Archive | Plastic recycling, a concern since the 1970s

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Archives | Plastic recycling, a concern since the 1970s

The plastic bag, symbol of the consumer society, is used all over the world.

As of September 27, 2022, a City of Montreal bylaw will prohibit merchants from offering plastic bags to their customers. Our archives testify to the awakening to this problem and the attempts to find solutions to it.

“I see them in the spring. I am not happy to see them circulating in the wind, hanging on a fence or on a tree branch. This is not beautiful. »

This criticism about plastic bags was expressed not in 2022, but in 2006.

Robert Lemieux, president of Recyc-Québec, expressed himself thus in a report presented on December 24, 2006 on the show La semaine verte. His comment also shows the company's gradual disenchantment with a product it had been deeply infatuated with since the early 1970s.

Report by host Errol Duchaine and director Michel Dumontier on the increasingly problematic presence of plastic bags in the environment.

This report presented by host Errol Duchaine paints a complete picture of the nuisance caused by plastic bags in 2006.

Between 1.4 and 2.7 billion shopping bags, mostly plastic, are distributed every year in Quebec.

If used on average for just one hour, polystyrenes, polyethylenes and polypropenes take more than 400 years to decompose in the environment.

An aberration when other options, with a lower ecological footprint, are possible.

“I'm told it affects animals, birds, fish. I don't want to be responsible for this. Let's move! Let's do something! »

— Robert Lemieux, president of Recyc-Québec

We quickly realized the danger posed by the widespread use of plastics by consumers.

In the 1970s, scientists were busy finding “the solution” to degrade or recycle them.

Report by host Paul-Émile Tremblay on plastics destructible by light.

January 21, 1973, the program Lafleche du temps, hosted by Paul-Émile Tremblay, features a report on the research of Professor Jim Guillet of the University of Toronto.

The ability to degrade plastics depends on the length of their molecular chains. The shorter the latter, the more the plastics are dense and degrade slowly.

The solution of Professor Guillet's team is therefore to lengthen these chains to reduce their density. This is done by inserting foreign molecules capable of absorbing ultraviolet light.

This is how light-destructible plastics became one of the first answers in the fight to the elimination of plastics.

Today, the fight is accelerating, sometimes with drastic means.

Kenya, for example, banned them in August 2017, if they are single-use.

In 2021, the City of Montreal decided that in September 2022, all plastic shopping bags would be banned in its 19 boroughs.

But all over the planet, one thing is certain: victory in the fight to eliminate or recycle plastics is far from won.

In addition:

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