Thursday, December 12, 2013

Some Goofy Thoughts on Plastic Bags Being Seized

While plastic bag bans have been proliferating of late, I only read yesterday of action being taken against a shop: "The team seized around 45 kgs of polythene bags below 40 micron thickness...". The story did get my mind wandering. For instance,
  • Do the police have calipers (calibrated ones, at that) to measure the film thickness? I've worked with films for most of my 20+ career and with my fingers can easily tell the difference between a 25 micron (1 mil) and a 50 micron (2 mil) film, and maybe on a good day, even a 37.5 micron film (1.5 mil), but my fingers are not capable of higher resolution. So do the police now have to carry around calipers on their gun belt?
  • The seized bags are now evidence, and we all have seen enough cop shows to know what happens to evidence: it is put inside a PLASTIC BAG. Hopefully the evidence bags are greater than 40 microns thick or there could be some high drama in the courtroom.
  • I wonder if all the evidence will make it back to the police station, or are cops going to start having a reputation for being the people with the best plastic bags?
  • After the bag is brought back to the crime lab, I wonder how the analysis goes. Is it like CSI? (For those of you unfamiliar with the US TV show, imagine any old analytical lab but with good-looking geeks and dramatic lighting). "Hey I got something. I ran a tensile test according to ASTM D638 and got some really strong peaks, so I dissolved the bag in hot xylene and ran a high-temp GPC and sure enough, there is a lot of metallocene-catalyzed polymer in this material. This is not some local product; this is an import and it is loaded. I mean this stuff is so strong, it could get an elephant high...err, that didn't come out right. I mean, these bags are so strong that they could lift an elephant up high...I wish I could've done more analysis, but I've only had the samples for 5 minutes. Anyway, we gotta do something before more of this stuff hits the streets."
  • I wonder how far the bag limits extend. Say for instance a drug dealer is caught and the weed is in thin-film bags. Do dealers get extra time in jail for that?
Just some thoughts. While this particular story happened in Indore, a city in central India, I would have the same thought regardless of where the seizures occurred.

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