Letter to the Editor: Plastics are not all alike

    Your editorial and article on waste plastics in the ocean and on the beaches were very interesting and do not reflect well on our stewardship of the beaches and the oceans.
    Many people would argue that these materials will last “forever,” however long that might be. But before condemning all plastics, remember that there are human hands responsible for each piece of plastic in the ocean.
    Also note there is another side to the picture, and that is the engineered version of many of the same materials such as polyethylene, polypropylene, PVC, polyester, et al., used to prevent leachate from municipal solid wastes (that we all generate and discard) contaminating groundwater, that preserve and prevent the contamination of potable water in reservoirs and canals, that allow the construction of space-saving vertical walls at highway intersections and that prevent the erosion of our beaches (not locally as yet). 
    These are known as geosynthetics, which, in civil engineering and geotechnical (soils) engineering projects, enable cost-effective performance that cannot be obtained by conventional engineering materials. These products function as fluid barriers, soil separators, filters, soil reinforcement, drainage and erosion control.
    Interestingly, many of the same people who say ocean waste plastics last “forever” claim that these specially engineered highly durable products have a short lifetime.
    Plastics do have their good sides, just as some people responsibly recycle them and others discard them clearly without responsible thought.
Ian D. Peggs, Ph.D.
President, I-Corp International Inc.
Ocean Ridge

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