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By Laura Stec

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About this blog: I've been attracted to food for good and bad reasons for many years. From eating disorder to east coast culinary school, food has been my passion, profession & nemesis. I've been a sugar addict, a 17-year vegetarian, a food and en...  (More)

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More Stupid Plastic Food Things

Uploaded: Mar 16, 2019

Yeech! I was just cleaning up around the house and it hits me – all these indestructible, single-use, plastic, food items live in my house. They are everywhere. I wash a lot of kitchen towels, and I encourage you to too. Change your kitchen towel daily. And don’t use the sponge to cleanup the counter – use kitchen towels that you then wash.

Anyways, I digress. So I’m doing the towels and I pick up the new laundry soap I got from @Costco. Can anyone (@Tide) tell me why this container has to built like a mid-evil castle? What's with the triple-reinforced, bullet-proof plastic? I don't need Fort Knox to carry my soap home. I couldn't chop this thing up with a hatchet. Ackkhh! Shouldn't all soap be sold in leak-free, biodegradable cardboard?

Then the new toothbrush came out. Got it from a wellness faire. I can’t even think of how to destroy this. Hammer it to pieces? The hatchet won't work. Thoughts @DeltaDental?

These are 10 top plastic manufacturers from 2018.

How do we put them out of business? Or at least make clear they must change their ways?

CROW's Top 10 Plastics and Resins Manufacturers

Dow Chemical
Global sales: $49 billion
Dow is an American multinational chemical company headquartered in Midland, Michigan. Dow provides chemicals, plastics, and agricultural products and operates in approximately 35 countries. It has more than 6,000 product groups that are manufactured at 179 sites across the globe. Dow is the leading global supplier of every major polyethylene (PE) resin worldwide (2016) and the world's largest producer of chlorine and polyalkylene glycols. It was ranked as the world's largest plastics manufacturer during 2008. Dow's principal lines of business include agricultural sciences, consumer solutions, infrastructure solutions, performance materials & chemicals, and performance plastics. In 2015, the company had annual sales of nearly $49 billion and employed approximately 49,500 people worldwide.

Writers gasp: Dow is a home boy from Midland, MI?

Lyondell Basell
Global sales: $33 billion
Lyondell Basell is one of the world's largest plastics, chemicals and refining companies incorporated in the Netherlands, and with U.S. operations headquartered in Houston, Texas, and global operations in London, UK. The company was formed in December 2007 by the acquisition of Lyondell Chemical Company by Basell Polyolefins for $12.7 billion. It provides chemicals, plastics, petrochemical products, diesel, and gasoline among many other products which are produced in 17 countries at 55 sites. LyondellBasell is the world’s largest producer of polypropylene resins and polypropylene compounds and one of the top worldwide producers of polyethylene. It is also a major producer of high-value specialty polymers and resins. In 2015, the company had annual sales of nearly $33 billion1 and employed approximately 13,000 people worldwide.

Exxon Mobil
Global sales: $236 billion
Exxon Mobil Corp. (ExxonMobil) is an American multinational oil, gas and chemical company headquartered in Irving, Texas. It is a direct descendant of John D. Rockefeller's Standard Oil Company and was formed in 1999 by the merger of Exxon and Mobil (both formerly the Standard Oil Company). It is the world's 9th largest public company by revenue and was ranked no. 6 in sales and no. 17 in profit globally in Forbes Global 2016 list.2 ExxonMobil produces plastics, petrochemicals, diesel, and gasoline among many other products in all major countries of the world and explores for oil and natural gas in six continents. The company is one of the top worldwide producers of polyolefins and other polymers and resins. In 2016, the company had annual sales of nearly $237 billion2 and employed approximately 75,600 people worldwide.

Global sales: $35.4 billion

Global sales: $60 billion

Global sales: $63.7 billion

Global sales: $61.6 billion

LG Chem
Global sales: $17.8 billion

Chevron Phillips
Global sales: $13.4 billion

Global sales: $7.9 billion

What is it worth to you?


Posted by Rick from Basell, a resident of another community,
on Mar 16, 2019 at 3:51 pm

Dear Laura,
You are an idiot. Spend some time reading up on recycling from the Society of Plastics Engineers. It is uneducated fools like yourself that give life saving plastics a bad name. Talk to some folks at Raychem just up the road from you in Menlo Park. Everything you show in these photos is 100% recyclable and can be reused many, many times over. When finished with the item, put it in the correct recycle bin and it will not only be "hammered to pieces" for you, it will then be re-melted and formed into new products, including many Medical Products.
Regards, Rick

Posted by JD, a resident of Woodside: Kings Mountain/Skyline,
on Mar 16, 2019 at 5:45 pm


1. Calling someone an idiot is rude and uncalled for.
2. So how did the floating mass of plastic the size of Texas get into the ocean? Recycling not working so well?
3. Recycling used to be sent to China, where it's no longer accepted. How well did China actually recycle it? (See #2).
4. Given #3 who is recycling now? Where is all the plastic going?
5. Even if recycling were perfect, would it be so bad to go back to paper straws and use less throw-away plastic? Save it for those medical applications.

Posted by You're are an idiot?, a resident of another community,
on Mar 17, 2019 at 8:55 am

"You are an idiot"? It's shameful how people use words so freely now, without regard to meaning or civility.

Posted by AnthroMan, a resident of Stanford,
on Mar 17, 2019 at 10:28 am

"The future is plastics." - The Graduate (1967)

50+ years later, this prophecy has rung true.

Plastics = convenience, strength & low production costs.

50 years ago, automobiles had fewer plastic they are 60%+ plastic (including the paint chemicals).

We live in a plastic world with plastic people (figuratively & reconstructively) & countless plastic consumer goods.

There is no going back to manufacturing processses that require more energy (i.e. steel) or the further destruction of forests (paper products).

Live with it or go reside with the Yanomamo in the diminishing Amazon rain forest.

Modern man prefers

Posted by reduce initial acquisition, a resident of Charleston Gardens,
on Mar 17, 2019 at 1:36 pm

> 4. Given #3 who is recycling now? Where is all the plastic going?

India and Vietnam, if I recall this week's NYT article on the recycling stream interruption.

We clearly must reduce initial use, and continue to recycle the rest, as the stream is reduced and more can be absorbed.

Posted by Judy, a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown,
on Mar 17, 2019 at 2:20 pm

We all know that plastic is killing our planet but every year it seems we are using plastic more and more when it's not necessary.

I've moved many times over the years. Movers would drape my furniture with quilted fabric to protect it from scratches. It worked just fine and and the quilted coverings could be reused many times for other moves. I am so disgusted to see that moving companies are now covering furniture in plastic wrap. Why? I doubt that plastic wrap can/will be recycled. Talk about wasteful and unnecessary.

For years I've purchased christmas trees that required nothing other than perhaps some twine to keep the branches tied down so it could fit in the car. Now trees are wrapped in netted plastic that is used just once for the trip home and then discarded. Another huge waste.

I think plastic manufactures must just wrack their brains coming up with new ways to use plastic.

As far as laundry soap, It can still be purchased in cardboard containers.

Posted by India/Viet Nam Good Places For Recycling Plastics, a resident of Barron Park,
on Mar 17, 2019 at 6:40 pm

"Where is all the plastic going?"

"India and Vietnam, if I recall this week's NYT article on the recycling stream interruption."

This is good as 3rd world/developing countries could use the business. Besides, once the plastic garbage is over there, what do we care? As long as they don't just take the CASH & toss the crap into the ocean.

Posted by Vasche LaMou, a resident of Greenmeadow,
on Mar 17, 2019 at 10:22 pm

"I am so disgusted to see that moving companies are now covering furniture in plastic wrap. Why?"

Money. It's cheaper to buy new plastic coverings than to buy, wash, and rewash fabric paddings.

Posted by Curmudgeon, a resident of Downtown North,
on Mar 17, 2019 at 11:00 pm

"Money. It's cheaper to buy new plastic coverings than to buy, wash, and rewash fabric paddings."

And that is how the world ended--saving it was just not cost-effective.

Posted by Cheap Shipping Is The Key, a resident of Barron Park,
on Mar 18, 2019 at 1:41 pm

>>"Where is all the plastic going?"

>>"India and Vietnam...

Those are good sites for disposing plastics as their environmental concerns are minimal at best.

It also provides jobs for the inhabitants...sorting the plastics & then bulldozing them into various landfills scattered about the countries.

The key is to have cost-efficient shipping protocols in order to dump this stuff off in their respective countries.

Posted by musical, a resident of Palo Verde,
on Mar 18, 2019 at 7:34 pm

^ No sense sending all those container ships back empty.

Posted by Baysider, a resident of Menlo Park: Fair Oaks,
on Mar 19, 2019 at 9:42 am



"Talk to some folks at Raychem just up the road from you in Menlo Park."


Raychem Corporation went defunct in 1999.

Posted by Karen, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park,
on Mar 20, 2019 at 8:40 am

Thanks, Laura for the reminder about too many plastic items. I thought I would try one of those complete meals from Safeway that you take home and cook yourself. Every single item, of which there was between 8 and 10 items, was separately wrapped in plastic. And most of those did not have a recycling symbol on them. So where do they go - into the trash. I'll never buy one of those again. And I've recently switched (back) to laundry and dishwasher detergent in cardboard boxes. And the dry dishwasher detergent worked much better than the liquid products.
We've damaged the planet so much - let's keep trying to find ways to make it better for the next generations.

Posted by Nancy Reyering, a resident of Woodside: other,
on Mar 20, 2019 at 12:45 pm

Great piece, Laura. It takes a village, and we all need to help educate each other about how to get out of this terrible unsustainable cycle.

Posted by It's less expensive to use plastic?, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis,
on Mar 21, 2019 at 12:12 pm

It's less expensive to use plastic? is a registered user.

Perhaps there should be tax on plastics. The revenues could be used to improve recycling in THIS country and to support real environmental cleanup of particle plastics that are now finding their way into our drinking water, our fish, etc..

Taxation would require us to pay the REAL cost of using plastics. (Long term, they are NOT cheaper) Of course, the plastics and petroleum industry lobbyists will have something to say about all of the idea is going nowhere unless hordes of citizens get busy advocating for change.

Posted by Edible Plastics Would Solve This Problem, a resident of Adobe-Meadow,
on Mar 21, 2019 at 1:37 pm

Edible plastics is the key to this problem. Plastics that can be broken down by the human digestive system.

Posted by Robin G, a resident of another community,
on Mar 21, 2019 at 2:34 pm

Wow! Great info, great topic & and a great big BUTTON for some folks. Thanks to ‘Rick' for his spirited inputs. I'd suggest to him to re-read his very own post with a critical eye.
1) “Laura you idiot." Maybe she's not one. , being an author, a lecturer, a knowledgeable environmentalist as well as a well rounded and informed human. Not perfect but I know she'd be the last to ever think she was perfect.
2). “Read the reports from the Plastc Engineers".. Rick/ don't you think they might have a HINT of prejudice when it comes to.... plastics??? ??????? And their increased propagation??
3). Your mention of Raychem, apparently went belly up 20 yrs ago. Another suspect company as to human health anyway.?
4) “life saving plastics"... yes, and no. As anything.. too much of anything can & will kill you. Care for a smoke?
5) etc, etc. I'd suggest that Rick take a lesson in HS Critical Reading skills. Or he could listen to FOX news for an hr..
As for the future- plastics ARE wonderful, for the very reason they don't break down.!! .. but we've obviously missed the boat here.. Recycling has not been utilized to the extent we've been led to believe. I suspect most of the tonnage in the oceans are NOT blown off the beach but HAVE been dumped by paid recyclers. Millions of tons don't blow off beach's. China WAS a large purchaser.. but where did the tonnage go?
�"- maybe some of the profits from plastic sales could be used to insure recycling is utilized? Too easy??
RICK.. we expect a report by the end of the week! With footnotes and references please. And ZERO reports from FAUX news young man. Off you go. >:-). Times a-wasting. It really is.
(This was edited in my previous ref to Raychem)

Posted by Laura Stec, a resident of Portola Valley: Westridge,
on Mar 21, 2019 at 3:48 pm

Interesting conversation everyone.

"I suspect most of the tonnage in the oceans are NOT blown off the beach but HAVE been dumped by paid recyclers." I bet true!

Personally, I don't want to have to depend on a huge company to melt down the packaging from my laundry soap, or it will live on for the next 200,000 + years.

Our waste MUST become our fuel, or WE ALL become the idiot.

Posted by Recycle Plastic For Plastic Surgery?, a resident of another community,
on Mar 21, 2019 at 6:13 pm

Could the plastic be recycled for something more practical like reconstructive cosmetic surgeries?

Then we could have a society of physically attractive people.

Looks are very important to those who care.

Posted by MPer, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park,
on Mar 22, 2019 at 1:42 pm

Agree! We ALL should and could use less plastics and the over-packaging explosion has got to stop. However, the article isn't the best, either. Over-packaging is an important one and a huge problem, still it is only the tip of the iceberg. Putting the 10 companies mentioned out of business won't solve the problem. It will put a lot of people out of work, so that sucks. Some if them might even be researching ways to improve the recyalebilty of said plastics.

Cutting down on plastic packaging is a start, what else is there

1. Stop flying on airplanes - no more trips tp Maui
2. Stop driving a car - electric if the electric is hydro, solar or wind powered
3. Only buy food grown / produced locally
4. Only buy products made locally with all local materials
5. Realize that all the people & places who needed to grow, produce, build, sell all of these products would also need to be housed nearby. Which brings us to cost.
6. Be willing to pay more for everything.
7. Be willing to coexist with farms, factories and everything in between.
8. Be willing to have higher density housing


Maybe we can build plastic houses!

Posted by Chicken, a resident of another community,
on Mar 22, 2019 at 4:57 pm

Basell? as in LyondellBasell (NYSE: LYB) is one of the largest plastics, chemicals and refining companies in the world?

Posted by Lauralies, a resident of another community,
on Mar 22, 2019 at 5:21 pm

Duh - I think the idea here is why recycle things we don't need? I don't want to spend money or energy to create indestructible plastic, or to get rid of it, especially if it wasn't necessary in the first place. And I certainly don't want to depend on someone else in some far far away place to make sure that it gets destroyed.

I'll recycle your plastic for you, then I'll sell ya' some ocean front property in Colorado at a great price.

Let me know.

Posted by Laura stec, a resident of Portola Valley: Westridge,
on Apr 4, 2019 at 2:08 pm

Bamboo toothbrush! That's what I'm talking about. Just found it.

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