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Plastic Waste Around Us


00:01 Amy: Hi, thanks for listening to my podcast. For the next couple minutes, I am gonna tell you something about plastic wastes around us.

00:14 How to deal with our massive plastic wastes has been a problem for everyone on this planet in nowadays society.

00:21 U.S. and Canada together discard 22 million pounds of plastic into the waters of the Great Lakes each year. According to a new Rochester Institute of Technology study, most of it washes up along the shores, accounting for 80 percent of the litter found there.

00:38 Before we go on to the bigger picture, let’s start viewing this problem on a daily basis. 

00:44 Today, I have Pam with me. Welcome, Pam!

00:48 Pam: Hi, I’m Pam. I am a junior here at the University of Michigan, and I am in the environment major.

00:57 Amy: Thanks for coming, Pam! My first question for you is really simple. Do you consume plastic a lot in your daily life and about what percentage?

01:07 Pam: Yeah, I try not to. But it can be very hard, because individual packaging is often plastic, and Tupperware is plastic, and to-go containers are often plastic. So I try not to, but yeah.

01:26 Amy: So, do you recycle them at school?

01:31 Pam: Yeah, I check the number, cuz I think the school doesn't take 1 and 7, and it also doesn't take glass. So when I am on campus, I don't recycle them. But if I am in Ann Arbor, or in my apartment, then I do recycle as much as I can.

01:54 Amy: Cool. And on campus, do you find people recycling plastics a lot, or do you think the school has emphasized a lot on recycling.

02:02 Pam: I think the school's pretty good at emphasizing it, because any time you see a landfill trash can, you also see a recycling next to it; and they have pictures about what goes where. So I think people generally know what is recyclable and what's not. So it's somewhat easy for them, but some people are lazy and don't want to figure everything out. So they just put in the landfill, cuz it's easier.

02:34 Amy: So after the recycling process, do you believe that our recyclable plastic wastes are taken care of properly?

02:44 Pam: I think a lot of room for mistakes. Because things that we think are recyclable are cardboard boxes that have oil stains on them, or like sometimes plastic have bunch of food all over it. The recycling plant doesn't sort that through, so they end up in the landfill anyway. So I think that a lot of it ends up in lakes and streams.

03:14 Amy: How do you think we can improve on both the individual’s side and the government’s side?

03:21 Pam: I think the university can be more transparent about, or more educational about what the numbers mean and which numbers they take. Because they don't take everything. And then being more, explaining more about how to recycle effectively. So like cleaning out your containers and put them in the right bins. That way, when it gets to the plant, less error is made. And also, I think the government could've expanded the bottle bills and ban certain plastics, like plastic bags. I always use paper bags when I go to grocery store. I think carbonated drinks fall under the bottle bills, but bottles water and things like that don't. So just expanding that, making all plastic to have some kind of incentives for people to care more, could be a lot better.

04:24 Amy: From Pam’s words we can see that she really cares about the environment and she is trying her best to protect it. However, the problem she encounters can also be the problem you are facing. There are limits as we are trying to recycle our plastic wastes. I hope that after this podcast, you can think more about your personal plastic wastes and also if you have the ability, call for more people to do so! If we don’t want plastic everywhere in our living area, nor do these ocean animals, nor do our future generations.