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Singaporeans obsession with Plastic bags

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sundaymorningstaple
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Postby sundaymorningstaple » Mon, 28 Jan 2013 11:49 am

*looks at SMS strangely*


See. And I didn't even ask you for a plastic bag! :P

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Postby rajagainstthemachine » Mon, 28 Jan 2013 2:12 pm

sundaymorningstaple wrote:
*looks at SMS strangely*


See. And I didn't even ask you for a plastic bag! :P


There's a plastic bag sticking out of your ear :P

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Postby canucklehead » Sun, 17 Feb 2013 1:01 am

hi, cant believe this is my first post. i'm brand-new to this forum and brand-new to the country (about 1.5 months). i also noticed the plastic bag thing as well. it's so backward in today's world. grew up in vancouver, and lived in hong kong for the last 2 years, both places have levies against plastic bags. i believe vancouver is now trying to out right ban plastic bags (unless they are bio-degradable).

as for "garbage bags", i've been using the plastic bag packaging for many years, like for potato chips, frozen peas/corn, fresh veggies, instant noodles/pasta...etc. more often than not, i would have too much plastic packaging saved and need to recycle them.

i also had cashiers looking at me funny when i told them no plastic bags. in hk, cashiers actually praise you for being environmental friendly and not taking a plastic bag.

also noticed that the residential building recycling bins require no separation. do they hire people sorting through the bins here?

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Postby Brah » Sun, 17 Feb 2013 7:41 am

Actually I can believe it's your first post, some first-time posters seem to have difficulty with things like proper capitalization, etc.
canucklehead wrote:hi, cant believe this is my first post. i'm brand-new . i also ... it's so backward in today's world. grew up in vancouver, and lived in hong kong ....

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Postby WanWanWan » Sun, 17 Feb 2013 10:55 am

I have some experience with chemistry, and let me tell you, the recyclable materials thing is actually much worse than it looks like at first glance.

Most biodegradable plastics actually only decompose either when they get wet or if left in UV sunlight for a couple of years. For shopping, a bag that will dissolve if you put something wet in it isn't going to work, so they use the sunlight ones, which are promptly put at the bottom of a landfill where they get no sunlight and cannot decompose, making them just as bad as the regular kind.

And then there are the reusable fabric bags they are pushing recently (in several countries, at least, although maybe not Singapore yet by the sounds of it). It turns out these are doing even more damage to the environment, because they produce hundreds of times more pollution when being manufactured, and they take even longer to decompose.

I'm simplifying, and it's not all that bleak, but you do need to be aware that, as others have said, most of the reason why any company pushes biodegradable, recyclable, or reusable plastics is to tick boxes and make you feel good, not because it is actually going to have any positive effect.

Oh, and if you want a good accessible example of a plastic that decomposes with water? Try a Cadbury's Milk Tray (not sure if they sell them in Singapore). The 'tray' part dissolves pretty quickly if you get it wet, and is then edible (but it tastes like cardboard).

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Postby Brah » Sun, 17 Feb 2013 11:21 am

WanWanWan wrote:Oh, and if you want a good accessible example of a plastic that decomposes with water? Try a Cadbury's Milk Tray (not sure if they sell them in Singapore). The 'tray' part dissolves pretty quickly if you get it wet, and is then edible (but it tastes like cardboard).

Although it's edible, how safe is it? Doesn't the plastic leach into the food, especially in hot weather?

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Postby rajagainstthemachine » Sun, 17 Feb 2013 11:23 am

3W are you trying to say that the stuff we currently use are better off than using products which are recyclable?

1.Polystyrene aka styrofoam

It was invented by The Dow Chemical Company those assholes have the worst track record in environment pollution and chemical poisoning.
yet humanity continues to support the stupid products they make

Problems:

As foam take-out containers are entirely made out of polystyrene foam, these containers have an impact on the environment as they do not biodegrade.

Styrene is regarded as a "hazardous chemical", especially in case of eye contact, but also in case of skin contact, of ingestion and of inhalation, according to several sources. Styrene is largely metabolized into styrene oxide in humans, resulting from oxidation by cytochrome P450. styrene oxide is considered toxic, mutagenic, and possibly carcinogenic

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has described styrene to be "a suspected toxin to the gastrointestinal tract, kidney, and respiratory system, among others. On 10 June 2011, the U.S. National Toxicology Program has described styrene as "reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen"

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Postby rajagainstthemachine » Sun, 17 Feb 2013 11:43 am

2. Plasticizers (phthalates) and bisphenol A (BPA) are chemicals found in lots of household products. Some of the products you can find them in are:
food and drink containers
packaging
lotions
toys
flooring
water pipes

Plasticizers are used to make plastics last longer and be more flexible. Chemicals from this group are also used as perfume fixatives in cosmetic and personal care products, including baby products.
BPA helps to make plastic clear and shatterproof. It is also used to line food tins and the metal lids of jars, and as a flame retardant

Hazards:

Bisphenol A is thought to be an endocrine disruptor which can mimic estrogen and may lead to negative health effects

in fact this particular product has so many health hazards that you need to read this
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bisphenol_A#Health_effects

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Postby rajagainstthemachine » Sun, 17 Feb 2013 11:51 am

WanWanWan wrote:I have some experience with chemistry, and let me tell you, the recyclable materials thing is actually much worse than it looks like at first glance.


The damage caused due to the side effects on human/animals due to long term exposure of plastics far outweighs any other merit [other than convenience] that our current plastic usage provides.

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Postby WanWanWan » Sun, 17 Feb 2013 12:08 pm

Brah wrote:Although it's edible, how safe is it? Doesn't the plastic leach into the food, especially in hot weather?


It's made from cornstarch. Perfectly safe and edible, don't you worry. You get all the same substances in a corn fritter, plus some actual flavour.

rajagainstthemachine wrote:3W are you trying to say that the stuff we currently use are better off than using products which are recyclable?


No, just as I said, a lot of the default 'go-to' recyclable products aren't actually much better, or are worse. There are of course better options out there, but many companies don't encourage recylables for the interest of the environment so much as for their own corporate image or requirements. Yes, a lot of what we use is bad, and also a lot is not. But many of our 'solutions' are really just ways to satisfy company requirements and don't have any actual positive effects in the end. It is just worth keeping in mind that many marketed recyclable and biodegradable plastics are not by default better. Even a quick net search can help sort things out.

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Postby Brah » Sun, 17 Feb 2013 12:21 pm

WanWanWan wrote:
Brah wrote:Although it's edible, how safe is it? Doesn't the plastic leach into the food, especially in hot weather?


It's made from cornstarch. Perfectly safe and edible, don't you worry. You get all the same substances in a corn fritter, plus some actual flavour.

You might believe that but I don't.

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Postby rajagainstthemachine » Sun, 17 Feb 2013 12:28 pm

WanWanWan wrote:It's made from cornstarch. Perfectly safe and edible, don't you worry. You get all the same substances in a corn fritter, plus some actual flavour.


I've seen those, we have coffee cups in the office made of that substance


WanWanWan wrote:No, just as I said, a lot of the default 'go-to' recyclable products aren't actually much better, or are worse. There are of course better options out there, but many companies don't encourage recylables for the interest of the environment so much as for their own corporate image or requirements. Yes, a lot of what we use is bad, and also a lot is not. But many of our 'solutions' are really just ways to satisfy company requirements and don't have any actual positive effects in the end. It is just worth keeping in mind that many marketed recyclable and biodegradable plastics are not by default better. Even a quick net search can help sort things out.


I see what you mean and yes I agree with you on that point.

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Postby x9200 » Sun, 17 Feb 2013 2:42 pm

rajagainstthemachine wrote:2. Plasticizers (phthalates) and bisphenol A (BPA) are chemicals found in lots of household products.[..]
Hazards:

Bisphenol A is thought to be an endocrine disruptor which can mimic estrogen and may lead to negative health effects

in fact this particular product has so many health hazards that you need to read this
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bisphenol_A#Health_effects

My Mom is a pretty old lady so she has naturally some health related problems and often goes to a doctor. The doctor prescribes her medicine, she goes back home and then before she starts to take it, reads first all the data available especially on side effects and hazards. So for example, she may find that the medicine can damage her liver if taken too long or overdosed, or kidneys, stuff like this. She is sometimes so impressed by the list of hazards that she does not take the medicine. She probably thinks a bit over the line that it must be a very dangerous medicine if on the list of possible hazards there is anything that sounds not quite right. I already gave up long time ago trying to explain to her that the exposure level and time is a key (no, I am not using with her this kind kind of language) and that practically everything including Oxygen can be toxic. She is a sort of victim of her own fears but in other areas people are often victims of various eco-terrorists.

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Postby WanWanWan » Sun, 17 Feb 2013 3:08 pm

x9200 wrote:My Mom is a pretty old lady so she has naturally some health related problems and often goes to a doctor. The doctor prescribes her medicine, she goes back home and then before she starts to take it, reads first all the data available especially on side effects and hazards. So for example, she may find that the medicine can damage her liver if taken too long or overdosed, or kidneys, stuff like this. She is sometimes so impressed by the list of hazards that she does not take the medicine. She probably thinks a bit over the line that it must be a very dangerous medicine if on the list of possible hazards there is anything that sounds not quite right. I already gave up long time ago trying to explain to her that the exposure level and time is a key (no, I am not using with her this kind kind of language) and that practically everything including Oxygen can be toxic. She is a sort of victim of her own fears but in other areas people are often victims of various eco-terrorists.


Excellent point. Nothing is either "good" or "bad"; there is a spectrum. Even water is toxic in big enough volumes. It is easy to be mislead by the many minor side effects things can have. What is sometimes worse is how correlation-causation confounds things. A person rich enough to buy things made of some materials, or rich enough to buy certain medicines, is less likely to die of some diseases caused by poverty/malnutrition and more likely to die of diabetes and cancer (cancer being what you will almost always eventually die of if enough of the other diseases can be treated, and if you don't get in any accidents in the meantime). So you can draw all sorts of correlations like "driving more expensive cars makes you more likely to die of cancer" (obviously rubbish) and "using certain expensive medicines makes you more likely to get cancer" (not as clear-cut: could be rubbish, but also might have something to it). Things that say "toxic", "cancer", "diabetes", "liver/kidney damage", etc. can easily fall prey to this and need to be read very carefully.

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Postby x9200 » Sun, 17 Feb 2013 3:22 pm

rajagainstthemachine wrote:Styrene is regarded as a "hazardous chemical", especially in case of eye contact, but also in case of skin contact, of ingestion and of inhalation, according to several sources. Styrene is largely metabolized into styrene oxide in humans, resulting from oxidation by cytochrome P450. styrene oxide is considered toxic, mutagenic, and possibly carcinogenic

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has described styrene to be "a suspected toxin to the gastrointestinal tract, kidney, and respiratory system, among others. On 10 June 2011, the U.S. National Toxicology Program has described styrene as "reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen"


Styrene is one of the more benign industrially used unsaturated monomers and the likelihood of significant exposure from any of the styrofoam products is in practical terms ZERO. Of course you can buy it from fine chemical suppliers pour to your eyes or drink it and get what you described above.


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