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!
Health threat of plastics outlined in authoritative report
“In a newly published authoritative report, scientists on behalf of the Endocrine Society and the International Pollutants Elimination Network (IPEN) have outlined the various ways exposure to plastics can disrupt a person’s endocrine system.
“The report presents the latest research on the types of chemicals that can cause health problems and the plastic products that typically contain them.”
Banks called out for their role in financing plastic pollution
“A new report, Bankrolling Plastics, says that banks are in part responsible for the plastic pollution crisis, because they are ‘lending vast sums of capital without making any effort to address the plastic pollution crisis. ‘By indiscriminately funding actors in the plastics supply chain, banks have failed to acknowledge their role in enabling global plastic pollution. They are not introducing any due diligence systems, contingent loan criteria, or financing exclusions when it comes to the plastics industry.’
“Despite the outcry around the world at the damage caused by plastic pollution, ‘there are no signs they are reducing this level of funding’ or making lending contingent on efforts to reduce pollution, the report says. ‘This implies that banks are currently not taking any responsibility to understand, measure, or reduce the impacts of their loans within the plastics value chain,’ the report says.”
A new processing technique could easily convert plastic waste to fuel
“A new catalyst process developed by researchers at Tohoku and Osaka City Universities has proven capable of breaking down plastic waste into chemicals that are useful, including fuels and even wax. This new process could prove incredibly useful as the planet struggles with plastics that are filling landfills and, in general, becoming a serious threat to the environment.
“At present, even the most efficient ways of recycling common plastics require an incredible amount of energy. The processes demand high heat in order for the molecules in the plastic to break down, making recycling efforts far less viable than they would be if the plastic could be broken down with less energy expenditure.
The scientists in Japan developed a new catalytic process that utilizes ruthenium, a metal, and cerium oxide to break down plastics at temperatures below 500 degrees Kelvin. By comparison, modern plastic recycling efforts require temperatures of anywhere between 570 and over 1,170 degrees Kelvin to be viable.”
Archaeologists find 2,000 pieces of plastic at Iron Age site
“Castell Henllys is the site of an Iron Age village in the Welsh Pembrokeshire Coast National Park. It was once home to a wealthy family that included a community of up to 100 people who worked together to produce food and materials 2,000 years ago.
“What began as an experiment to understand how building materials decay and degrade over time turned into something else when the researchers uncovered a wealth of plastic -- 2,000 plastic items to be exact.
“Among the plastic fragments were utensils, bottle caps, straws, straw wrappers, plastic bags, plastic food wrap, candy wrappers and even apple stickers.”
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 while supporting the research, innovation, technology, advocacy, and education that can prevent more plastic from entering our oceans. Every piece of single-use plastic you refuse, every bad habit you change, and every pound you pull does make a difference.