Tuesday, November 29, 2022

How the flood of plastics in America is affecting Biden’s climate promise

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Plastic bags at a US chain store Target: Many carrier bags have a short lifespan—from checkout to the car, then into the home and into the trash. (They: Richard B. Levine via

plastic culture everywhere

When Europeans travel from the United States, they are overwhelmed by a flood of plastics: In supermarkets like Walmart, nearly every product is given its own plastic bag at checkout, and customers leave the store with twenty items. At hotel breakfasts, scrapings of plastic cutlery on plastic plates dominate the dishes rather than the dishes.

Employees have to empty containers for dirty disposable utensils every minute. A plastic orgy that is repeated every morning in thousands of hotels across the country. Even at home, Americans sometimes do without traditional dishes in everyday life – after all, disposable plastic does not have to be washed.

Canned, sliced ​​vegetables: Fresh and healthy generally look different in appearance in Germany. The benefit that Americans see: Time savings when cooking. (source: Gereneme)

The philosophy behind it is clear: out of sight, out of mind. A sizable Starbucks coffee in a disposable cup in the morning is the equivalent of lunch in a plastic box. Even the freshest fruits and vegetables available to Americans almost exclusively in supermarkets are shrink-wrapped and in plastic bowls, which end up in the trash immediately.

In comparison, Germany appears to be a plastic-free paradise.

a little more germany please

From the summer of 2021, the European Union has banned single-use plastic products such as cotton swabs and disposable cutlery. The German deposit system has a response rate of 98 percent. With a few exceptions, plastic bags have been banned in supermarkets since the beginning of the year. As more and more drugstore items are offered without plastic packaging, “unpackaged” stores for groceries have made it out of the hippie place. Avoiding plastic is becoming a part of everyday life here.

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Jute bags: In Germany, plastic bags are increasingly being replaced by bags made from jute or recycled materials. (Source: Imago/Michael Gestetenbauer)

The fact that the United States, on the other hand, seems like a dystopian parallel world, is due to the US government. It stays outside. And that leaves it to 50 states to curb the plastic craze. So far, only California, which is already the model state in all environmental issues, and Washington state have tried.

Since the beginning of the year, single-use items such as cutlery, straws, condiment pouches and sauce cups are no longer automatically handed out with food orders at restaurants in Washington state. The new law aims to reduce waste and waste. But this is not a real success, because if customers want it, they can order these items as well.

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