Scraponomics Episode 122: The influx of plastic water bottles in Flint

Mar 03, 2016, 03:10 PM

“Logic merely enables one to be wrong with authority.” — Dr. Who

The Flint water crisis is being covered a lot, so my first reaction is to not pile on to the debate. The public is getting enough opinions about it. There is something that I thought about, though, after a friend called asking for my thoughts. What is Flint suppose to do with all of the plastic water bottles they’re getting?

In my view, there’s good news and potential obstacles.

First, the good news is that plastic water bottles are typically made with a #1 PET clear plastic, which is actually one of the easier plastics to recycle. Friedland takes it, and so do many other scrap-processors around the state.

The potential obstacle is about volume. While the influx of thousands of water bottles may seem like a lot of volume, it really doesn’t add up to that much weight. Because of this, it makes picking up the plastic difficult of any processor, since the freight cost will likely outweigh any value the plastic has as a commodity (and I’m guessing the City of Flint wants to avoid anything that costs money to handle).

One potential solution might be to find a willing manufacturer that has a downstroke baler it isn’t using, and allow people to drop off plastic water bottles at their location. A downstroke baler is a manually fed baler. The resulting bales may be heavy enough to merit being picked up by a scrap-processor, perhaps at no charge, since the weight might be enough at that point to offset the freight cost. Make sense?

Frankly, I really don’t know if that’s a good answer or not, and there’s probably a lot more that we all could brainstorm together. I’d love to open the discussion. How do you think Flint should handle the influx of plastic water bottles?

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