TRASHING AMERICA: CONTAINER TRASH LITTERS THE LANDSCAPE
PART 2 of 5
November 24, 2011
Part 2: The Peter Coors Factor with litter
It’s a sure bet that you have seen a six pack of empty beer bottles left in the middle of a parking lot at a bar or in a rest area. You’ve most likely seen endless plastic soda containers while walking or driving alongside a river, lake or stream. You definitely have seen bottles by the hundreds of thousands line the roads of your community and across the Interstate all over America.
While the majority of Americans pride themselves in being environmentally responsible, in reality, a scant 30 percent of Americans recycle bottles, cans, plastics, newspapers and cardboard. Less than 20 percent recycle tin and other metal cans out of the grocery stores. If you look into any waste cans on trash pickup days in most American communities, you will see that fruit, vegetable, tuna, bean and other cans find their way into the local landfill. It’s a national habit.
But it’s getting uglier as we waste resources to make containers and we waste energy to make more of them. We rape more and more of the planet to get to the metals that create our civilization. Yet, we do not have a single national recycling plan in place for any of the manufactured resources that we enjoy as to containers in our supermarkets, automobile stores, tires and just about everything in this flagrantly throwaway society.
In this part 2, we’ll address the profound waste of containers:
A whopping 1,500 plastic water bottles are used and tossed every second in the US 24/7! That equals 2.5 million plastic bottles every hour. Americans throw away 25,000,000,000 Styrofoam coffee cups every year. (Source: www.treehugger.com)
Out of the 50 billion water bottles bought annually, 80 percent end up in landfills and along our roads.
That number proves so preposterous as to be almost without comprehension. I can’t get my head around such a number let alone my emotions. Think of the waste of resources!
An estimated 2,480,000 tons of plastic bottles and jars were tossed
in 2008. (Source: EPA)
• As of 2006, an estimated 60 billion single-use beverage containers were purchased and 45 billion of them were tossed.
• Every square mile of the oceans contains 46,000 pieces of floating plastic. (United Nations, Oceans study, Julia Whitty, 2006)
• Ten percent of plastic produced every year winds up in the oceans. About 70 percent ends up on the ocean floor disrupting eco systems and kills untold numbers of marine life. (Source: www.reuseit.com )
You may have heard about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. (Source: Julia Whitty, also Oprah Winfrey Show, look in archives by using Google.) It consists of a floating island of plastic greater than the size of Texas, about 1,000 miles off San Francisco, anywhere from 60 to 90 feet deep and it’s loaded with plastic containers, Styrofoam and any other form of plastic you can imagine. It kills millions of seabirds, countless whales, dolphins and seals. Some estimates show that over 2.5 million more pieces of plastic debris are thrown into the oceans every hour to add to the patch or to sink to the ocean floor. (I’m not certain of the 2.5 million figure because I read it, but can’t find the source. I’ll keep looking.)
Steel Can Containers
Roughly 131 billion cans are produced each year in the United States. Of that, only 63 percent of steel cans are recycled and 52 percent of aluminum. The rest, as they say, becomes litter.
Glass Bottle Containers
Every month in the United States, we throw away enough glass bottles and jars to fill up the Empire State Building.
The energy saved from recycling one glass bottle can run a 100-watt
light bulb for four hours. It also causes 20% less air pollution and
50% less water pollution than when a new bottle is made from raw materials.
• A modern glass bottle would take 4000 years or more to decompose — and even longer if it’s in the landfill.
• Mining and transporting raw materials for glass produces about 385 pounds of waste for every ton of glass that is made. If recycled glass is substituted for half of the raw materials, the waste is cut by more than 80%. (Source: www.reuseit.org)
PETER COORS FACTOR
In Colorado where I have lived for most of my life, Peter Coors brews and sells billions of gallons of beer. Alcohol brewers are responsible for endless drunk driving deaths and broken families from alcohol addiction, but that’s another story. Each Christmas, he pays for an advertisement showing us not to cut down a tree to save the beauty of the back country.
But the fact remains that Peter Coors used millions of his dollars to stop our 1974 and 1988 container/deposit/recycling laws. He used his power to kill our efforts when other states like Michigan passed their fantastic 10 cent deposit-return laws. Coors wasn’t alone. He married with American Bottle and Can Company to stop us. In other words, the big guys wanted to make more money via more production of cans, bottles and glass, instead of caring for the environment.
Thus, you will find empty, broken and bent glass, plastic and aluminum containers along every Colorado roadside, parking lot, river, lake, stream and just about everywhere in the back country because people toss their litter without thought.
The Peter Coors Factor is alive and well in corporate America to stop any recycling laws and any environmentally proactive laws that we citizens attempt to pass. Peter Coors is a “pretend environmentalist” and is responsible for his failure to do what’s right for the environment. I feel sorry for him because he’s rich via a $13 million annual salary, but spiritually bankrupt for his work against Mother Nature.
SIMPLE SOLUTIONS TO THE CONTAINER LITTER ACROSS AMERICA
How can Americans stop the container litter that stretches from sea to shining sea? How can we stop adding to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch?
We must work at the local, state and national level to force a federal
10 cent deposit/return law for all 50 states. Michigan has led the
way and it works brilliantly.
2. You must get involved. I hear complaints, “Well, they won’t do anything.” That means “you” become “they” and then “you” get things moving. We cannot count on lawmakers to do what’s right because of the Peter Coors Factor.
3. Someone with money needs to start a national website that will promote a national 10 cent deposit-return law for all Americans. If I owned Bill Gates’ bank account, I’d create a national campaign to make it happen. It’s just common sense for heaven sakes!
4. That would get the ball rolling and move our civilization toward a cleaner, brighter and more ecologically responsible future.
5. Additionally, it would “Keep the Scene Clean” like my signs on I-70 on exit 254 in Colorado.
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If we don’t address the core of the container litter problem, we will never solve it by picking up the endless trash. Why? Because millions of people will keep tossing their containers! But with a 10 cent deposit incentive, an armada of kids will be out picking up that litter faster than a chicken on a bug. Otherwise, we will continue to do damage to the biosphere as to litter, resource waste and environmental degradation on multiple levels.
Listen to Frosty Wooldridge on Wednesdays as he interviews top national leaders on his radio show "Connecting the Dots" at www.themicroeffect.com at 6:00 PM Mountain Time. Adjust tuning in to your time zone.
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