Folks, this is about my "consumption" of plastic over the next year. I'm looking at what I have, what I buy, and why I seem to need this hundred and fifty year old man-made concoction more than my mother's fried chicken.
Sunday, August 2, 2009
I was just chatting with a friend the other day about how much we love lists...love creating them, love checking everything off when we have completed the self-inflicted task. What I also love are factoids & statistics. So, I thought I would try and wrangle some interesting facts and statistics (given that 85% of all statistics are wrong) related to plastics for all of you factoid list junkies.
80%: the percentage of plastic bottles that are landfilled in the US.*
70%: the percentage of plastics that are sourced from natural gas.*
166: the average number of plastic water bottles that one American disposes of in a year.*
3,214: the number of BTU's required to manufacture 1 HDPE (#2) bottle.*
2,155: the number of BTU's required to manufacture 1 glass bottle.
2,013: the number of BTU's required to manufacture 1 PET (#1) bottle.
5.8 million: the number of of BTU's in 1 barrel of crude oil (42 gallons).*
1: the number of BTU's in a match
BTU-commentary-interlude-side-bar-tangent: I admit, I am perplexed by the measurement of energy. Physics, Chemistry, Engineering? Not really my forte. My mind is a little more suited to taxonomy, literature, and the arts. However, I am trying to wrap my head around the British Thermal Unit and this is already challenging because I am an American. We Americans, in our Frank Sinatra-"My Way"-kind-of-attitude about things, have imposed a cultural retardation upon ourselves. Choosing to be special & independent rather than practical & unified, we insist on measuring the world using the USA System of Measurement (aka, a copycat of The Imperial System) rather than the "other" (metric) system that some of those "other" (the rest of the world other than Liberia and Burma) people use. Compared to the 10 metric units of measurement, there are 300 units of measurement in the USA/Imperial System including the "Mark Twain", which is the minimum safe clearance for steam wheel boats (set to 2 fathoms). Sam Clemens must have liked the sound of that because he chose it as his pen name. Why make things simple when they can be colorful and complicated? But I digress. Back to the list.1995: the year of the highest rate (27.9%) of recycling between 1991-2006.*
2%: the percentage of crude oil that plastic packaging consumes.*
60-90%: the average recycling rate in bottle bill states (Royte, Bottlemania, 156).
23%: the average recycling rate in non-bottle bill states (Royte, Bottlemania, 156).
3.5-7 million tons: the amount of plastic found in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.*
12.1%: the percentage of the US solid waste stream that plastic occupies.*
17 million: the # of barrels of oil that goes into the production of water bottles in the US each YEAR (Royte, Bottlemania, 139).
20 million: the number of barrels of oil that the US consumes every DAY (Royte, Bottlemania, 139).
6:1: the ratio (in pounds) of ocean plastic to zooplankton (2002 study by Charles Moore, Algalita Marine Research Foundation).
$0.15: the price that Ireland charges per plastic bag which has resulted in a 90% reduction in use (Royte, Garbage land, 192).
$15 billion: What American spent on bottled water in 2006. *
Priceless: the cost of reusing containers & reducing the amount of plastics in your life.