In my opinion, one of the most important debates currently taking place here in South Tyneside is the use of recycled waste plastic pellets mixed with asphalt to repair potholes in the roads and to completely re-surface some of them. There is more information here (www.thegreenage.co.uk/plastic-roads-future-of-recycling/).
I assume all readers are now aware of the floating plastic waste that covers square miles of our oceans and on the scale of things, nothing much is being done to get rid of them. One of them has been named the Great Pacific Garbage Patch and you can read about it and the whole problem here (businessconnectworld.com/2018/02/21/the-ocean-cleanup-project/). I’m not blaming any organisation for it because as the plastic waste moves around so does the problem and responsibility to deal with it. Until the invention of plastic bags and bottles the world didn’t have such a problem and on the scale of evolution it’s relatively new.
I thought South Tyneside Council had come up with a great idea because it has been tried out in many places in the UK and internationally and seems to work fine as far as reliability, effectiveness as a road surface and longevity are concerned. However, some debaters have pointed out that as the road surface does eventually breakdown and the plastics’ molecular structure degrades, the parts of the plastic that are the problem will be washed down the drains and into the oceans, exactly where they are not wanted. As a layman, if those facts are true, it seems to me it is probably a case of ‘back to the drawing board.’
The answer appears to be as elusive as ever and I wonder if some people who are really concerned are so anxious as to even propose a BAN ON ALL PLASTIC PRODUCTION. I haven’t researched it to that depth but possibly somebody has and I can just imagine the furore if it came to pass.
‘How would we cope?’
‘We coped well enough before plastic was invented.’
‘Yes but what about items that have been invented since and use plastic as an integral component?’
‘Develop replicas using an alternative material that can be recycled safely at the end of its life.’
‘What if that is not possible?’
‘Well then, it will be ‘Goodbye’ to mobile phones, computers, healthcare products and prosthetics and tens of thousands of other things.’
‘Just exactly how will we survive without them?.
Plastic is a huge problem and the threat from it is already being reduced by banning its use for certain products like carrier bags, plastic bottles, drinking straws, etc. Where the authorities go from here is not going to be easy but obviously there is still a colossal amount of work to be done. I wish them the very best of luck, whoever they are.
JHL MBE SSL Co. Chairman