Plastics Pollution

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Addie
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Plastics Pollution

#1

Post by Addie » Sat May 11, 2019 11:42 am

Associated Press
UN: Plastic waste pact approved with US among few holdouts



GENEVA (AP) — Almost every country in the world has agreed on a legally binding framework for reducing polluting plastic waste, with the United States a notable exception, United Nations environmental officials said Friday.

An agreement on tracking thousands of types of plastic waste emerged at the end of a two-week meeting of U.N.-backed conventions on plastic waste and toxic, hazardous chemicals. Discarded plastic clutters pristine land, floats in huge masses in oceans and entangles wildlife, sometimes with deadly results.

Rolph Payet of the United Nations Environment Program said the “historic” agreement linked to the 186-country, U.N.-supported Basel Convention means countries will have to monitor and track movements of plastic waste outside their borders.

“It’s sending a very strong political signal to the rest of the world — to the private sector, to the consumer market — that we need to do something,” Payet said. “Countries have decided to do something which will translate into real action on the ground.”

The deal affects products used in a broad array of industries, such as health care, technology, aerospace, fashion, and food and beverages.

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Re: Plastics Pollution

#2

Post by Addie » Sat May 11, 2019 2:12 pm

Earther.com
Scientists Say They've Cooked Up an Endlessly Recyclable Plastic

Plastics aren’t recycled nearly as much as we’d like them to be, but a team from Berkeley Lab has developed a method to hopefully make that process easier. In a recently published study, these researches describe a new type of plastic that can be broken down at the molecular level to create new plastic without any deterioration in quality. The goal is to improve the recycling process so that fewer plastics end up in landfills or oceans.

“Most plastics were never made to be recycled,” said lead author Peter Christensen, a postdoctoral researcher at Berkeley Lab’s Molecular Foundry, in a statement. “But we have discovered a new way to assemble plastics that takes recycling into consideration from a molecular perspective.”

Every plastic is made up of polymers, large molecules that are made up of smaller compounds called monomers. As the researchers noted in a press release, the traditional method of making plastic involves adding chemicals that stick to the monomers and are hard to remove during the recycling process. As a result, bits of plastics with different chemical compositions get all mixed up, and it’s tough to know what sort of a plastic the recycling process will ultimately spit out. Often, the plastic won’t be as durable in its next life.

The new plastic this team has cooked up—what they’re calling called polydiketoenamine, or PDK—could make recycling more appealing because all that’s needed is some acid to separate its chemical additives from the monomers. Then it’s possible to create a new plastic item with the same integrity as the original. The researchers’ hope is that this new plastic material could come to replace various plastics that can’t be recycled currently because of how they’re created: those in shoes or phone cases, for instance.

Right now, this plastic only exists in the lab. You won’t be able to buy a PDK phone case just yet. Right now, the team is working on making the material greener by incorporating plant-based materials.

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Re: Plastics Pollution

#3

Post by Addie » Sun May 19, 2019 12:30 pm

Reuters
Tiny E.Timor to become world's first plastic-neutral nation

KUALA LUMPUR, May 17 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - In a region where seas are awash with trash, East Timor is set to become the world’s first country to recycle all its plastic waste after it teamed up with Australian researchers on Friday to build a revolutionary recycling plant.

The $40-million plant will ensure that no plastic, once used in the Southeast Asian nation, would become waste, but would instead be turned into new products.

Dili said it had signed a memorandum of understanding with Australia’s Mura Technology to establish a non-profit called RESPECT that will run the plastic recycling plant, expected to launch by the end of 2020.

“This is a small country where we can make a statement - making the whole country the first to be plastic neutral, in a region where there is the largest pollution of marine life,” said Thomas Maschmeyer, co-inventor of the recycling technology to be used in the new plant. ...

In many parts of Asia, fast-growing economies and populations, coupled with huge coastlines and densely populated cities, have filled local seas with trash and plastic waste.

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Re: Plastics Pollution

#4

Post by Mr. Gneiss » Sun May 19, 2019 7:25 pm

From RTH10260's post, "Bomb Carbon" Has Been Found in Deep-Ocean Creatures in the "Science, General Stuff" thread, the last part of the linked Scientific American article includes disturbing evidence of microplastics found in crustaceans living in the Marianas Trench and in glaciers. :toxic: :(

viewtopic.php?f=49&t=6328&p=1088957#p1088957

Scientific American - “Bomb Carbon” Has Been Found in Deep-Ocean Creatures
But it is not just relatively rare impacts, like nuclear tests, that have reached these remote environments; more mundane human contamination can be found there too. Researchers recently announced they had found microplastics—degraded pieces of larger plastics, as well as microbeads and synthetic fibers—in every crustacean they tested from the Mariana Trench. “It was disheartening but not unexpected,” says William Reid, an ecologist at Newcastle University who worked on the study, published in Royal Society Open Science in February. “It is probably the saddest piece of research I have ever been involved with.” Microplastics have also been detected in glaciers, according to results presented at the April EGU meeting.
And one of the saddest scientific research articles I have read in the last few years....SIGH! :crying:

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Re: Plastics Pollution

#5

Post by Addie » Thu May 23, 2019 6:39 am

CBS News
Kroger, nation's largest grocery chain, eliminates plastic bags

CINCINNATI – Kroger, the nation's largest grocery chain, will phase out the use of plastic bags in its stores by 2025. The grocer orders about 6 billion bags each year.

Based in Cincinnati, Kroger operates 2,779 stores in 35 states and the District of Columbia, serving almost 9 million people daily through two dozen different grocery chains.

Kroger said Thursday that will start the project at its Seattle chain QFC, where it expects to be plastic-bag free by next year.

Companies are now beginning a broader shift to reduce waste, especially plastic. Here are a few of the latest high-profile efforts ...

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Re: Plastics Pollution

#6

Post by ZekeB » Thu May 23, 2019 7:02 am

There's a Wally World not so far from where I live which is located just north of a large farm field. When I look at that field right now all I see are many pieces of white. The white being the collection of hundreds of wind-blown plastic bags. I'm sure the farmer loves the idea of spending an entire day walking this field and picking up other people's trash. As much as this area likes to think they're in touch with nature and jeebus and the ecology, they really could care less if it interferes with something of convenience or something that might cost them an extra dime before they walk out the door of a store. I don't foresee Iowa banning plastic bags in my lifetime.
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Re: Plastics Pollution

#7

Post by Dolly » Thu May 23, 2019 10:28 am

04/01/19 09:29 AM EDT
Pregnant whale found dead with with nearly 50 pounds of plastic in its stomach

A pregnant whale that washed up on the Italian coast reportedly had nearly 50 pounds of plastic waste in its stomach.

CNN reports the whale, which was found in Sardinia, Italy, last week, was also carrying a fetus that was no longer alive.

"She was pregnant and had almost certainly aborted before [she] beached," Luca Bittau, president of nonprofit organization SeaMe, told CNN. "The fetus was in an advanced state of composition."

Bittau added that the whale’s stomach contained "garbage bags ... fishing nets, lines, tubes, the bag of a washing machine liquid still identifiable, with brand and barcode ... and other objects no longer identifiable."
...................
Bittau said the cause of the whale’s death was currently not known but histological and toxicological exams would take place.
<snip>
https://thehill.com/policy/energy-envir ... plastic-in
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Re: Plastics Pollution

#8

Post by Dolly » Thu May 23, 2019 10:30 am

05/22/19 10:25 AM EDT
Researchers find around 414 million pieces of garbage on remote islands

Researchers on a remote South Pacific island say that they have discovered hundreds of tons of plastic and other waste washed ashore, most of which was buried underground.

The Washington Post reported Wednesday that scientists on the Cocos islands off the coast of Western Australia found more than 414 million pieces of trash strewn across beaches on the formerly pristine tropical islands, including everything from smaller pieces of plastic to shoes and other clothing.

238 metric tons of waste are estimated to have washed ashore on the islands, according to the researchers, who conducted studies that found much of the waste to be buried under sand, suggesting that previous studies of washed-ashore waste may have missed large quantities of garbage.

“Cocos is literally drowning in plastic, which is really sad considering how incredibly remote these islands are,” the study's lead author, Jennifer Lavers, told the Post.

“The quantity of debris buried below the surface was so significant,” she added. “It ended up accounting for more than 90 percent of the total debris on the island. That’s really quite remarkable.” <snip>
https://thehill.com/policy/energy-envir ... -on-remote
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Re: Plastics Pollution

#9

Post by Addie » Fri Jun 07, 2019 10:47 am

NPR
Microplastics Have Invaded The Deep Ocean — And The Food Chain

The largest habitat for life on Earth is the deep ocean. It's home to everything from jellyfish to giant bluefin tuna. But the deep ocean is being invaded by tiny pieces of plastic — plastic that people thought was mostly floating at the surface, and in amounts they never imagined.

Very few people have looked for microplastic concentrations at mid- to deep-ocean depths. But there's a place along the California coast where it's relatively easy: The edge of the continent takes a steep dive into the deep ocean at Monterey Bay. Whales and white sharks swim these depths just a few miles offshore.

The Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute perches on the shoreline. At an MBARI dock, you can see one of their most sophisticated tools for doing that: a multimillion-dollar machine called Ventana sitting on the deck of the research vessel Rachel Carson. "It's a massive underwater robot," explains Kyle Van Houtan, chief scientist with the Monterey Bay Aquarium, which collaborates with MBARI. "Robotic arms, a lot of sensors, machinery, lights, video cameras." ...

"The deep ocean is the largest ecosystem on the planet," says Van Houtan, "and we don't know anything about the plastic in the deep ocean." Scientists do know about plastic floating on the surface, and have tried to measure how much there is. The Great Pacific garbage patch is just one of many giant eddies in the oceans where enormous amounts of plastic waste collects.

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Re: Plastics Pollution

#10

Post by Addie » Mon Jun 17, 2019 9:45 am

The Guardian: Where does your plastic go? Global investigation reveals America's dirty secret

A Guardian report from 11 countries tracks how US waste makes its way across the world – and overwhelms the poorest nations

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Re: Plastics Pollution

#11

Post by Addie » Sun Jul 07, 2019 4:17 pm

WaPo Editorial
Plastic is everywhere. We can no longer ignore that.

PLASTIC IS everywhere. It is not merely that the material, rarely used in consumer products before 1950, has become ubiquitous in the homes, cars and offices Americans inhabit. Scientists using remotely operated submersibles announced last month that they had found plastic microparticles in the deep ocean off California’s idyllic Monterey Bay, with, surprisingly, the highest concentrations in the middle of the water column. Researchers have found the stuff on isolated Alpine peaks, in animals’ digestive tracts and in human stools. Some effects on the ecosystem, such as animals getting tangled in or choking on plastic waste, are obvious. It is alarmingly unclear what all the tiny microparticles ending up in the environment — and human bodies — is doing.

Findings such as these have driven recent movements to eliminate one-time-use plastic products, such as plastic straws, which the District banned, polystyrene food containers, which Maine banned, or plastic shopping bags, which California banned.

The petrochemical industry responds that alternatives often come with substantial hidden environmental harms: Producing paper and cotton shopping bags requires more carbon dioxide emissions than thin plastic ones; foam food containers need less water and energy to make than possible replacement materials. More and better plastic recycling is the answer, the industry suggests.

Meanwhile, the Trump administration argues that the United States is not the real culprit. Researchers concluded in 2017 that the 10 rivers with the most plastic pollution all were in either Asia or Africa. These 10 rivers, led by China’s Yangtze, result in a quarter of all the oceans’ annual plastic pollution.

In fact, this environmental problem is so massive, everyone needs to address it, not least the world’s largest economy. Fixing it is not as easy as handing out reusable shopping bags that many people do not use or developing alternatives to plastic products that have their own environmental impacts. In some cases, alternative products can help, but often only if coupled with policies that promote more sustainable practices — such as taxes on all one-time-use shopping bags, whatever the material. Faith in the promise of technological development cannot lead to neglect of hard systemic changes that promise to cut waste.

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