Once in a while, we like to take a virtual trip around the world to check in on some of the stories related to the ocean plastic crisis that are making news. This can be anything from research that shows how pervasive the problem is, to new ways of thinking about the plastic cycle, or some of the negative impacts ocean plastic pollution is having on species and habitats. Also, wherever we can, we like to recognize people or organizations making positive progress in the effort to curb the plastic pollution problem for future generations.
These stories are ripped from the headlines and just waiting for us to take a closer look. Let's go!
‘Single-use plastics’ to be phased out in Australia from 2025 include plastic utensils and straws
“Plastic cutlery and straws are among the types of single-use plastics to be phased out in Australia from 2025 under a plan to reduce plastic waste.
“A national meeting of environment ministers ... confirmed the phase-out would cover eight types of ‘problematic and unnecessary’ plastic waste: lightweight plastic bags; plastic misleadingly labelled “degradable”; plastic utensils and stirrers; plastic straws; polystyrene food containers; polystyrene consumer goods packaging; and microbeads in personal care products.”
Opinion: I thought I’d seen it all studying plastics. Then my team found 2,000 bags in a camel
The Washington Post
“Digging between the ribs of a dead camel buried in the sands of Dubai, I couldn’t believe what my colleagues and I found: a mass of plastic bags as big as a large suitcase. At least 2,000 plastic bags were lumped together where the animal’s stomach would have been.
“Our team of scientists documented that more than 300 camels in the region around Dubai had died from eating humans’ trash, accounting for 1 percent of dead camels evaluated in the region since 2008. Unlike other research that might examine animals in a laboratory, this was a field study with concentrations of plastic trash that currently exist in the environment. It is a real-world tragedy with ecologically relevant concentrations of trash.”
Europe’s plastics industry is about to boom. U.S. fracking is driving it.
“Plans for a huge and controversial new chemical plant in Antwerp, Belgium, are drawing attention to several European countries’ growing imports of chemicals from the United States: by-products of fracked natural gas and oil that would fuel plastic production, even as the European Union rolls out aggressive plans for reducing plastic waste and battling climate change.”
New process makes ‘biodegradable’ plastics compostable
“Biodegradable plastics have been advertised as one solution to the plastic pollution problem bedeviling the world, but today's ‘compostable’ plastic bags, utensils and cup lids don't break down during typical composting and contaminate other recyclable plastics, creating headaches for recyclers. Most compostable plastics, made primarily of the polyester known as polylactic acid, or PLA, end up in landfills and last as long as forever plastics.
“University of California, Berkeley, scientists have now invented a way to make these compostable plastics break down more easily, with just heat and water, within a few weeks, solving a problem that has flummoxed the plastics industry and environmentalists.”
Customers hate plastic packaging, so why do companies keep using it?
“Most customers want to do their part to help the environment and are aware of the impact of their purchases. 88% of U.S. and U.K. consumers want brands to help them be more environmentally friendly in their daily lives. Consumers increasingly prefer sustainable brands, with the majority of shoppers willing to pay a premium for recycled products. That means brands that continue to push plastic risk alienating the vast majority of their customers.
“So why are companies still packaging items in plastic? Why is it so hard to find plastic-free packaging?
“It often comes down to one thing: money.”
How to help: Take steps to reduce your plastic footprint
Plastic pollution is a complex issue and there is no one single action that’s going to change the tide. Ending this global crisis will require lots of small actions from lots of people every single day.
Every time you shop 4ocean, you’re investing in the future of our planet by funding the removal of trash that’s already polluting our oceans, rivers, and coastlines, while supporting the research, innovation, technology, advocacy, and education initiatives we invest in to help prevent more plastic from entering our oceans.
Small acts add up, which means every piece of single-use plastic you refuse, every habit you change, and every pound you pull makes a difference.