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Old 10-04-2021, 19:20   #1
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Massive amounts of plastic....burn or ignore?

Hi,
Iíve visited a lot of remote beaches (Bahamas, Caribbean, Central America, S Pacific) and they all have a **** load of plastic trash washed up on them.
My question....is it better to pile the plastic and burn it or do nothing?
The quantities of plastic are not practical for me to collect and bring somewhere (which will end up being burnt or dumped somewhere else on the island)
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Old 10-04-2021, 19:32   #2
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Re: Massive amounts of plastic....burn or ignore?

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Originally Posted by mrybas View Post
My question....is it better to pile the plastic and burn it or do nothing?

Viet Nam acknowledges that it responsible for 6% of the plastic in the oceans, making it the fourth biggest plastic polluter.

Viet Nam is working to (1) remove the plastic from the ocean and beaches; (2) sort any recyclable plastic from the debris; and (3) bury in safe landfill the rest.

Burning is not an option unless you have a clean burn facility (high temperature, plenty of oxygen, scrubbers on the chimney).

See: https://vietnamnews.vn/society/92211...ne-litter.html
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Old 10-04-2021, 19:58   #3
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Re: Massive amounts of plastic....burn or ignore?

^^^^
Getting building permits to construct tall chimneys on the beach will take longer than the OP is likely to stand around his collected pile of plastic junk.

Seriously, his is a valid question: better to pollute the air with combustion products or leave it to foul the beach and the sea?

I surely don't know, but will admit to having burned such a few times over the years.

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Old 10-04-2021, 20:50   #4
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Re: Massive amounts of plastic....burn or ignore?

What about burying it? Doesn’t get rid of it, but does isolate it.
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Old 10-04-2021, 20:52   #5
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Re: Massive amounts of plastic....burn or ignore?

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Originally Posted by mrybas View Post
Hi,
Iíve visited a lot of remote beaches (Bahamas, Caribbean, Central America, S Pacific) and they all have a **** load of plastic trash washed up on them.
My question....is it better to pile the plastic and burn it or do nothing?
The quantities of plastic are not practical for me to collect and bring somewhere (which will end up being burnt or dumped somewhere else on the island)
Hi and what a wonderful question. Plastics everywhere and what can we actually do rather than shirk or ignore the problem when cruising and on a remote beach. I have looked at recycling plastic at low temp melting and combining with sand as plastic brick type of things for mini reef refuges using marine debris, but it is apparently highly toxic to marine life. There are many cautions as to what NOT to do, and many well meaning suburban experts with suggestions but NOTHING read so far anywhere addresses the OP's excellent question. Perhaps there is room for a discussion limited to what CAN we do as individual visiting yachties. This is a global issue and blaming the polluters won't help you and I fix the rubbish we find on a remote beach today. I for one would be hugely appreciative of any constructive suggestions.
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Old 10-04-2021, 20:57   #6
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Re: Massive amounts of plastic....burn or ignore?

We went to Arnhem land last year (remote area of NT, Australia) and there was huge amount of plastic on the beaches, unlike anywhere else in Au.

It's because of the winds and currents bring it from Asia etc. Anyway, my wife started to collect them and pile them up, until we found a sign that said something like 'please don't collect litter, there is an ongoing scientific survey about the accumulation of rubbish here'.

So we had to leave everything there...
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Old 10-04-2021, 21:26   #7
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Re: Massive amounts of plastic....burn or ignore?

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Hi and what a wonderful question. Plastics everywhere and what can we actually do rather than shirk or ignore the problem when cruising and on a remote beach. I have looked at recycling plastic at low temp melting and combining with sand as plastic brick type of things for mini reef refuges using marine debris, but it is apparently highly toxic to marine life. There are many cautions as to what NOT to do, and many well meaning suburban experts with suggestions but NOTHING read so far anywhere addresses the OP's excellent question. Perhaps there is room for a discussion limited to what CAN we do as individual visiting yachties. This is a global issue and blaming the polluters won't help you and I fix the rubbish we find on a remote beach today. I for one would be hugely appreciative of any constructive suggestions.
Actually blaming the polluters can be constructive. It is totally impractical as a cruiser to collect plastic on beaches. Where we are now in the Maldives I could fill our boat daily with plastic bottles, left sandals and net rope daily. Burning it might make you feel good, but you are probably doing more damage than good.
Publicizing the problem in blogs, to tourist ministries, etc can make a difference. Places that depend on tourism hate to see this negative publicity. Yet it can get the powers to act. The Maldives is 'planning' a ban on single use plastic.
https://presidency.gov.mv/Press/Article/24211
We'll see if it ever occurs, but it would be a major improvement on the current state. We often see the small supply ships bringing in pallets of plastic water bottles to the islands. A beach walk shouldn't be a depressing affair.
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Old 10-04-2021, 23:09   #8
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Re: Massive amounts of plastic....burn or ignore?

One time, we were asked to burn it, lower than the high tide line. Then to bury the ashes. Then when the tide comes back, whatever happens, no one sees it. I am NOT advocating this; it is merely what we were asked to do one time. A hot enough fire will burn aluminum cans, too.

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Old 10-04-2021, 23:51   #9
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Re: Massive amounts of plastic....burn or ignore?

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What about burying it? Doesnít get rid of it, but does isolate it.
There is a trial in the UK looking into digging up a dump to extract now valuable materials that were placed there in the 1970 and 1980s. What was shocking was a newspaper that had been buried since 1980 I think and was still readable if a little damp. Hadn't broken down at all.

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Old 11-04-2021, 01:56   #10
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Re: Massive amounts of plastic....burn or ignore?

That's a hard corundum love to ask all those green activists. Most of them first go full preacher mode until they realise the problem, them they shut up and walk away mumbling something that's not how it should be.

However I met one who really was into the science of recycling etc and gave me an actual reasoned answer. Burning the stuff might put some bad dioxins etc into the athmosphere, leaving the stuff will make microplastic out of it. Of these two options, burning is the lesser evil. If you do this often, you might try to achieve as high temperature as possible, as this reduces the toxic stuff. So better burn it in an old barrel with lot of venting in the bottom than in an open fire (which is the worst option).

For plastic coated metal, same, the ashes and remain can then go into the sea, where corrosion takes care of the metal and the rest. All the emissions this way are noticeable less noxious than leaving the plastic laying around. The CO2 can be totally discounted in this problem as marginal, that's for 17 year old girls to complain about in front of politicians.

This made sense to me and I live by this.
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Old 11-04-2021, 03:11   #11
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Re: Massive amounts of plastic....burn or ignore?

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That's a hard corundum love to ask all those green activists. Most of them first go full preacher mode until they realise the problem, them they shut up and walk away mumbling something that's not how it should be.

However I met one who really was into the science of recycling etc and gave me an actual reasoned answer. Burning the stuff might put some bad dioxins etc into the athmosphere, leaving the stuff will make microplastic out of it. Of these two options, burning is the lesser evil. If you do this often, you might try to achieve as high temperature as possible, as this reduces the toxic stuff. So better burn it in an old barrel with lot of venting in the bottom than in an open fire (which is the worst option).

For plastic coated metal, same, the ashes and remain can then go into the sea, where corrosion takes care of the metal and the rest. All the emissions this way are noticeable less noxious than leaving the plastic laying around. The CO2 can be totally discounted in this problem as marginal, that's for 17 year old girls to complain about in front of politicians.

This made sense to me and I live by this.
So do you carry a burn barrel with you and high temp acceletants when you cruise to remote beaches? The topic of the OP.
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Old 11-04-2021, 03:30   #12
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Re: Massive amounts of plastic....burn or ignore?

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...a hard corundum...Of these two options, burning is the lesser evil...the ashes and remain can then go into the sea, where corrosion takes care of the metal and the rest. All the emissions this way are noticeable less noxious than leaving the plastic laying around...This made sense to me and I live by this.
We thought similarly. The very worst places we encountered for plastics fouling the beaches were the islands/east coast of Panama and the islands/north coast of Columbia, not just the local populations to blame (though their practices don't help), so much as the Atlantic/Caribbean currents which wash so much of it down into that dead end corner. Being so far from industrialisation, we felt that the local atmosphere could better accommodate a few dioxins than the beaches their plastic tide-line.
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Old 11-04-2021, 03:31   #13
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Re: Massive amounts of plastic....burn or ignore?

I'm in favor of burning plastic trash. I believe that microplastic particles everywhere are worse than some emissions into the air. I'd like to see all these coastal nations build high-heat incinerators and turn the plastic into energy.
There used to be a tire incinerator in Rhode Island that made electricity, but it was shut down by competing energy interests, and now the stockpile of tires that they didn't get around to burning are a serious problem for the environmental authorities. Seems to me it's time to fire up the incinerator again....
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Old 11-04-2021, 03:34   #14
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Re: Massive amounts of plastic....burn or ignore?

Not applicable to the OP’s original scenario, of a cruiser, on a beach:

China, the world’s leading plastic polluter, is working on ways to reuse plastic waste, as a fuel in its massive cement industry, as part of a Norwegian project, called "Ocean Plastic Turned into an Opportunity in Circular Economy" (OPTOCE). This involves heating limestone in large furnaces, at temperatures of 1,450 degrees Celsius, until it liquefies. The fuel widely used is coal, of which cement factories burn half a billion tons, every year around the planet. Some of this vast quantity of coal could be replaced by non-recyclable plastics.
OPTOCE ➥ https://optoce.no/
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Old 11-04-2021, 04:59   #15
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Re: Massive amounts of plastic....burn or ignore?

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So do you carry a burn barrel with you and high temp acceletants when you cruise to remote beaches? The topic of the OP.
Nope, but you'd be surprised that this kind of "infrastruture" doesn't get stolen very often. And if an old barrel happens to be found on the beach, it's worth getting out the powertools to pimp it into a furnace. Barrel, some fouf rebar-stock to make a grill inside, some stones to keep it up.

If such a burner is available, it'll also be used.
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