Turning plastic into oil at home - Does anyone else think that this sounds like a horrible idea?
Many of you may have heard about a little household machine invented by a Japanese scientist at Blest Corporation that turns plastic bags into oil. (Here's an article and a video.) The machine is cute and looks self-contained, but it seems like it is essentially just burning plastic, but the waste comes out in a liquid rather than smoke form. Plastic films often contain toxic materials. For example, even California’s relatively strict Toxics in Packaging Act allows for 100 parts per million of cadmium, lead, mercury, and hexavalent chromium - and that only applies to plastic film packaging that touches food in California. Regulation of toxic heavy metals in other plastic films is much more precarious.
Most of the articles really gloss over it, but this has HUGE potential environmental impacts, especially if these machines are available for individuals to purchase and people expect to put this "oil" that is most likely contaminated with all kinds of toxic inert ingredients into their cars and then into the air? And should they dump the contaminated water bi-product down the sink?
An even bigger problem is that this machine, regardless of whether it actually works, distracts from the real problems associated with plastic consumption and pollution. The video seems to imply that it is efficient (and even environmentally friendly) to continue to use single-use plastic products then "convert" them. This creates a false confidence and is counter-intuitive to real sustainable habits.
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