In the News - Log 7: 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!
What’s the fix for the U.S. plastic waste pile up?
“The U.S. generates more plastic waste than any country worldwide, having cranked out an estimated 42 million metric tons of it in 2016 alone, according to a recent study published in Science Advances. That figure is likely even higher today, says Kara Lavender Law, the lead study author and a professor at the Sea Education Association.
“‘Our estimate is based on the latest available data [some of which is seven years old], and we were conservative. Meanwhile, we have seen waste generation grow yearly,’ Law says.
“This newest chapter in the story of U.S. plastic wastes has brought attention to two quandaries. One is the country’s contribution to a global waste problem. The other dilemma is an increasingly inundated domestic waste management system as overseas markets shrink, with some countries who historically received tons of our mixed, dirty bales now refusing them.
“After crunching the U.S. waste generation numbers, Law and her colleagues set out to answer the question: What happens with this mountain of plastic trash? Research shows that less than 7% of it is recycled – so where does the rest go?”
Plastic petition by UK nine-year-old gains over 70k signatures in under a week
“A petition by a nine-year-old schoolgirl calling on Boris Johnson to stop shipments of plastic waste to developing countries has received more than 70,000 signatures in less than a week.
“Lizzie A, who is studying plastic pollution in year 4, said she began the petition because sending Britain’s unsorted plastic waste to poorer nations is ‘unfair’ and wrong. She took action last week after her mother, Esther, showed her a piece in the Guardian’s Seascape series, revealing the UK will continue to ship plastic waste to developing countries despite an EU ban on the practice from this month.”
Clothes washing linked to ‘pervasive’ plastic pollution in the Arctic
“The most comprehensive study to date found the microplastics in 96 of 97 sea water samples taken from across the polar region. More than 92% of the microplastics were fibres, and 73% of these were made of polyester and were the same width and colours as those used in clothes. Most of the samples were taken from 3-8 metres below the surface, where much marine life feeds.”
Seagrass ‘Neptune balls’ sieve millions of plastic particles from water, study finds
“Underwater seagrass in coastal areas appear to trap plastic pollution in natural bundles of fibre known as “Neptune balls”, researchers have found.
“With no help from humans, the swaying plants – anchored to shallow seabeds – may collect nearly 900m plastic items in the Mediterranean alone every year, a study reported in the journal Scientific Reports said.”
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 bad habit you change, and every pound you pull makes a difference.