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True or False?: The end of oil means the end of plastic.

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BurtWorm Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue May-25-04 10:49 AM
Original message
True or False?: The end of oil means the end of plastic.
If true, we're fast approaching the end of the Plastic Age, and I don't think we're quite ready for that. Just look around you at all the petroleum products you rely on and ask yourself, what's going to replace it?

I don't think this is anything we're going to have to deal with in the immediate future--some analysts think peak oil production is 30 years away. Some see it as less than 20 years away, however, so anyone who plans to be here in 2020 is going to have to start preparing for the end of the Plastic Age.
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LibLabUK Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue May-25-04 10:51 AM
Response to Original message
1. What about...
recycling the plastics we've already produced?

There must be millions of tonnes of the stuff buried in landfills that could be mined, refined and reused.
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BurtWorm Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue May-25-04 10:56 AM
Response to Reply #1
9. Probably even billions of tons. But how much can we really pull out of it?
It was occuring to me today that 1,000 years from now, if there are humans or "intelligent species" left to think about such things, they'll be digging into the earth and finding the plastic stratum, just as we've found the bronze and iron strata of cilvilizations before us. The difference will be that our human stratum of plastic bottles, diapers, toys, jewelry, etc., will be merged with a geological stratum of soot from industrial carbons covering everything around it.
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RobertSeattle Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue May-25-04 10:51 AM
Response to Original message
2. Why couldn't we just "mine" our trash dumps?
I would think we could create robots that could go though old garbage and pick out the "good stuff".

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0007 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue May-25-04 10:58 AM
Response to Reply #2
11. Now I know why they made you boss, LOL!
...let the robots do the work while we drink beer under a shady tree.
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RobertSeattle Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue May-25-04 11:16 AM
Response to Reply #11
25. Don't laugh - I already have a robotic lawn mower
I splurged and got one last year - I love watching it while sipping a beer...

http://www.friendlyrobotics.com/
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qwertyMike Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue May-25-04 10:51 AM
Response to Original message
3. We can only pray n/t
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ejcastellanos Donating Member (85 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue May-25-04 10:52 AM
Response to Original message
4. False - plant based plastic
There are already many programs to deliver plant based plastic in the works at universities. In fact, the first plastic was celluloid made from cellulose. Plastic may become more costly but it won't have to go away.
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Xithras Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue May-25-04 10:58 AM
Response to Reply #4
13. Yep, bioplastics
Bioplastic production has been ramping up for a few years now. Here's an article on a cornstarch based bioplastic that's not only 100% oil free, but is even 100% biodegradeable and environmentally friendly: http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/10.07/start.html?pg=...

The price will rise a bit because it costs more to refine bioplastics than petroplastics, but I consider that a GOOD thing. The inexpesive production costs of plastic have led to gross pollution and ushered in the "Disposeable Age" that we all live in today. If the cost and value of plastic rises, people will be less likely to throw it away.
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BurtWorm Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue May-25-04 11:10 AM
Response to Reply #13
21. Very interesting. So the next Age might actually be invisible
to ages that come after it. Because the products it makes and uses will degrade after use. That actually would be pretty cool. (And probably impossible.)
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buddhamama Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue May-25-04 11:04 AM
Response to Reply #4
17. glad you mentioned plant based plastic
i was going to, till i saw your post.

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LynzM Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue May-25-04 10:54 AM
Response to Original message
5. Or, we go back to using other types of products...
It could mean a big resurgance in metals/wood/paper products. Not necessarily better, just different. But I agree, that makes a big difference in all of our everyday products. I mean, just look at the computer/technology industry, and try to imagine it without plastics.... tough gig, huh? I think we will need to do a lot of figuring out how to recycle what we already have, and how to power the plants to do the recycling. It's a big, scary proposition!
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jukes Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue May-25-04 10:54 AM
Response to Original message
6. BW
can't find a link, but i've read seemingly reliable reports that hemp oil/fiber (male plants) are a viable source of alt plastics.




:smoke:
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BurtWorm Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue May-25-04 10:57 AM
Response to Reply #6
10. I've heard that, too.
:smoke:
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Bandit Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue May-25-04 11:02 AM
Response to Reply #6
16. Hemp makes better everything ~ Paper ~ Clothes ~ Plastic ~ Fuel
Hemp was America's number one export at one time in our history. We could eliminate all the harsh chemicals used to break down the pulp from timber for paper production and paper would not deteriorate as quickly as it now does. Hemp Rules
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bushgottago Donating Member (98 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue May-25-04 10:54 AM
Response to Original message
7. Plastic can be made from hay
Sorry - plastic is made from oil now - but it doesn't have to be. It can be made from methane gas - which you get from sewage or rotting hay in a methane digester.
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BurtWorm Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue May-25-04 10:58 AM
Response to Reply #7
12. I can make methane gas!
:nuke:
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namvet73 Donating Member (294 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue May-25-04 11:05 AM
Response to Reply #12
18. Watch out for broccoli! n/t
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wtmusic Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue May-25-04 10:56 AM
Response to Original message
8. If we reduced our energy consumption
there would be enough oil for plastics through the end of this century.
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BlueEyedSon Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue May-25-04 10:59 AM
Response to Original message
14. Nat gas will last a bit longer, and can be used
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JVS Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue May-25-04 11:00 AM
Response to Original message
15. I think plastics will stay
Edited on Tue May-25-04 11:01 AM by JVS
It is true that plastic costs will rise with oil prices, but the prices of alternatives to plastic (Aluminum, Glass, Paper) will also rise due to increased energy costs. Maybe paper might replace plastic where possible (it's not good for many uses of plastic) , but the extra energy needed for Glass or Aluminum probably would outweigh the increased price of the amount of oil necessary to make plastic.
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voice of reason Donating Member (161 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue May-25-04 11:07 AM
Response to Original message
19. I think we have just about enough plastic
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JVS Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue May-25-04 11:11 AM
Response to Reply #19
22. No way, plastic rules!
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Heddi Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue May-25-04 11:07 AM
Response to Original message
20. Medical Care in this country would cease to exist
I work in Medical Care.

Just off the top of my head, and looking around my immediate surroundings, these are the things that I think would be greatly impacted should we not have the use of plastics:

* Tubes used to collect blood. Standard is generally plastic tubes now. Used to be glass, but it's a fact of life that the tubes will bump against each other, be dropped, or otherwise pose a 'breaking' hazard should they be made of glass. Being a phlebotomist (one who takes blood), I'm exposed to enough BBP's (Blood borne pathogens) as it is. I carry around ALOT of blood samples on a daily basis. The containers have to be as shatter-proof as possible. In addition to the risk of blood leaking out, broken glass provides ample opportunity for cutting onseself, and infecting onseself with another's blood

* Cathaters, suction tubes, intubation tubes, respiratory tubes, IV tubes, IV bags, respiratory masks, etc....

* Waterproof/bloodproof gowns, hats, masks, etc, worn by medical professionals in all aspects of health care....

The great thing about plastics is that they're more inexpensive than glass or other products. Say, for example, a respiratory mask. That COULD be made of glass, but again, there's the issue of shattering (not a good thing, esp. if it shatters while on someone's face). There's the issue of sterilizing it. The issue of making sure it's not broken.

With plastic, a mask can be thrown away after use. Aside from ensuring that the sterile covering isn't broken, or otherwise compromised, there's no difficulty in storing it. It can fall on the floor and still be used. It can be cheaply made and thrown away, saving $$ that would be used having to autoclave EVERYTHING that is used.

I just don't see 98% of the things used in the OR (also where I do phlebotomy) that are plastic as being easily or feasibly replaced by non-plastic products.

If a more expensive product were used (whether non-petroleum plastics, or non-plastic products), the cost of medicine would skyrocket even HIGHER than it is now, and I feel that many of the life-saving procedures that Americans (and other's around the world) have come to rely on would become obsolete. Too much time would be spent trying to forumulate a non-plastic-component Pacemaker, or colostomy bag, or laparoscope, or whatever.

Daily life, on the other hand, would be a hardship, but I think that MOST things that we've come to love in Plastic could be easily used in non-plastic containers. Hell--my husband and I even do our part by buying products with as little plastic and/or packaging as possible. I just don't see, though, Glass Shampoo Bottles becoming the rage. Again---shampoo bottles fall in the shower all the time. I don't think i'd like having to worry about severely cutting my feet every time I wash my hair :-/
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JVS Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue May-25-04 11:13 AM
Response to Reply #20
23. Glass colostomy bags would not be nice
but it would sure beat waxed paper
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BurtWorm Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue May-25-04 11:13 AM
Response to Reply #20
24. Now would be a very good time to prepare for the changes in the medical
field. For the very reasons you cite. I don't think it would mean an end to health care so much as an end to health care as we know it.
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