10 am: Environmental Impacts of Single Use Plastic Use and Production

10:00 am – Environmental Impacts of Single Use Plastic Use and Production

Randi Pokladnik PhD, Mid Ohio Valley Climate Action

Dr. Pokladnik will discuss Shell’s new petrochemical plant being built in Potter PA. Three similar plants are being built to convert Ohio and PA fracked shale gas into polyethylene and other plastic pellets used mostly to make disposable single use plastic bags and containers. These materials while useful, are not biodegradable and pose mounting pollution problems in the world’s agricultural and natural areas, oceans and cities. These facilities generate new plastics from fossil shale gas taken from deep wells that scar the natural environment above ground and contaminate water below. This investment is occurring, ironically, while 86% of disposable water bottles used in the United States become garbage or litter, adding 38 billion disposable water bottles to U.S. landfills. The water bottling process itself releases 2.5 million tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere annually. Clean drinking water is available from drinking fountains in nearly all public buildings and petitions to end the use and purchasing of water bottles by Universities, schools, churches, government and businesses will hopefully lead to the end of this wasteful, Earth destroying, unnecessary practice.

A recent Carnegie Mellon study showed that the health and climate impacts of the plastics industry in the Ohio river valley far outweigh the economic benefits to Ohio and Pennsylvania communities. Corporations producing these materials take zero responsibility for collecting or recycling the plastics they introduce into our environment. They expect governments to figure out how, and citizens to pay for, disposing of their pollution. The linear use of Earth’s resources continues, despite known circular solutions, largely due to a lack of imagination, creativity, commitment and investment on the part of citizens.