly we utilize plastics, let’s frame the problem and figure out how to solve it.  Ending plastic pollution is not about cutting out plastic from our lives, it is about making a fundamental shift in how we think about the lifecycle of a piece of plastic.  It is easy to understand the problem with a simple equation:

Plastic Manufactured – Plastic Recycled/Reused = Plastic Pollution Generated

Plastic Manufactured is Increasing

Since plastics manufacturing is expected to keep increasing as demand for more plastic products increases (see figure below), it is imperative that the focus is on increasing the rate of recycling and reuse of plastics to help generate less pollution. Industries that rely heavily on the use of plastics, including the Water Treatment industry, must create solutions that reduce the amount of plastic that goes to the landfill.

Reducing Plastic Pollution Generated

There are two main methods that we have successfully implemented within our client base that promotes the reduction of plastic pollution generated:

  1. Recycling empty chemical containers that have already been used at a facility.
  2. Eliminating the use of plastic shipping containers by installing permanent on-site containment tanks.

Recycling Plastic Shipping Containers

Eldon Water offers all of our clients a complimentary container recycling service.  Recycling used drums, kegs, and pails helps reduce the amount of plastic containers that are sent to the landfill.  The service involves picking up empty containers at the same time as new containers are being dropped off, which doesn’t contribute to our overall environmental footprint due to transportation.

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Eliminating Plastic Shipping Containers!

Eldon Water created a service called Demand DeliveryTM, which completely eliminates the need for plastic shipping containers.

Our delivery specialists utilize reusable stainless steel delivery tanks to allow transfer of chemicals to permanent on-site storage tanks.  This method is both safer and more environmentally friendly than swapping disposable plastic shipping containers.

Demand DeliveryTM solves many problems:
  • The risk associated with transferring chemical containers is reduced, which improves health and safety protocols within an organization.
  • The resources needed at a facility to maintain chemical inventory is reduced by having the inventory managed by the water treatment provider.
  • The investment in on-site chemical containment tanks allows for a prolonged lifecycle of a given piece of plastic since these containers last longer than a traditional drum, keg or pail of chemical.
  • The need for plastic shipping containers is completely eliminated, which reduces the amount of plastic that ends up in landfills.

Choose to Reduce Your Plastic Consumption

Having the tools to solve the problem are one thing, but first we must make a fundamental shift in how we think about the lifecycle of a piece of plastic.  Educating people on ways to reduce plastic pollution should be the first step in ensuring that we can begin to end it.  As long as the solutions are in place and goals are set, we believe that it can be done.

Choose to reduce your plastic consumption by talking to your Eldon Water representative about switching to our Demand DeliveryTM program.

Ryan Meagher has a degree in Chemical Engineering from Queen’s University.  As a Business Development Representative, Ryan promotes our unique value in the water treatment industry to end users with established heating and cooling applications.  During his time at university, Ryan was an integral member of Canada’s largest undergraduate conference on the environment and sustainability, so it was a natural transition and exciting opportunity for him to become an active member of our Sustainability Committee.  During his free time Ryan enjoys doing videography and Crossfit.

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