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Which is better to use from an environmental standpoint?

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GoddessOfGuinness Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Mar-10-06 07:05 PM
Original message
Which is better to use from an environmental standpoint?
Waxed paper or plastic wrap?

Maybe it sounds like a dumb question; but this is a difference-of-opinion settler...
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In_The_Wind Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Mar-10-06 07:40 PM
Response to Original message
1. I'm gust guessin' here:
waxed paper
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LeftyMom Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Mar-10-06 07:42 PM
Response to Original message
2. Well the wax is usually petroleum derived and the paper is generally
chlorine bleached. I'm guessing they're just about equally bad for the enviornment but the waxed paper isn't as bad for you. If you can get unbleached wax paper at the health food store, that's probably a bit better.
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Lisa Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Mar-10-06 07:45 PM
Response to Original message
3. not dumb -- a good question!
Edited on Fri Mar-10-06 08:00 PM by Lisa
I teach an environmental science class, and although this hasn't come up in a research project yet -- some of the points in the paper cup vs. styrofoam debate might be useful.

--neither waxed paper nor plastic wrap are accepted by most recycling programs, BUT there's some evidence that waxed paper products are more likely to decompose over time ... so if your municipality has a composting program, it may accept that kind of waste
http://www.environmental-expert.com/magazine/biocycle/s...

From what I can recall, the main feedstock for the plastic wrap is likely to be natural gas (unless it's specified as post-consumer). This is a non-renewable resource, and its extraction has considerable negative impacts on the environment. On a small scale, it's possible to wash and re-use plastic wrap for a couple of times (I did this during high school).

The waxed paper is made from, well, paper (issues include harvesting of old-growth forests, and chemical pollution during processing, and the use of fossil fuels to dry out the paper pulp) -- and the wax is probably a petroleum product (I haven't seen any commercial wax paper that uses beeswax). So it's got some problems too, even though some places recycle it (but this is for stuff like label backings, not food wrappers).
http://www.thanksgivingcoffee.com/resource_library/envi...

Greenpeace has a directory of companies which make more environmentally-friendly paper products (not implicated in old-growth clearcutting, do a lot of recycling, use chlorine-free processes) ... I don't think they list waxed paper specifically, but it would be a reasonable assumption that a company which they rate highly might have a better record for all its products. (I don't know where the waxed-paper manufacturers get their paper from, but I suppose one could call head office and check.)
http://www.greenpeace.ca/e/campaign/boreal/depth/aff /
http://www.commondreams.org/news2004/1118-17.htm

I think I would go with the waxed paper (the compost factor, and also because they seem to be a bit further along with the sustainable manufacturing thing ... the plastics industry hasn't done as much about recycling as it could, in theory), but admittedly it's not an easy choice.

From the US Department of Energy ...
http://www.eia.doe.gov/kids/energyfacts/saving/recyclin...

"In recent years, several plastics recycling companies have closed their doors. They claimed they could not sell their products at a price that would allow them to stay in business. Thanks to the relatively low cost of petroleum today, the price of virgin plastic is so inexpensive that recycled plastic cannot compete. The price of virgin resin is about 40 percent lower than that of recycled resin.

Because recycled plastic is more expensive, people arent exactly lining up to buy it. Surveys conducted by Procter & Gamble and others show that while most people expect their plastic to be recycled, they wont go out of their way or pay a few cents more to buy a bottle made of recycled plastic. Recyclers say plastics recycling wont be profitable until we close the loop by creating more demand for recycled plastics."


This is about stretch film for pallets -- saran-type wrap, unfortunately, hasn't attracted as much interest.
http://www.plastics.ca/topics/default.php?ID=49
"EPIC has also developed a Best Practices Guide for the Collection and Handling of Polyethylene Plastic Bags and Film in Municipal Curbside Recycling Programs in order to help improve quality and consistency of this material. As well, EPIC has developed sample print, radio and TV ads all downloadable for use by municipalities to help educate residents on recycling plastic bags (Click here for Sample Ads or Click here for a template of a Plastic Bag Recycling Flyer). Additionally, EPIC has a Stretch Wrap Recycling Guide available for those businesses interested in starting their own stretch wrap recycling program."
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GoddessOfGuinness Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Mar-10-06 08:26 PM
Response to Reply #3
6. Thank you for your post!
You obviously put a lot of thought into it.

I'm sorry to hear that plastics recycling companies have shut down. It seems to me that these businesses offer a great employment opportunity for many intellectually-challenged people, to give them hope for a more self-sufficient lifestyle.

Thanks again for taking the time to pull this info together! :hi:
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democracyindanger Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Mar-10-06 07:45 PM
Response to Original message
4. Neither are recyclable
but you can buy waxed paper created from recycled materials, so I suppose waxed paper by a hair.
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Kali Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Mar-10-06 08:05 PM
Response to Original message
5. a reusable container with a lid.
*********what a smartass, I know. sorry.
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GoddessOfGuinness Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Mar-10-06 08:28 PM
Response to Reply #5
7. Which is what I use, when possible or feasible...
But sometimes it's not.
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Hugin Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Mar-10-06 08:33 PM
Response to Original message
8. As I watched the swirling Wal-mart bags circling the hi-way the other day
I wondered exactly the same thing.

I read somewhere that most plastics are made with a corn starch type powder
which increases the rate at which they decay. They turn to a powder after a few
months.

The downside is that for this rot to take place they must be exposed to the
sun... Otherwise, they partially break down and then there are thousands more
bag flakes flying around.

:shrug:
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Lisa Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Mar-10-06 08:55 PM
Response to Reply #8
9. I know what you mean, Prag ...
My neighbors have the attitude that dog doo and cornstarch plastic are both biodegradeable, so what's wrong with flinging their poop bags into the tree at the end of our street, rather than putting them into the trash can. This means that during most of the year, the wretched tree is festooned with soiled plastic bags in various stages of decomposition (and is it ever a relief when the leaves come out in the spring, and conceal some of this delightful sight).

I think the jury is still out, on whether starch-based plastics (or wax paper, for that matter) will break down readily when they've been buried in a landfill. Ideally there would be no bag flakes (no littering to begin with), but I guess it's marginally better than having deep-buried stuff that could be down there for centuries.
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GoddessOfGuinness Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Mar-10-06 09:00 PM
Response to Reply #9
10. It does seem like the country has gotten trashier over the last 10 years
They used to have "Please don't litter" commercials on TV. I don't know if they'd do any good or not; but what could they hurt?
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Lisa Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Mar-10-06 09:06 PM
Response to Reply #10
11. in the meantime, I have to walk past that tree every day!
Averting my eyes ... I'm not that squeamish, but the sight of all those poop-bags dangling there, all forlorn, can be a bit much. I'm actually glad that darkness comes early at this time of year!

(sigh)


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GoddessOfGuinness Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Mar-10-06 10:23 PM
Response to Reply #11
15. I'm typically not the sort to file complaints,
but in this case, I'd make an exception, if you've got a code-enforcement office. That sounds like a health hazard...
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Kali Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Mar-10-06 09:22 PM
Response to Reply #9
12. that's sick
I think they need to have those bags deposited in or at least ON one of their vehicles.

God, why bother to even pick it up????!!!!!
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crispini Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Mar-10-06 09:25 PM
Response to Reply #9
13. Dude. Nassssssssssty.
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bertha katzenengel Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Mar-10-06 09:26 PM
Response to Original message
14. Waxed paper.
It won't harm or kill the animals who eat it in the landfills. :cry:
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GoddessOfGuinness Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Mar-10-06 11:09 PM
Response to Reply #14
16. Good point...
That's part of the reason I recently started using it again. One of my cats loves to pull plastic wrap out of the trash and clean up clam chowder remnants... :-(
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