Queen's University

Saying no to plastic bags

Deborah Pearson, Ed '89; Robert Vogel, Artsci’83; Andrew Holmes, Sc'05, and Charles Wiebe, Sc’78, MSc‘81, have their say on mailing the Review in plastic bags.

Letters to the Editor
Re: “It’s all about our planet”
Issue #2-2010, p. 18

The irony of plastic bags

When the Spring issue of the Review arrived in my mailbox I looked through the plastic mailing bag at the cover title, “It's all about our Planet.” This left me dumbfounded at the gross irony before my eyes. The magazine’s circulation is 106,000; it doesn't take an elementary school teacher to calculate how many plastic bags that represents.

This has made me realize that there is nothing inside this publication worth this kind of cost to the environment, so until you stop wrapping the Review in plastic, please remove me from your mailing list.

Deborah Pearson, Ed '89
Cambray, ON

More than an annoyance

It is somewhat ironic that this issue, with its cover story about saving the environment, came in one of those annoying plastic wrappers. It is even more ironic that the unnecessary wrapper happens to be made of hydrocarbons that in turn are mankind's largest source of greenhouse gas emissions.

I realize it comes this way because your distributor has combined delivery of the Review with other mailers to cut down on mailing costs. However, I urge you to reconsider this environmentally unfriendly—let alone inconvenient—delivery.

Robert Vogel, Artsci’83
Toronto, ON

The irony is inescapable

I received the Review with its cover story “It’s all about our planet” neatly packaged in plastic wrap and including a 28-page advertisement. Ironic.

Andrew Holmes, Sc'05
Whitby, ON

The best choice?

I was immediately struck by the irony of the green cover enclosed in a plastic bag—especially since this is the first time that the Review has been packaged this way.

I applaud Queen’s for wanting to save shipping costs by including Complete Engineer, the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science magazine, with the Review, but I ask: Is plastic the best choice for shipping? I believe it is the easiest choice, but not necessarily the best green or financial choice.

Charles Wiebe, Sc’78, MSc‘81
Stittsville, ON

A reply from the Editor...

These readers raise a valid concern. However, our printer tells us the plastic bags used to mail the Spring issue of the Review were made of material that includes the patented component Total Degradable Plastic Additive (TDPA), which breaks down the bags in a two-stage oxo-biodegradation process.

In the first stage, TDPA accelerates the degradation process by several orders of magnitude. Triggered by the elements or the physical stress that comes with compaction in a landfill, oxidation causes the molecules to become hydrophilic (water-attracting) and small enough to be ingestible by micro-organisms. This sets the stage for biodegradation.

In the second stage, biodegradation continues because of environmental moisture and micro-organisms. The plastic bags are broken down completely. As micro-organisms consume the degraded plastic, carbon dioxide, water, and biomass are produced and these are returned to nature by way of the bio-cycle.

Regardless of the eco-friendly nature of this process, we are looking into the feasibility and cost of using non-petroleum-based mailers, namely recycled brown paper mailing envelopes (such as the ones National Geographic magazine uses) whenever we have occasion to piggyback mailings again.—Ed.

 

Queen's Alumni Review, 2010 Issue #3Queen's Alumni Review
2010 Issue #3
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