In the News - Log 5: Plastic Around the World
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!
Amazon’s big role in ocean plastic pollution
“Oceana has today released a report – based on an analysis of e-commerce packaging data – that found Amazon generated 465 million pounds of plastic packaging waste last year. This is comprised of the air pillows, bubble wrap, and other plastic packaging items added to the approximately 7 billion Amazon packages delivered in 2019, according to news accounts. The report found that Amazon’s estimated plastic packaging waste, in the form of air pillows alone, would circle the Earth more than 500 times.
“The study also, by combining the e-commerce packaging data with findings from a recent study published in Science, estimates that up to 22.44 million pounds of Amazon’s plastic packaging waste entered and polluted the world’s freshwater and marine ecosystems in 2019, the equivalent of dumping a delivery van payload of plastic into the oceans every 70 minutes.”
Deadliest plastics: bags and packaging biggest marine life killers, study finds
Graham Readfearn forThe Guardian
“Plastic bags and flexible packaging are the deadliest plastic items in the ocean, killing wildlife including whales, dolphins, turtles and seabirds around the globe, according to a review of hundreds of scientific articles. Discarded fishing line and nets as well as latex gloves and balloons were also found to be disproportionately lethal when compared with other ocean debris that animals mistakenly eat.
“The review, by the Australian government’s science agency, CSIRO, found ingesting plastic was responsible for killing animals across 80 different species. Whales, dolphins and turtles were especially at risk from eating plastic film, with seabird deaths linked more with ingestion of hard plastic pieces and balloons. Nets and lines from the fishing industry were found to be most lethal to seals and sea lions.”
Microplastics weathered by water are more likely to infiltrate an animal’s cells
Kasra Zarei for Environmental Health News
“Microplastic particles exposed to freshwater or saltwater environments are more likely than original, non-exposed particles to be taken up into an animal's cells, according to new research.
“The study offers new evidence that certain microplastics have more potential to infiltrate animals' bodies than previously thought – and this could be of particular concern for aquatic animals.”
Global sustainable fishing initiative agreed by 14 countries
Fiona Harvey for The Guardian
“Governments responsible for 40% of the world’s coastlines have pledged to end overfishing, restore dwindling fish populations and stop the flow of plastic pollution into the seas in the next 10 years.
“The leaders of the 14 countries set out a series of commitments on Wednesday that mark the world’s biggest ocean sustainability initiative, in the absence of a fully fledged UN treaty on marine life.”
How far does plastic float when it gets tossed in the ocean?
Kristin Toussaint for Fast Company
“A scientists put tracking devices on 25 bottles and put them in one of the world’s most polluted rivers to learn more about how plastic trash moves around the planet. The answer: almost 2,000 miles.”
No place is safe. Tiny bits of plastic pollute the snow, streams on iconic Mount Everest
Hannah Seo for Environmental Health News
“New analysis of 19 snow and stream water samples collected from the world's highest mountain—standing at 29,029 feet and located at the China-Nepal border— showed the presence of microplastics in every snow sample from five locations, and in three out of eight stream water samples from six locations. The concentrations of microplastics ranged from three to 119 microplastics per liter of snow and zero to two microplastics per liter of stream water.
“The research, funded by the National Geographic Society and Rolex and published today in the journal One Earth, is the first to document the presence of microplastics in snow and stream water on Mount Everest, the iconic peak famously first summitted by Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay in 1953 and which was recently cleared of 24,000 pounds of trash.”