Study: Plastic will pile up

LIHUE — While China put the kibosh on accepting plastic waste from other countries, Kauai Recycles drop bins have nearly doubled in the past fiscal year.

Allison Fraley of the Kauai County Recycling Office said the average total of plastic deposited in all eight Kauai Recycles drop bins has been 8.5 tons per month this fiscal year, which is higher than last fiscal year at 4.75 tons per month.

“There is significantly more plastic collected through the HI5 Deposit Beverage Container (DBC) program,” Fraley said,

HI5 DBC recycling averages 32 tons per month.

Program changes in February included the county’s cessation of accepting plastic trays and clamshells.

It came just after the December 2017 China decision to stop accepting plastic waste from around the globe which has sent the world searching for a place to send millions of pounds of plastic.

A recent study from the University of Georgia found that by the year 2030, more than 122 million tons of plastic that would have found its way to Chinese shores will now have to find a new home.

The study was published Wednesday in the journal Science Advances.

Using United Nations data, it found that China has been the king of plastic importation for years, accounting for about 45 percent of the world’s plastic waste since 1992.

Scientists say China has taken more than 116 million tons of plastic since 1992, the equivalent weight of more than 300 Empire State Buildings and wealthy countries like the United States, Germany, and Japan are looking at other ways to deal with plastic waste.

“This is a wake-up call. Historically, we’ve been depending on China to take in this recycled waste and now they’re saying no,” said study author Amy Brooks, a doctoral student in engineering at the University of Georgia.

Other countries are starting to follow suit, Brooks says, with Thailand, Vietnam and Malaysia becoming overburdened with plastic waste and looking to enforce bans of their own.

She says the likely resting place for this wayward plastic is in landfills. Fraley said Kauai County doesn’t track the material types going into the Kauai landfill each month, but does track recycling activity.

Recyclables on Kauai are shipped out continuously by the contractor Garden Isle Disposal, Inc. (GID) and they keep materials moving to keep space in their warehouse, according to County of Kauai.

Traditionally, cardboard, mixed paper, newspaper and plastics have been shipped to China, but the county has been keeping abreast of the China issue through trade magazines and industry webinars and has been working with GID on alternate shipping destinations.

Indonesia and Taiwan are some of the new locations where GID is sending recyclables.

Scientists say that while it’s important to find a resting place for the plastic in circulation, it’s even more paramount to slow the production of the material itself or to find new ways to recycle plastic.

“We need to look at new uses for these materials,” said Marjorie Griek of the National Recycling Coalition. “How do you get manufacturers to design a product that is more easily recyclable?”


Associated Press contributed to this report.

  1. Charlie Chimknee June 22, 2018 9:41 am Reply

    Since plastic is made from oil, it is referred to as being a substance of petro chemicals. Coal tars are also made into Petro chemicals, oil and coal tar make a huge amount of things used today in (on) the world. A unique thing about petroleum and coal tar made products are that they are carcinogenic, that means they cause cancer.

    One of the reasons there has been so much argument over the use of the Agricultural Chemicals used on Kaua’i and many other places in the world is that the poison Agricultural Chemcials are made from petroleum (oil) and coal tars (a solid form of petroleum compared to liquid such as we all know oil is.. That means that those chemcials cause cancer in humans and are also thought to cause birth defects of the brain and nervous system, which is the computer for the human body. Two of the more popular petrochemicals are Glyphosate and Chlorpyrifos. Approximately 90 countries in the world have banned these petrochemicals from us in their countries.

    Chlorpyrifos is now banned but they are ONLY just phasing it out so big farmers and Big Pharm (pharmaceutical companies) can use up what they have in stock pile and also be able to buy more to stock pile for future use, sort of like skirting around the ban.

    When you think of the odds of losing your life from these poisons, you can consider the prevailing Tradewinds to be in your favor if you live on the North or East side of the island, as the poison chemical insecticide and herbicide users are mostly on the Westside, or Downwind, or Ground ZERO. The farm workers and their families are exposed to the poison 320 days a year from the spraying? And then there are the neighbors and students and patients who live in the “drift” of the poison spray. Well you can say it is not as bad as living in Leilani Gardens on the Big Island…! Waiting for the flaming black BLOB to roll on over your home and property, but at least with LAVA there is warnings and orders to leave, compared to the spray in and spray out 320 days a year and only verbal confrontations as warnings.

    So oil and it’s petrochemicals are everywhere and make much of most anything, like the polyester in your clothing, the chemical additives in your food, the synthetic colors, flavors, preservatives, and lots of other additives all used to make your rotten and dead food look like it is still alive, as well as about 90% of the prescription drugs and the over the counter drugs too, that are made from oil and coal tars. And let’s not forget all the hardware made from oil…tires, roads, computers, electronic containers, car seat covers, furniture, carpets, it’s almost endless, until we run out of oil.

    So is there a solution to the plastic dumping grounds such as street litter, or the island refuse stations or the trash mountain in Kekaha, or the Great Pacific Garbage Patch northeast of Hawaii, or the China Stronghold of Plastic?

    Well, they claim plastic can be melted back into oil…! So why not do that and put it in our cars to make more air pollution, or into our bodies as food additives and medicines, and of course make more plastic.

    When you do not know about your body as doctors should, you would think that the cancer causing petrochemicals go into your body by swallowing, breathing, or injection…and then just disappear…no problem…except those chemicals poison your body’s organs and disrupt your body’s systems and functions, therefore you get MALfunctions in your body and you are told you need more petrochemicals.

    The result is you die EARLIER…!

    You know you can confidently say to a heavy smoker that you know when they are going to die. And when they say WHEN? You can say EARLIER…!

    EARLIER…or…LATER…? A Responsible Question…with an Answer…only you can…



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