Unraveling the Creation of PET Plastic: Good or Bad?

PET (polyethylene terephthalate) plastic is one of the most widely used materials in the world, used in packaging, textiles, automotive parts, and more. With its safe and hygienic material, many companies opt for the plastic because it is cost-efficient and can be used in a variety of ways. But what kind of effect does PET have on the environment?

There are many benefits to using PET plastic. Firstly, it is extremely versatile. It can be molded and formed into a wide range of shapes and sizes, like beverage bottles, food containers, clothing fibers, and more. It is also very lightweight, reducing transportation costs and energy consumption. Most importantly, though, PET is “made to be remade” (American Beverage Association). 

According to the AmericanBeverage Association, once bottles are recycled, they are collected and make their way to a materials recovery facility. While there, they are separated from other plastics, cleaned, and ground up into rPET (recycled PET) pellets and used to make new bottles.

However, while PET plastic offers many benefits, it is vital to consider its environmental impact. Despite its recyclability, PET recycling rates vary globally, and in some places, recycling infrastructure is limited. This can lead to lots of PET plastics ending up in landfills, oceans, or turning into microplastics, contributing to the pollution problem already at hand. Additionally, the production requires fossil fuels as feedstock, leading to greenhouse gas emissions and contributing to climate change. 

PET plastic has become an integral part of modern materials, offering versatility, lightweight nature, and recyclability. However, its environmental impact, particularly plastic pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, may override the advantages. We should collectively promote recycling PET plastic and work towards a more sustainable solution because it will ensure a more sustainable future. 



American beverage Association 


Million Marker


Youth Fight Plastic Pollution

Youth fight plastic pollution

By Ella Moseley

There is an estimated 75 to 199 million tons of plastic waste currently in the ocean, with another 33 billion pounds of plastic entering the marine environment every year. Read what these four teens are doing to make a global impact.


Anna Du’s microplastic-detecting device

17-year-old Anna Du from Massachusetts is not only bringing awareness to the plastic in the ocean but is also coming up with ways to solve the problem. The high schooler has created a high-tech invention that can detect microplastics in the water, and the overall goal is to “make the cleanup effort much easier,” she says. As a young child, Anna loved going to the beach, but when she realized much of the objects she thought were sea glass were plastic, she decided to get to work. With help from renowned scientists, Anna has reached her goals and hopes to grow her efforts in the future. 

Hannah Testa’s Taking on the Plastics Crisis

Hannah Testa promotes solutions for the pollution problem, and “through a combination of speaking engagements, articles, social media, videos, partnerships, alliances, and campaigns,” Testa has educated people of all ages.  At only 19 years old, Hannah has shared her passions through her book, Taking on the Plastics Crisis. To help the bigger picture, Testa says we can do little things like refusing single-use plastics and trying to buy second-hand every day because it can help reduce our overall carbon footprint. 

Melati Wijsen’s impact on plastic laws in Bali

In 2013, Melati founded “Bye Bye Plastic Bags” with her sister. Together, the two have successfully banned plastic bags, straws, and styrofoam on their home island, Bali. Among many accomplishments, Wijsen has been featured on CNN Heroes and Forbes’ 30 under 30. Above all, she wants to empower youth to fight for change. 

Fionn Ferreira’s magnetic device

Ferreira is a  20-year-old scientist and anti-plastic pollution innovator from Ireland. His main focus is to solve the pollution crisis, and he has worked towards this by inventing a device that removes microplastics from water using a magnetic ferrofluid. Ferreira is currently developing his visions for his startup’s commercialization and application through help from Robert Downey Jr’s Footprint Coalition and is working on his first book, which he hopes will inspire people to make a change. 



Sea level rise– what is it and how can it be prevented?

Sea level rise is a major environmental issue that’s affecting coastlines and areas around the world—caused by many factors, like global warming and the melting of glaciers, levels are rapidly sinking at one inch per eight years. But what is being done to prevent this phenomenon? 

One of the leading causes of sea level rise is global warming. The largest contribution to this is the emission of greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere. Then, the gasses trap heat from the sun and which causes the temperature of the Earth’s surface to rise. As the temperature increases, the polar ice caps and glaciers melt, which adds more water to the oceans and contributes to the rise in sea level.

As the sea level rises, it causes increased flooding and erosion, which can cause problems for those affected. For example, over the past few months, many of Northern California’s bridges, homes, and communities have been demolished by storms. President Biden has approved an Expedited Major Disaster Declaration, “ordering federal aid to be provided to recovery efforts in areas of California that were affected by the storms” (LA Times), but many are still concerned about the damage the storms did to the sea level. 

Reducing the emission of greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere is vital to stop sea level rise. Various governments and nonprofit organizations around the world are working to implement policies that will reduce the release of these harmful gasses. California is planning a $6 billion sea level rise solution, including seawall improvements, flood mitigation for major roads, and wetland restoration and fortification.

Another important step that we can take to stop sea level rise is to protect and restore coastal ecosystems. These help to absorb and store carbon, which can potentially slow down the process of global warming, as well as provide a natural barrier against sea level rise, by reducing erosion and flooding in coastal areas. By preventing oil leaks, not dumping trash, conserving water, and more, we may be able to preserve these coastal ecosystems.

The sea level rise is affecting various areas around the world. To prevent this, it is paramount to reduce the emission of greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere and maintain coastal ecosystems, which can help reduce the sea level rise, and in turn, protect the environment for future generations.



LA Times 


Sea Level Rise

Storms recovery

Protect coastal ecosystems 

Disaster relief fund

Governor Newsom

Disposable conference swag: can it finally be eliminated?

      After a two-year hold, work conferences are starting to kick up again, along with the cheap merchandise that companies give out to its employees. These brands have produced over $64 billion in swag by promoting their low-priced items in bulk. According to Forbes, only 21% of swag or promotional items are kept for an extended amount of time. About half is donated or given away, and 23% is thrown away, which ends up clogging landfills.

      Over time, these items have made an enormous effect on the planet– adding to the already ginormous pollution problem. “Manufacturing these goods requires extracting raw materials and spewing greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere,” says Elizabeth Segren with Fast Company.

     Because events during the last two years have been canceled or delayed, these wasteful products have not been needed. However, with this second chance, will companies make the right decision regarding how they treat the planet? The consumers themselves don’t want cheap swag, or maybe anything at all. Can we find a better alternative to it? There are many ways to do this, whether companies opt for more sustainable merch, or skip it altogether. Simon Polet, owner of Merchery, says we should “give (employees) the choice, so they can get something they will actually use for a long time.” According to a study by Cones Communications, about  63% of consumers in the U.S. want businesses to help improve environmental problems. “Companies spend millions of dollars on events that are designed to promote goodwill […] yet they often procure damaging items that are purchased as an afterthought,” says Forbes.

      If more companies buy their event merch from eco-friendly brands, such as Patagonia or Yeti, which help improve our environment, progress can certainly be made with our pollution problem.  “Coming back to a product over and over is the way to really cultivate loyalty,” says Polet.

      Doing away with the cheap merch can be a win-win for the earth as a whole. In the end, maybe giving employees what they want will end up being what the earth wants too.


Fast company



California’s new plastic bills explored

Recently, California Governor Gavin Newsom has been presented with various plastic-related bills, some signed and some vetoed. What are they and how will they benefit the environment?

Each proposal being approved would be an incredible improvement for California’s population as a whole. But what are some of these bills, and what do they entail?

SB 1046 Starting in 2025, plastic bags used for produce in grocery stores will be reusable, recyclable, or compostable. The bill passed with a vote of 32-8 on the senate floor in August, and Newsom signed it in late September. However, many Californians are skeptical. Will these bags end up in the wrong (trash) bin? Only time will tell.

AB 2784 Though not approved, this bill being passed would have changed all thermoform plastics to be partly made of recycled materials. This plastic is used to be a protective shell for foods, such as a rotisserie chicken at the grocery store, as well as cups and lids. By 2025, the bill proposed that 10% of it would be made using recycled plastics, and later 30% by 2030. If this was not obtained by the companies making thermoform plastics, a debt would have to be paid. However, various fruit companies who use thermoforms opposed this. According to the LA Times, the produce organizations say that the bill is “unnecessary considering the sweeping plastics legislation the state passed earlier this summer.” As a result, Newsom vetoed this bill. The Governor called the bill’s requirements “confusing” and said it could result in “duplicative fees and penalties for the same material.”

AB 351 Finally, starting in 2027, the dead will get a chance to leave the world better than when they found it. Modeled after Washington’s human body composting law, California cemeteries and crematoriums will adopt more environmentally-friendly methods. The process involves “placing human remains in a steel box with biodegradable materials, which help the body naturally decompose” (Pew Trusts). This is then turned into soil and given to family members, who can spread it or use it to grow plants. “I’ve always hated the thought that my final act on this world would be to either pollute the air or be pumped full of toxic chemicals and buried in a vault with a huge carbon footprint,” Nick Lapis, director of advocacy for Californians Against Waste, said.

With so many plastic-related bills being approved by the Governor, our state may have a chance to influence the rest of the country. “If any one of these bills had passed, it’d have been huge,” said Nick Lapis. “But all of these together? It’s incredible.”

Written by: Ella Moseley


LA Times

Plastic Bags


Human Composting

The trash-talk about recycling film

By: Ella Moseley

Plastic film is thin polyethylene plastic, most often used for packaging and bags, especially for retail use. A majority of plastic film waste contains the recycling symbol and is advertised to be “recyclable at store drop off locations.” Jan Dell, founder of The Last Beach Cleanup explains that this labeling confuses consumers and makes them think they can just put plastic film items in the provided bins. To make matters worse, oftentimes the recycle bins at these store drop offs are so contaminated with other garbage that they can not be recovered. 

Many companies are working to produce plastics that can be remade, but money is a big hurdle for them. Recycling old plastics and making them into new products is a much more expensive process than buying new plastic.

On July 19, CBS News correspondent Meg Oliver met with a New Jersey pilot program, “trying to help consumers get it right when it comes to plastic film.” On the first Wednesday of every month, six utility workers drive around Red Bank, New Jersey, in search of white buckets containing plastic film. They transport this plastic to a recovering facility, where it is sorted and bundled for the final steps of processing. The program was designed to help soft plastics, like bags and wrap (which can usually not be recycled), go to the correct place. However, in the segment, quite a few problems become apparent with the system. 

In the factory, there are many plastic bags mixed in with other paper and cardboard in the recycling piles. These plastic bags create a big problem for the workers because they get caught in the machines. According to the operations manager, Carlos Batista, “it can be very detrimental to the machines.” The system needs to be shut down for two hours every day because of this, and Batista says it can “cause fire or mechanical damage.” This is not the only problem. According to Jan Dell, “there is no evidence that this stuff is actually getting recycled.” After CBS’ visit to Red Bank, the plastic film collected was still waiting to be accepted by a processor. CBS’ Meg Oliver even mentions that she covered this same problem on the show three years ago, yet nothing has changed.

For now, the best solution for this problem is to put your plastic film waste in the trash, because putting it in the recycling can do more harm than good. 

“We have inconsistent guidelines, lack of consumer education, and really a confusing process where most consumers don’t know what goes in the bin.” – Joshua Baca with the American Chemistry Council



CBS News

Letter to Governor and Attorney General

New York Times

Sustainable Princeton


More Information:

The Last Beach Cleanup

How California’s waste may be drastically lowered

As I walk around my neighborhood, local beaches, school, and other places in my town, I see hundreds of plastic and styrofoam products scattered on the ground. I think, who left this here? But more importantly, how might we fix this problem? This November, California may get a chance to reduce the litter we see all around us, as residents are fighting for the Recycling and Plastic Pollution act. The initiative means that all single-use plastics found in restaurants (foodware and packaging) must be reusable, refillable, recyclable or compostable by 2030, as well as single-use plastic production reduced by 25% in that same year. According to ABC7, the act would also prohibit stores from selling Styrofoam products such as “coolers, packing materials, cups, plates and pool toys, unless they are labeled as ‘durable material.’”

Though many are excited for this change, some small business owners are concerned about the extra costs affiliated with reusable goods, considering the toll Covid-19 has taken on many establishments. According to the LA Times, a representative of the Valley Industry and Commerce Association told the board that the initiative may reduce some waste, but it will more likely increase costs. The VICA says, “the cost of purchasing 100 compostable forks would pay for 1,000 plastic ones.” 

However, supervisors Janice Hahn and Hilda Solis are calling for Los Angeles County to begin a year-long education campaign, teaching the businesses about requirements and materials leading up to the implementation of the law. They want to start the motion “to make sure that we work with our businesses. We want to make sure they’re not overburdened and have what they need to comply with this,” says Hahn. 

California is not the first state to introduce this idea. In 2019, the island of Honolulu, Hawaii, banned all single-use food containers. Along with that, various states such as Oregon, Delaware, Connecticut, Maine, New York, and Vermont have banned plastic bags, and other states plan to do the same as well. 

So, what are the next steps? Vote for the future of California in November! As Democratic Senator Ben Allen said, “The truth is we just need less crap out there — less plastic out there in general.” 

Written by: Ella Moseley – California high school student

Photo Credit: Justin Sullivan – Getty Images




LA Times

Urth Pact

Learn More:

The Initiative

Stop Plastic Pollution


This Earth Month we practiced self-love, because how can we adopt an abundance mindset if we don’t fill our own cup?


If we all used reusable cups and bottles for anything we drank, from coffee to water to beer, we could change the world! But we don’t. Why? Despite amazing advances in bioplastic technology, there is currently too much demand in our global throw-away culture to fight plastic pollution head-on. Consider the rise in shipping costs if EVERYBODY switched to glass or metal.

“It is not as simple as ‘plastic is bad’ so let’s use something else,” warns Eliot Whittington, policy program director at the University of Cambridge’s Institute for Sustainability Leadership. “It will require a complete change in the way we use product packaging at the moment. Most packaging is now used just once and thrown away. We need to move away from that. It needs some form of leadership from government.”

There are caveats, as with all new technologies, that prevent wide-scale adoption. Bioplastics and tetra-paks require special recycling plants, which are not available everywhere. They are generally more expensive to produce (a biodegradable forkmade from plant starch costs 3.5 times more than a basic white plastic one) and can often contaminate the traditional recycling process. Which is why it’s so important to continue to recycle right.

Delta Airlines, we know you can do better.





Despite countries pushing ahead with their conservation efforts, we can see that overfishing and habitat destruction faces an enforcement problem. By charging fishers for access to areas just outside the MPAs, enforcement could pay for itself. It’s what we do to protect the integrity of our waterways and national lands, why not the ocean as well?

If crafted correctly, the CFA could provide a perpetual budget for the enforcement of MPAs. Coupled with a new international funding mechanism like the Community Land Rights and Conservation Finance Initiative (CLARIFI), we could see MPAs fulfill their promise of being a superpower in the fight to conserve and heal our oceans.

We have severely altered two-thirds of the ocean, with only 2.8% of the ocean fully or highly protected from fishing. The problems we face start with our actions and flow elsewhere, not just downstream. Scientists have found major plastic pollution in the MPAs in the Mediterranean. Over half of the plastic found came from elsewhere.

If these big blue walls are breached, if these precious superhighways for marine life are exploited, everyone loses. Loss of biodiversity = lower productivity = lower economic performance. We know that MPAs work to various degrees, supercharging the health of ecosystems by allowing fish to mature, reversing the trend of shrinking sea life from fishery-induced evolution. If we can support indigenous communities in their effort to restore degraded MPAs, it will go a long way in maintaining the health of our oceans.

Tune into the Ocean Plastic Virtual Summit which is free to join and runs from Jan 25-26, you can sign up here.

OPLN will be holding a US-specific plastic treaty dialogue on Jan 27 from 12-2 eastern. Open invitation, no fees for participation.

Thank you to our ecosystem of partners for stepping up the past two years, keeping the Barrel Bag community connected and thriving.


We are ecstatic to share with you that our team and our partnerships have grown! We are also thrilled to join The Global Plastics Treaty Dialogue. While we strongly believe in the power of one, we know the fight against plastic pollution takes a united force for good. Here is to a fantastic start of the year, and a continued commitment to keeping our oceans healthy.

The world turns…and continues to throw away and burn single-use plastics. How do we inspire collective action and unity of purpose?

Since the publication of Silent Spring by Rachel Carson, the drive to ‘save’ the planet has only grown. We are grateful for the cultural shift in thinking, but now 60 years later, where do we go from here? The path ahead offers two distinct choices. Do we focus on change on a policy or individual level? Perhaps those two paths meet. We think so. We believe in the hard work of organizations like the Surfrider Foundation and politicians like Tom Udall and Alan Lowenthal and their efforts to codify sensible plastic pollution policy. We ALSO believe in the hard work of you, me, and the rest of our community.

That is why this month we are dedicating this bulletin to the Surfrider Foundation and the Break Free From Plastic Pollution Act. If there is ONE click, ONE action you take for the environment ahead of Earth Day, then 📣SUPPORT📣THIS📣BILL📣Like right now before you are finished reading this😎take a minute or two to contact your representative. Shoutout to Beyond Plastics for a great breakdown of the BFFPPA.

“In January 2019, the Surfrider Foundation and University of California Los Angeles Law School Emmett Institute on Climate Change and the Environment presented at two Congressional Briefings on Capitol Hill to discuss plastic pollution solutions. The presentations focused on their joint report on federal actions to address marine plastic pollution and set the stage for the Break Free From Plastic Pollution Act.”
As important as it is to make changes at the policy level, we believe power comes from the people. We can all agree that single-use plastics suck. More often than not SUPs like household cleaners, grocery bags, and reusable food storage containers can be easily swapped out with minimal effort. Our community has switched to beeswax wraps instead of plastic wrap, reusable pail liners instead of garbage bags, and even ditched pesky detergent pods for the powdered variety.
Huge shout out to Grove Collaborative for bringing some of the best brands out there under one roof. Once again, power in numbers. Demand dictating production. Marketplaces like Grove (we are not affiliated, so this is not a sponsored plug) can hopefully incentivize both the boardroom and courtroom to act with environmental equity in mind.

Let’s keep fighting for a zero-waste future with the power of the people and policy.


Does the fight against plastic pollution include both collective and individual action? We believe both are critical.

If we all used reusable cups and bottles for anything we drank, from coffee to water to beer, we could change the world! But we don’t. Why? Despite amazing advances in bioplastic technology, there is currently too much demand in our global throw-away culture to fight plastic pollution head-on. Consider the rise in shipping costs if EVERYBODY switched to glass or metal.

“It is not as simple as ‘plastic is bad’ so let’s use something else,” warns Eliot Whittington, policy program director at the University of Cambridge’s Institute for Sustainability Leadership. “It will require a complete change in the way we use product packaging at the moment. Most packaging is now used just once and thrown away. We need to move away from that. It needs some form of leadership from government.”

There are caveats, as with all new technologies, that prevent wide-scale adoption. Bioplastics and tetra-paks require special recycling plants, which are not available everywhere. They are generally more expensive to produce (a biodegradable forkmade from plant starch costs 3.5 times more than a basic white plastic one) and can often contaminate the traditional recycling process. Which is why it’s so important to continue to recycle right.

Delta Airlines, we know you can do better.

So what does transformative change look like? Incremental steps and easily repeatable actions. Swap out plastic cups for compostable at your next party. Managing an event on campus? Choose bioplastics over traditional or even better, fully reusable. Create a ripple effect at home and in your community. San Francisco International Airport now offers hot, cold, and room temperature water at their hydration stations, and people love it. And here at Barrel Bag, we love the fact that both the shipping (!) and the airline industries see the value of cutting out single-use plastics.

Change is coming, dear readers. The government and mainstream media are beginning to take notice. “Here’s a chance for the Biden administration to do more to combat this crisis than all the local plastic bag bans in the country combined,” Emily Jeffers, an attorney for the Center for Biological Diversity and author of the petition, said in a statement.

This month, join us in celebrating these incredible NGOs who convinced French shipping line CMA CGM to end shipping plastic waste! Their victory is ours, help us show them some love. Here are all 52 organizations’ contacts.

Plastic Pollutes

Beyond Plastics

A Plastic Planet

Zero Waste Europe


Green Knowledge Foundation


Both Ends

TX Environment


Microplastic Research Group

Circular Economy