Ocean Plastics series, Huffington Post
Critical, timely series of articles on the serious global problem of plastic in the oceans.
Can You Imagine A Supermarket With No Plastic? by Adele Peter, Fast Company, March 5, 2018
A campaign is pushing European supermarkets to ditch oil-based containers for recyclable or compostable alternatives. Will we ever see a world where plastic is eliminated from our shopping?
Only 9% of the world's plastic is recycled by The Data Team The Economist, March 6, 2018
Last October scientists at the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research, in Germany, found that ten rivers—two in Africa and the rest in Asia—discharge 90% of all plastic marine debris. The Yangtze alone carries 1.5m tonnes a year.
Let’s Bag Plastic Bags by Joseph Curtin, Sunday New York Times OpEd, March
In choosing a solution, it is important to understand the real cause of the plastic bag problem: the myth of free plastic. Retailers pay up to 5 cents per plastic bag, but the cost is hidden, passed on to shoppers through higher grocery prices. This is, no doubt, a brilliant business model for plastic manufacturers, but it has had a devastating impact on the planet.
Malibu bans restaurants from giving out plastic straws, stirrers and utensils by Alene
Tchekmedyian, Los Angeles Times, Feb. 26, 2018
During every visit to the beach, Sheila Morovati, her husband and their two kids each pick up at least 10 pieces of trash. Almost always, every item is made of plastic: straws, bottle caps, lids, forks.
So last year, Morovati helped lead a campaign to get rid of plastic straws in the city of Malibu. The effort culminated Monday night with the City Council banning the seaside town's roughly 65 restaurants and food vendors from offering or selling plastic straws, stirrers and utensils to customers.
It's been a year since California banned single-use plastic bags. The world didn't end
Times Editorial Board, Los Angeles Times, 18 November, 2017
It’s been a year since Californian banned most stores from handing out flimsy, single-use plastic bags to customers. It was the first, and remains the only, U.S. state to do so. But guess what? In the end, this momentous change was not a big deal. . . .
For the most part, Californians took in stride the sudden absence of some 13 billion bags that in previous years were handed out at grocery checkout counters and by other retailers of all sorts.
David Attenborough will deliver hard-hitting message in this week's episode
Lydia Smith, Independent, 19 November 2017
Whales are falling victim to pollution caused by humans dumping toxic plastic waste into the oceans. David Attenborough will deliver another hard-hitting message in this week’s episode of Blue Planet II, which will follow the plight of a pod of pilot whales. While feeding in the Atlantic ocean far from land, the creatures are filmed becoming entangled in plastic bags and dying from poisoning caused by the ingestion of plastics.
Deliver us From Plastic: How to Reduce the Waste From Your Delivery Food Habit by Robynne Tindall, The Beijinger, Oct 5, 2017
Change has come to the enormous Chinese food delivery services regarding plastic waste.
Brain damage in fish affected by plastic nanoparticles Tommy Cedervall, Lund University News,
Sept. 25, 2017
Most British supermarkets sell few unpackaged products, and she was spending most of her weekends roaming London in search of loose vegetables and bulk coffee.
So she decided to open her own shop: the only "zero-waste" store in London, which sells foods in bulk, products made out of waste and durable alternatives to typical throwaway products such as plastic cutlery, razors and sponges.
BREAKING: New Research Shows Plastic Fibers in Drinking Water, Plastic Free Times, Sept. 6, 2017
83 percent of drinking water samples worldwide tested positive for microscopic plastic fibers.
Tiny plastic fibers or “microfibers” have been found in the far corners of the world – in the oceans, in remote lakes and rivers, in fish, salt, and honey, and in the air we breathe. But until now one research area – our drinking water – remained unexamined. According to new research published today by Orb Media, tap water and plastic bottled water in cities on five continents is contaminated with microscopic plastic fibers. Scientists say they don’t know how these fibers reach household taps, or what their health risks might be, but experts suspect plastic fibers may transfer toxic chemicals when consumed by animals and humans.
How Degradable are Biodegradable Polymers in Water? by Prisca Henheik Advanced Science News, Aug. 12, 2017
The research by Amir Reza Bagheri et al., looks at the stability of biodegradable polymers in both fresh water and sea water. Six polymers were chosen for degradation studies, five biodegradable polymers (poly(lactic-co-glycolic acid) (PLGA), polycaprolactone (PCL), polylactic acid (PLA), poly(3-hydroxybutyrate) (PHB), and Ecoflex) and one non-biodegradable, the well-known PET. All are in everyday use in food packaging or medical applications.
The conclusion of the current research is that most of the biodegradable polymers do not degrade under natural conditions. As a result, biodegradable polymers will contribute to microplastic contamination in the environment. There is urgent need to design novel environmentally friendly polymers to drastically reduce plastic pollution.
We Are So Forked - Wait, we toss out how many plastic utensils every year?
Scientists discover a second ocean garbage patch by Rachel Desantis, New York Daily News, July 31, 2017
A team of scientists led by oceanographer Charles Moore — the same man who also helped draw attention to the famous Great Pacific garbage patch in the northern part of the ocean in the late '90s — has discovered a second garbage patch made of mostly plastic debris in a largely unstudied section of the ocean.
The newly discovered South Pacific patch is comprised of extremely tiny pieces of plastic that are smaller than grains of rice and nearly invisible to the eye. The South Pacific gyre was previously studied by marine pollution researcher Marcus Eriksen in 2011, though at the time, he saw very little debris. In the six years since, tens of millions of tons of plastic are thought to have descended upon the oceans of the world.
Corona and Parley to End Sea Plastic Pollution by Oscar Michel, Irish Tech News, July 13, 2017
A new alliance was made between Corona and Parley with the goal of protecting 100 islands by 2020. The procedure will start in six key regions: Mexico, Maldives, Australia; Chile, Italy and Dominican Republic.
“We are all connected to the sea. The state of our islands is a powerful reminder of that fact. Plastic trash travels around the world and washes up on the most remote beaches, enclosing paradise with a belt of colorful plastic debris. It makes you understand that something is dead wrong. Plastic is a design failure… In Corona, we found the perfect partner to bring this philosophy and strategy to a new territory: the beverage sector. Economy caused this plastic problem in the first place, but with the transformative power of collaboration and Eco Innovation, we can make it the key to the solution” said Cyrill Gutsh, founder of Parley for the Oceans.
Australian Researchers: 'We Found Evidence of Microplastics Pretty Much Everywhere We Looked' by Lorraine Chow, EcoWatch, July 14, 2017
Australian researchers were surprised to find high concentrations of microplastics embedded in the seafloor along the southeast coast of Australia.
Scientists with the Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies sampled marine sediments at 42 locations from Adelaide to Sydney and discovered these tiny particles at every location, from busy city harbors to seemingly pristine locations.
On average the team found 3.4 items of microplastics per milliliter of sediment. The highest concentration of microplastic pollution was from Bicheno, a fishing and beach town on Tasmania's east coast, with 12 microplastic filaments per milliliter of sediment. Results from the study was published in the journal Marine Pollution Bulletin.
These vessels keep soda and ice tea pretty cool. If a supersized drink is left in the car beverage holder for a few hours, the cups don't disintegrate into a puddle of sticky goo.
Yet it's that very industrial strength and durability that makes these polystyrene cups so eco-unfriendly and potentially creates a big public image problem for Oak Brook-based McDonald's.
By reintroducing foam cups, McDonald's appears to be backsliding on its long-held assurance to use more environmentally friendly packaging. It's also out of sync with a growing band of huge brand-name corporations vowing to get rid of foam plastic products.
A campaign to eliminate plastic straws is sucking in thousands of converts b Washington Post,
It started so innocently. A kid ordered a soda in a restaurant. “It came with a plastic straw in it,” Milo Cress recalled. He glared at the straw for a while. “It seemed like such a waste.” Today Cress, 15, is one of the faces of a growing movement to eliminate plastic straws.
The Plastic Pollution Coalition estimates that 1,800 “restaurants, organizations, institutions and schools worldwide have gotten rid of plastic straws or implemented a serve-straws-upon-request policy,” said Jackie Nunez, founder of a group called The Last Plastic Straw.
We've Made a Mess of Our Oceans by Eleanor Goldberg, Huffington Post, June 9, 2017
See a clip and read about James Cameron's short film in celebration of World Ocean's Day entitled, What would the Oceans Say. June 8, 2017 marked the annual World Oceans Day, an awareness event that brought together world leaders and activists to help identify solutions to end plastic pollution and keep litter from entering our waters in the first place. To support those efforts, Cameron, together with environmental group Avatar Alliance Foundation, released his short film which outlines the major concerns our oceans face today ― including climate change and overfishing. It was released in conjunction with another segment, which profiles seven advocates who are working to combat those issues.
River plastic emissions to the world’s oceans by Laurent C. M. Lebreton et al, Nature Communications, June 7, 2017
Plastics in the marine environment have become a major concern because of their persistence at sea, and adverse consequences to marine life and potentially human health. Implementing mitigation strategies requires an understanding and quantification of marine plastic sources, taking spatial and temporal variability into account. Here we present a global model of plastic inputs from rivers into oceans based on waste management, population density and hydrological information.
The size, location, and extensive nature of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch makes cleaning it impractical. A large number of ships would need to work for an entire year to eliminate only a fraction of the plastic from the water. Because cleanup is infeasible, experts focus their efforts on prevention of additional accumulation of plastic in the garbage patches. To prevent additional problems, consumers should use biodegradable plastic when they choose to use plastic. Avoiding the use of plastic whenever possible can also help reduce the garbage patches. Recycling plastic properly is another effective prevention measure.
Two proposals to clean up our oceans of garbage: Will either work? by David Leveille, PRI's The World, May 30, 2017
Billionaire Who Made Fortune Polluting Oceans To Donate Wealth To Clean Them Up by Eleanor
Goldberg, Huffington Post, May 26, 2017
He’s building a massive ship to conduct research and remove plastics from the seas.
Millions Of Pieces Of Plastic Are Piling Up On An Otherwise Pristine Pacific Island by Camila Domonoske, May 15, 2017
More than 37 million pieces of plastic debris have accumulated on Henderson Island, largest of the the Pitcairn Islands, a remote island in the South Pacific, thousands of miles from the nearest city, according to estimates from researchers who documented the accumulating trash. It's the highest density of debris reported anywhere in the world, scientists report in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.say.
Plastic Pollution at Four Coastal California Hotspots Violates Clean Water Act by Blake Kopcho, Center for Biological Diversity, May 8, 2017
San Francisco Bay and at least three other California coastlines suffer severe plastic pollution that violates the federal Clean Water Act, according to an appeal the Center for Biological Diversity has filed with the California State Water Resources Control Board.
A Center review of scientific studies found that the Bay and its surrounding coastline and the waters off San Diego, the North Coast and Channel Islands National Park should be declared impaired b y the water board. That designation would require state officials to clean up plastic pollution sources.
Scientists in Italy may have discovered a small solution to a big problem: they’ve found a caterpillar that eats plastic bags and shits out antifreeze.
The author of a paper published today in Current Biology, Federica Bertocchini, discovered this by accident: An amateur beekeeper, she considered waxworms pests. She plucked several of them off of her beehives and put them in a plastic bag. When she left them for a few minutes, they managed to chew through the bag and escape.
So waxworms — technically wax moth caterpillars — can not only chew through plastic, they can break it down into ethylene glycol.
Plastic. It's super useful but it's also a big problem for the environment. Enough plastic is thrown away every year to circle the earth four times! The main issue is that plastic doesn't biodegrade, meaning it sticks around for a very long time. This video gives a quick overview of the scope of the plastic problem and what some people are doing to try to solve it.
Toronto General Hospital nurse’s plastic collection transformed into mural, by Megan Ogilvie, TheStar.com, April 4, 2017
Shalof, 58, collected the plastic bits during her 28 years as a nurse in the intensive care unit at Toronto General Hospital where she cared for critically ill patients, including those suffering from heart failure or recovering from organ transplant surgery. She has since turned that collection into a mural, creating a colourful mosaic of more than 10,000 pieces embedded in clear resin.
Who’s ahead on the curve by Maxine Perella, Ethical Corporations, April 2017
With a proliferation of standards, metrics and tools to help firms join the circular economy, we look at those that are doing most to close the loop.
A groundbreaking study on the dangers of 'microplastics' may be unraveling by Martin Enserink, Science Magazine,
BPA-free? Substitutions mimic hormones in breast cancer cells by BrianBienkowski, Environmental Health News, Mar. 16, 2017
Three chemicals used as BPA alternatives mimic estrogen and promote breast cancer cell growth more than the controversial compound they’re designed to replace, according to new research.
Restricting use of plastic straws the latest trend to clean up beaches, ocean by Lauren Williams, Orange County Register March 16, 2017
Straws are a quiet part of everyday life. Americans use about 500 million straws a day. Choosing to not use a plastic straw is “a tangible thing anyone can do,” said Jackie Nunez, a kayak guide from Santa Cruz who in 2011 launched The Last Plastic Straw campaign.
Two-year study to assess microfibers’ threat to the oceans by Jennifer Kaya, Associated Press, Mar. 15, 2017
Researchers in the Gulf of Mexico will look at how the microscopic plastics shed by synthetic fabrics affect marine life.
3 super kids saving the world for future generations by Jared Cotter and Jessica Robertson, The List, Mar 14, 2017
Plastic is a substance the Earth cannot digest and every bit of plastic that has ever been created still exists. It's not just the oceans that need help. There are some unexpected people doing something about it. Jared Cotter has three pint-sized super heroes that are saving the world for future generations including PPC Youth Ambassador, Charlotte Weir - Cleaning the Ocean.
Coral Gables Might Become the First Florida City to Ban Plastic Bags by Brittany Shammas, Miami New Times.com, March 9, 2017
Last month, a judge upheld Coral Gables' ban on Styrofoam products, finding that a state law barring the city from enforcing the ordinance was unconstitutional. Now some city officials want to take on another notorious pollutant: plastic bags.
Report finds chemicals in one-third of fast food packaging by February 1, 2017
Most of the time, when you order fast food, you know exactly what you're getting: an inexpensive meal that tastes great but is probably loaded with fat, cholesterol and sodium.
A non-estrogenic alternative to Bisphenol A at last? Environmental Defense Fund Jan.23, 2017
A new study was published showing promising results for a non-estrogenic alternative to polymers based on bisphenol A (BPA) used to line the inside of food cans. The paper, in Environmental Science & Technology (ES&T), evaluated the estrogenicity of an alternative to BPA— tetramethyl bisphenol F (TMBPF) — and its final polymer product developed by Valspar, a major paint and resin company.
Plastic microfibre ingestion by deep-sea organisms, by M. L. Taylor et al, Nature.com, September 30, 2016
Plastic waste is a distinctive indicator of the world-wide impact of anthropogenic activities. Both macro- and micro-plastics are found in the ocean, but as yet little is known about their ultimate fate and their impact on marine ecosystems. In this study we present the first evidence that microplastics are already becoming integrated into deep-water organisms. By examining organisms that live on the deep-sea floor we show that plastic microfibres are ingested and internalized by members of at least three major phyla with different feeding mechanisms. These results demonstrate that, despite its remote location, the deep sea and its fragile habitats are already being exposed to human waste to the extent that diverse organisms are ingesting microplastics.
Clean Our Oceans: The Impact of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch by Greg Wiszniewski, BBC Cleaning Service 2016
Information about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch and further links.
Today’s Secret Ingredient: Traces of Toxic Plastic Chemicals by Sonya Lunder, Environmental Working Group blog , July 15, 2016
A study by Ami Zota and colleagues at George Washington University, published last April in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives, found phthalates in nearly all of the 7,000 Americans tested. More specifically, they found higher than average levels of two phthalates – di(2-ethylhexyl)phthalate and diisononyl phthalate – in those who reported eating fast food within the past 24 hours.
Tanzanian Bahati Sosthenes Mayoma: When Plastic is Not Fantastic by Jan Kjær, Better-World.dk, July 01, 2016
Eating plastic? Not a nice feeling. Neither for human beings, nor fish.
In collaboration with Roskilde University and the National Museum of Denmark, Bahati approached the largest lake in Africa: Lake Victoria. Close to Mwanza, the second biggest town in Tanzania, the team carried out a small study based on the methodology Mayoma learned in Denmark and used in Italy and Spain.
We found that 20 per cent of the fish had plastic in their gastrointestinal tracts. We were the first to show the world and Tanzania that we have a problem in our waters, says Bahati.
Since the research only took place around Mwanza, the findings are only circulating among researchers – not in the Tanzanian media. A study covering a bigger portion of the lake is needed to see whether it is a general problem or confined to the urbanized area. If a new study concludes that a high percentage of Tilapia and Nile Perch from the Lake Victoria contain plastic, it could affect long term sustainability of the fish which are already under pressure from overfishing and nutrient loading from both agriculture and municipal wastes, Bahati reckons.
Anthropogenic debris in seafood: Plastic debris and fibers from textiles in fish and bivalves sold for human consumption by Chelsea M. Rochman et al, Nature.com, September 24, 2015
The ubiquity of anthropogenic debris in hundreds of species of wildlife and the toxicity of chemicals associated with it has begun to raise concerns regarding the presence of anthropogenic debris in seafood. We assessed the presence of anthropogenic debris in fishes and shellfish on sale for human consumption. We sampled from markets in Makassar, Indonesia, and from California, USA. All fish and shellfish were identified to species where possible. Anthropogenic debris was extracted from the digestive tracts of fish and whole shellfish using a 10% KOH solution and quantified under a dissecting microscope. In Indonesia, anthropogenic debris was found in 28% of individual fish and in 55% of all species. Similarly, in the USA, anthropogenic debris was found in 25% of individual fish and in 67% of all species. Anthropogenic debris was also found in 33% of individual shellfish sampled. All of the anthropogenic debris recovered from fish in Indonesia was plastic, whereas anthropogenic debris recovered from fish in the USA was primarily fibers. Variations in debris types likely reflect different sources and waste management strategies between countries. We report some of the first findings of plastic debris in fishes directly sold for human consumption raising concerns regarding human health.
Marine litter on the floor of deep submarine canyons of the Northwestern Mediterranean Sea: The role of hydrodynamic processes, Xavier Tubau et al, ScienceDirect, March 31, 2015
Marine litter represents a widespread type of pollution in the World’s Oceans. This study is based on direct observation of the seafloor by means of Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) dives and reports litter abundance, type and distribution in three large submarine canyons of the NW Mediterranean Sea, namely Cap de Creus, La Fonera and Blanes canyons. Our ultimate objective is establishing the links between active hydrodynamic processes and litter distribution, thus going beyond previous, essentially descriptive studies.
The Lawyer Who Became DuPont’s Worst Nightmare by Nathaniel Rich, New York Times Magazine, Jan. 6, 2016
Rob Bilott was a corporate defense attorney for eight years. Then he took on an environmental suit that would upend his entire career — and expose a brazen, decades-long history of chemical pollution.
Louisiana Waterways are the most polluted in the nation by Jennifer Larino, The Times-Picayune June 19, 2014
Louisiana's waterways are among the most polluted in the nation, with industrial facilities releasing more than 12.6 million pounds of toxic chemicals into rivers, bayous and other waters in 2012, according to a report released Thursday (June 19) by the Environment America Research and Policy Center.
The Deep Sea is a Major Sink for Microplastic Debris, by Woodall et al, Royal Society Open Science December 17, 2014
Plastic is Washed Up by Jennifer Wagner-Lawlor, Antennae, Autumn 2014
Dianna Cohen is the co-founder of the Plastic Pollution Coalition, a group that addresses the pervasive problem of plastic pollution. She was inspired to co-found the group by her work as an artist -- because her chosen material is the ubiquitous plastic bag. She writes: "Having worked with the plastic bag as my primary material for the past twenty-three years, all of the obvious references to recycling, first-world culture, class, high and low art give way to an almost formal process which reflects the unique flexibility of the medium." With the Plastic Pollution Coalition, she helps to raise awareness of ocean waste -- the majority of which is non-degradable plastic – and everyday strategies to cut down the amount of plastic we use and throw away. See uploaded issue.