Its a podcast where we focus on solving ocean pollution at the source. Every download and view pulls a pound of trash from the ocean.
Nurdles are basically a type of microplastic in this case nurdles are small plastic pellets. They are the raw material which nearly all our plastic goods are made from. Exfoliating beads are found in cosmetics and get washed down the drain. The nurdles/microplastics become ingested by fish and enter the food cycle.
• Attract and concentrate environmental
pollutants like DDT and PCBs to highly
• Are mistaken for prey by many marines
animals and seabirds and the toxins
coating them can enter the food chain
• Do not go away – they just fragment into
smaller and smaller plastic particles
In the North Sea, 95% of fulmars studied
contained plastic –
astonishingly 273 nurdles
were recovered from one bird’s stomach.
First off global warming is a phenomenon of average global temperatures rising over time. Every year since 1970 average global temps have increased. Global sea levels have risen since then too. Sea level rise is caused by the melting of glacier caps and polar ice caps. The rise in sea level is contributed to the thermal expansion of water.
Why believe in global warming? Well whether you believe global warming is real or not lets put that aside.
Lets say you believe in global warming, now if you believe in global warming you inherently become more aware and conscious of your decisions.
I’d say most people that believe in global warming probably also believe in ideologies that are in favor of cleaner air, cleaner water, cleaner soil, and cleaner food. So if you believe in global warming what’s the worse that could happen? Cleaner air, water, soil, and food? Why not believe in that?
If you don’t believe in global climate change then you most likely want the opposite. Such as polluted air, trash-filled cities, bleached corals, and so on. All of these environmental issues have a negative impact on public health and the environment. Why would you want to keep it that way and what kind of belief is that?
Lastly, stop saying global warming, say global climate change, you can’t deny that, and you can’t deny we are in a climate crisis either.
We have 12 years to limit climate change catastrophe, warns UN
Urgent changes needed to cut the risk of extreme heat, drought, floods, and poverty, says IPCC
The world’s leading climate scientists have warned there is only a dozen years for global warming to be kept to a maximum of 1.5C, beyond which even half a degree will significantly worsen the risks of drought, floods, extreme heat and poverty for hundreds of millions of people.
The authors of the landmark report by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released on Monday say urgent and unprecedented changes are needed to reach the target, which they say is affordable and feasible although it lies at the most ambitious end of the Paris agreement pledge to keep temperatures between 1.5C and 2C.
If we don’t start to turn this environmental crisis around now then we have failed to pass on a healthy planet to our children.
Find Out More:
Microplastics are small plastic pieces less than five millimeters long which can be harmful to our ocean and aquatic life. …
Plastic slowly degrades into smaller itsy bitsy pieces of plastic called microplastic. Look carefully in the sand as you walk the beach chances you will see a world of plastic you’ve never seen before.
Microbeads are tiny pieces of polyethylene plastic added to health and beauty products, such as some cleansers and toothpastes.
Microplastics have been recorded in a range of zooplankton species, and they are already causing problems for these tiny – but vitally important – animals, even before the plastic particles make their way through the food web. Microplastics are rigid and tear up the digestive systems of zooplankton, which is the major cause of death after ingestion.
Zooplankton that survives the ingestion of microplastics is a vital food source to larger marine animals above them in the food chain. Over time the plastic and toxic concentrations of microplastic build up as you move up the food chain. This phenomenon is called bioaccumulation. If you eat fish chances are you’re ingesting large concentrations of toxic chemicals and plastic.
MOP stands for a cleaner ocean, we stand for a solution to stop ocean pollution forever. We see ocean pollution as an environmental crises filled with opportunities to rise up to the challenge. We know our solutions will stop ocean pollution but its just a matter of our resources.
For every item we sell and for every donation we receive we pledge to pick up a pound of trash off the beaches of Galveston. We have kept our word and our pledge keeps us going thanks to your support, we have picked up over 6,000 pounds of trash. We want to pick up more trash, but we also have a plan to prevent the trash from even ending up on the beaches of the world in the first place.
Zero Waste Plans for Cities
Stop Ocean Pollution Plan
Top of the Line Recycling Facility Plan
TAMUG Grad Project Plan
Clean the Streets Plan
The answer to ocean pollution is long, complex, and has a lot of depth. If you want to find out more follow our podcast and follow us on our Instagram @mop_Galveston.
If you want to help MOP grow support us by checking out our shop or making a donation. Thank you. BLESS UP. Ocean protectors and lovers.
A Packaging Recovery Note (PRN) is a type of document that provides evidence waste packaging material has been recycled into a new product. Basically, a PRN is a 1-ton bale of (hopefully) 1 type of recyclable material. As soon as this 1-ton bale is sold and shipped it is considered to be recycled regardless if the material ever becomes a new recycled product. Also, the 1-ton bale could be contaminated, which would also cause the bale to be land-filled.
“The UK’s recycling rates are exaggerated by the PRN system. National Governments give financial incentives to ship the material overseas. It is more favorable to bale it up and ship it overseas.” – Dominic Hobb Eunomia Environmental Consultancy
Material Recovering Facility or MRF is you basic recycling deposit facility. Majority of MRF’s don’t have the means to recycle on sight so they often sell the material in bulk to businesses that want the material. Often local bidders bid to low and its more economically favorable to ship the waste overseas. To find out more check out our FAQ “What is a PRN?”
After you put something into a recycling bin, it is sent to an MRF. MRFs sort these materials, removing contaminants (like food, non-recyclable plastic, hazardous waste, etc.) that cannot be recycled, and prepare recyclable materials for sale and transport.
The materials are then sold to facilities that reduce them to their raw form and turn them into something new (for example, melting plastic bottles down into another type of plastic). Slowing this process significantly threatens jobs in the recycling industry, causes recyclable materials to pile up, and depresses the price for recycled materials due to excess supply.
China has been the world’s biggest importer of waste for decades. China has imported paper, plastic, and scrap metal from other nations and processed these materials for reuse in the products they produce for export.
However, the implementation of National Sword has banned the import of most recyclable materials. This ban was caused by contamination and smuggling of illegal waste into China. This has created significant jams in the international recycling system, resulting in recycled material piling up at materials recycling facilities (MRFs) or worse, into landfills. This is affecting recycling efforts in the United States and abroad.
It is a policy in China that has banned the importation of certain types of solid waste, as well as set strict contamination limits on recyclable materials. This means that China will not accept shipments that are mixed with trash, the wrong type of recyclable, or low-quality recyclables like greasy paper goods. The policy was announced in July 2017, and the ban officially began January 1, 2018. In addition to the bans, China is reducing the number of import licenses, meaning that fewer businesses will be able to import waste.
What Countries? According to many sources China, Indonesia, and the Philippines are the biggest contributors to ocean pollution.
Europe, Sweden, and Italy are known for their zero waste programs. These countries are some of the top leading countries in the environmental movement.
United States is fairly low on the chart. To find out more were this data came from copy and paste the links below.
How? Well the how is pretty complicated but in short the more a country invests in its future the better it looks. While the U.S. is low in mismanaged waste their overall infrastructure is fairly weak compared to their economic status. To put in prespective we shipped over 70% of our recycled plastics to China or Hong Kong.
What happens when China closed their doors find out our FAQ “What is National Sword?”
In Galveston you can recycle paper if you attend Texas A&M University at Galveston. Or you can recycle paper at the Eco Center on their paper shredding days check for dates here.
In the U.S., we recycle a lot of paper; it accounts for half of the recyclables collected per year, and our paper recycling rate is 63 percent. However, paper still makes up 33 percent of our annual garbage output, so we have a long way to go.
Paper Recycling Tips
Avoid getting paper wet, as this significantly reduces the recycling market. If your curbside program accepts all materials in the same bin/cart, empty your containers before tossing them in so they don’t drain on your paper. If there’s rain in the forecast, wait until the morning of collection to put your bin at the curb.
If possible, use a black marker to remove sensitive information instead of shredding paper. Ink is easily removed in the recycling process, but shredding paper reduces the fiber lengths, making it more difficult to recycle into new paper.
Verify what types of paper are accepted in your area, as some communities only accept certain grades. Definitely check to see if your community accepts paper lined with plastic, such as frozen food boxes and cartons.
In the case of boxes (cardboard and paperboard), break them down to save room in your recycling bin.
So, you’ve cleaned out your closet and ended up with a big bag of clothing (or three) that you don’t like, don’t fit, or simply no longer need. What on earth do you do with it?
The fashion industry is now being counted as one of the world’s biggest polluters, right behind Big Oil, so making sure you dispose of old clothing properly is an important step toward mitigating its environmental effects.
Here’s a step-by-step checklist for all of your discarded duds.
1. Divide and Conquer
First, sort your stuff into three piles: great condition, good condition and poor condition. Great-condition clothing looks new, has retained its shape perfectly, and bears no signs of wear and tear. Usable-condition clothing may be a little bit faded or worn but still in wearable condition with no stains or holes. Poor-condition clothing is stained, threadbare or has holes in it.
2. Clothing Swaps and Consignment Stores
Great-condition clothing and accessories are excellent candidates for clothing swaps or consignment stores. To host a clothing swap, invite a handful of good friends who wear approximately the same size to bring their closet surplus, and you can exchange clothes among you.
Alternately, bring your items to a consignment store in your area. They’ll sell them for you and give you a portion of the proceeds.
3. Thrift Stores/Charity Donations
Good-condition clothing can be donated to a thrift store like Value Village, Goodwill or Salvation Army. There, the clothing is sorted, priced and placed on the sales floor for secondhand shoppers to find. Oftentimes thrift stores use the proceeds from the sale of these items to support charity initiatives.
4. Clothing Recycling
You really shouldn’t donate your poor-condition clothing to a thrift store — you’ll waste their time when it comes time to sort, and if you’re getting rid of it because of its condition, you can bet no one else will want to wear it, either.
For those stained, torn or otherwise unwearable textiles, clothing recycling is the answer. Find a drop-off spot near you using our Recycling Locator.
Some companies like Patagonia accept their own clothing items back for recycling, while fashion retailers like H&M and American Eagle Outfitters offer in-store clothing recycling bins to collect textiles and accessories of any brand, so recycling your clothing is now as easy as a trip to the mall.
In Galveston Texas aerosol cans can not be recycled at the ECO Center.
Do your best to use up all the product inside. If the can still has product inside, even if it’s nonhazardous product like whipped cream, your recycling program will not accept it. The easiest way to make sure it’s empty is to shake the can and listen for liquid inside, or spray until nothing comes out.
Most aerosol cans come with a plastic cap, which should be removed and recycled separately. Visit our recycling guide on plastic caps for more information.
DO NOT puncture a hole in the can to remove any remaining product, as the can will explode and hurt you. You should also not attempt to remove the spray nozzle on top of the can.
Verify whether your community accepts aerosol cans with other metal cans, or whether they are classified as household hazardous waste (HHW). There are separate disposal options for each.
Find a drop-off location for aerosol cans near you using our Recycling Locator.
Why Recycle Aerosol Cans
Aerosol cans are made of either aluminum or steel, both of which are high-value metals that can be infinitely recycled into new metal products
The recycling process involves safely puncturing the can, but if thrown in the garbage, the can could explode when crushed in a landfill.
In California and Colorado, aerosol cans are classified as universal waste, which reduces regulations and increases collection opportunities for this material. This means they are also banned from landfills and must be recycled.
Non-container glass, or “treated glass,” features chemicals to make it more durable. However, the first step in glass recycling is to melt the product in a furnace, and treated glass has a different melting point. If glassware were to be recycled with glass bottles, the glassware wouldn’t melt, and therefore it would contaminate the entire load.
When it comes to glass recycling, there’s container glass … and everything else. That’s because non-containers are treated with chemicals to make them more durable, but this reduces the recycling market for things like windows, mirrors, light bulbs and glassware.
Glass Recycling Tips
Do your best to prevent glass from breaking. Not only is broken glass dangerous for you, but it has little recycling value. If glass breaks, wrap it in a plastic bag before throwing away so sanitation workers won’t get injured handling it.
For windows and mirrors, you’ll need to find a construction and demolition (C&D) recycler to process the material. These companies don’t want to take one unit (especially if it’s broken), so unless you are a contractor, you’ll likely need to schedule a bulk waste pick-up with your local municipality’s solid waste office for your mirrors and windows.
Short answer yes!
First, steel cans must be separated in a materials recovery facility from aluminum cans using magnets (steel will attract, aluminum will not). The cans are crushed and baled, then sent to a metal recycler. Next, cans are pressure-washed with a chemical to remove the tin outer and inner layers, then shredded into tiny pieces and melted in a furnace into flat sheets. This recycled steel can be manufactured into new cans or other steel materials like beams, automotive parts or appliances.
While aluminum and steel cans are both made of metal, there are several distinct differences. Steel cans are magnetic (because of the presence of iron), so you can tell if a can is steel by whether it sticks to a magnet. Aluminum is more often used to package beverages (e.g., beer and soda), while steel is more often used to package food (e.g., coffee and pet food). Aluminum cans will make more money than steel cans when recycled, but steel is used in a larger variety of products when recycled, including buildings and cars.
Aluminum is a sustainable metal and can be recycled over and over again. An aluminum can is generally turned into a new can and back on store shelves within 60 days. Cans are usually available through curbside pickup or community drop-off locations nationwide
Foil is made from the same material as soda cans (aluminum), but since it’s most often contaminated with food waste or combined with plastic (like with yogurt tops), there’s no guarantee you can recycle it with your aluminum cans.
Aluminum Foil Recycling Preparation
You want to make sure that aluminum foil is as clean as possible before recycling. While burns and holes won’t affect the recycling market, you’ll want to remove any meats or sauces from the foil.
If you’re recycling aluminum foil that you bought and used for storage, separate the foil from the paperboard box and corrugated tube before recycling.
If foil is combined with other materials (such as in drink boxes, candy wrappers and yogurt tops) and can’t be separated, you’ll want to throw it away. Foil mixed with other materials is considered recycling contamination.
Combine all sheets of foil into one ball. This will keep the material easily separated from other products, and also prevent it from blowing away (aluminum foil is a very light material).
Aluminum is a sustainable metal and can be recycled over and over again. An aluminum can is generally turned into a new can and back on store shelves within 60 days. Cans are usually available through curbside pickup or community drop-off locations nationwide
After drinking aluminum cans don’t remove tabs, rinse them clean, turn them upside down to dry and recycle!
Plastic wrap and film packaging are generally #2 and #4 plastic, both of which are recyclable. Most plastic bags are recycled into composite lumber, but can actually become a wide variety of products. Drop-off locations and curbside pick-up programs for these plastics are available all over the country.
Please DO recycle:
Grocery & retail bags
The outer Wrapping from Napkins, Paper Towels, Bathroom Tissue & Diapers
Dry cleaning bags
The outer wrapping from bulk beverages
All clean, dry bags Labeled #2 or #4
Please DO NOT recycle:
Food or cling wrap
Prepackaged food bags (including frozen food bags and pre-washed salad bags)
Plastic Film That has Been Painted or has Excessive Glue Residue
Most bottles and jugs are #1 plastic (PET) or #2 plastic (HDPE), which are both accepted by most curbside recycling programs. The type of plastic is identified with a resin ID code on the bottle.
Occasionally you will find bottles made from #3-#7 plastics, such as those made from plants instead of natural gas. These plastics may not be collected in your curbside program.
Find Recycling Guides for Other Materials
Plastic Bottle & Jug Recycling Preparation
Most recycling programs ask that you rinse your bottles and jugs before recycling. The remnants often contain sugar, which will attract insects and generate odors.
You’ll want to check with your local program whether to keep caps on the bottles, or whether caps are accepted at all. Some programs want the cap on to prevent loose caps from falling out during transportation. Others want the cap off to ensure the bottle is empty and because their recycling machinery may be damaged when trying to crush a capped bottle.
You should be OK leaving the label on the bottle, but it’s unlikely to be recycled since it’s a low-grade quality of paper or plastic.
Why Recycle Plastic Bottles & Jugs
Plastic bottles are among the most common sources of marine debris, where they can be mistaken as food by birds and fish.
Plastic bottles don’t biodegrade, meaning it will take hundreds of years for them to decompose in a landfill.
In America, we use 2.5 million plastic bottles each hour, and they are all designed for one use.
Using recycled plastic to make new products saves 66 percent of the energy over using virgin material.
Plastic Bottle & Jug Recycling Process
Recycling centers use optical scanners to identify the type of plastic resin, so #1 and #2 plastics are separated from each other and other materials (such as paper and glass). Bottles are then crushed (where caps are removed if you haven’t already done so) and baled to be sent to a plastic recycler.
Recyclers will shred the #1 or #2 plastic into flakes, which are washed, rinsed and dried. Flakes are then melted into pellets, then transported to a manufacturer to make new plastic bottles/jugs or other products, such as lining for sleeping bags, T-shirts, carpet, or playground equipment.
In Galveston you can recycle plastic bags at the Eco Center or at Kroger they have a plastic bag drop off ass you enter the store.
Most plastic bags are made from high-density polyethylene (#2 plastic), but the thinner-material bags (such as produce bags) are made from low-density polyethylene (#4 plastic). The recycling collection supply is abundant, mostly through collection bins at grocery stores.
Plastic Bag Recycling Preparation
Remove anything inside the bags, such as receipts, stickers, or crumbs. All these items will contaminate your bag load.
Keep a bag collection bin in your house, such as one big garbage bag for all bags. Since they compact easily, you should be able to fit 50 to 100 plastic bags in one garbage bag.
Make sure any bags you are recycling have a #2 or #4 plastic symbol on them. If not, you can’t be sure what plastic resin the bag is made from, so you’ll want to reuse it instead, before eventually throwing it away.
Why Recycle Plastic Bags
Plastic bags are among the most common sources of marine debris, where they can be mistaken as food by birds and fish.
Plastic bags don’t biodegrade, meaning it will take hundreds of years for them to decompose in a landfill.
Recycling a ton of plastic bags (about 450,000 bags) saves 11 barrels of oil.
Plastic Bag Recycling Process
Plastic bag recycling involves chipping the bags into pellets. While pellets can then be reprocessed into new bags, they will most likely be shipped to a company like Trex to be manufactured into plastic lumber.
In Galveston: Yes caps are one of the following numbers and the caps are usually the same type of plastic as the bottle. Galveston accepts #1-9 Plastics except #3(PVC) so to help you out all caps are recyclable on the island. I keep my caps on, but I don’t see taking them off being a problem.
The recycling community has debated for years over what to do with plastic bottle caps. The plastic industry has even weighed in, trying to set general rules, but every local recycling program has its own preferences.
Much of the confusion with caps stems from the fact that they are made of a different plastic resin than the bottle or jug they secure. Most caps are made of polypropylene (#5 plastic), with some (like sports drink bottles) composed of high-density polyethylene (#2 plastic). Plastic bottles and jugs are typically #1 or #2 plastic.
Plastic Cap & Lid Recycling Preparation
For plastic bottles, you need to ask your local recycling program whether caps are accepted before trying to recycle them with the bottle. Some will ask you to leave them on, some accept caps but want them separated, and some will ask you to throw them away.
For plastic containers (e.g. butter tubs, yogurt cartons), the lid is usually made of the same material as the base. If the container is #5 plastic, odds are strong that the lid is as well. In these cases, feel free to reattach the lid before recycling if your program accepts non-bottle plastics.
A 2016 debris removal effort of Midway Atoll, an island with a population of less than 60 in the middle of the Pacific Ocean (1,300 miles from Honolulu, the closest city), found almost 5,000 bottle caps; if not recycled, these caps travel a large distance and pose a danger to marine life because of their small size
Plastic caps don’t biodegrade, meaning it will take hundreds of years for them to decompose in a landfill
In America, we use 2.5 million plastic bottles each hour, and every one of them is manufactured with a cap.
Thanks to: earth911.com
First lets get the facts straight:
Most ocean pollution begins on land. When large tracts of land are plowed, the exposed soil can erode during rainstorms. Much of this runoff flows to the sea, carrying with it agricultural fertilizers and pesticides. These fertilizers and pesticides cause algae blooms, ocean acidification, and coral bleaching. Eighty percent of pollution to the marine environment comes from the land. Therefore 20% of ocean pollution is caused by ships.
Ultimately the majority of pollution comes from land, this means most of pollution can be prevented.
More than 80 percent of the world’s wastewater flows back into the environment without being treated or reused according to the UN.
This means land based pollution can be largely contributed to point source pollution, which could be prevented with a proper infrastructure.
Now with the philosophical answer to “Whats the source of ocean pollution?” The source of ocean pollution isn’t at the river mouths or in the ocean. Ocean pollution comes from major cities it comes from us! Humans! We need to become closer to the problem so we can figure out the real answer. We need to create a circular economy instead of a product to waste economy.
Refuse single use plastics when you can and reuse plastic when you do use it. Remember there is no away.
I stumbled across this question and wanted to answer it in my own words. Some one answered the question with the following:
“Recently I saw a clip on television about a company that was going to send out boats with some sort of collection device for the purpose of collecting plastic from the ocean. But most of the plastic ends up as small particles, so I don’t know how they can be removed, other than by filtering.”
The quote above is either referring to two ocean conservation organizations the Ocean Clean Up or 4 Ocean. Regardless of the great work of these two organizations they seem to be further away from the source of the solution. They seem to be focused on the end of the problem. The trash ends up in the ocean but it gets there because of human behaviors wether the pollution is caused on purpose or incidental, ultimately it is up to us to stop ocean pollution from happening. The source of the problem is the production of plastic without a effective and proper system to reuse the plastic we produce.
If you want to find out more how you can get involved in stopping ocean pollution click here.
The production of new plastic needs to be refused, because we have an endless supply of plastic waiting to be reused and re manufactured.
For bonus I included the following answer because I liked it a lot:
“The doing is difficult
Don’t use so much
Control where it goes when you’re through with it
Thing one: Use reusable substitutes; glass and plastic containers instead of sheet plastic
Thing two: Use less plastic in single- use situations. Rely more on paper. Use plastic containers that are reusable
Thing three: Dispose of plastic where it will be destroyed or used in new applications
Come to treat the oceans as sacred entities, even if you live far inland.”
I liked the ending quote greatly. The solution is simple. We need to stop using single use plastics. Use paper when you can. Make sure the products you buy support a better future. And lastly treat our planet and the ocean with respect because they’re sacred entities.
Arround 60-70% of plastics end up in the land fill. First off landfills are gross even when they are managed properly. Throwing away a resource is economically and environmentally unfriendly. Quite frankly there is no away. Check out the FAQ titled, “Is there an away for plastic? to dive deeper into this profound question.
Landfills are expensive they take up valuable space. About two-thirds of landfill waste contains biodegradable organic matter from households, business and industry. As this material decomposes it releases methane gas. Plastic also has this effect on the environment but it takes longer for the plastic to degrade, which means the environmental damages caused by plastic is still to come.
As a potent greenhouse gas, methane traps up to 20 times more heat in the atmosphere compared with carbon dioxide the EPA states. In the U.K., much of that methane from landfill sites produce electricity, with carbon dioxide as a by-product, which has a weaker global warming effect. Oftentimes the air surrounding landfill sites smells unpleasant, due to the decaying organic waste. Landfills increase pollution by releasing greenhouse gases and leechate from the dumped waste.
Greenhouse gases: when organic matter decomposes to produce methane (CH4) and carbon dioxide (CO2) — both are greenhouse gases which contribute to climate change. In some landfill sites, methane gas can be captured and ‘flared’ (burned) for energy production. Plastic, which is hard to break down, degrades over very long timescales (particularly under low oxygen conditions) does not contribute to this effect.
Leachate: decomposing material can produce nutrient-rich or polluted waters which — if not properly contained — can leach to the surrounding environment and potentially enter waterways and soils. Well-managed landfills are usually surrounded by protective lining to prevent water leaching to the surrounding environment. However, local pollution can occur where this is not implemented effectively, or the lining breaks down and is not replaced.
United States only recycles roughly 15% of its waste. Most of recycling doesnt actually get recycled let me explain. Lots of recycling becomes baled. A bale is bundle of one specific material usually in the shape of a square which roughly weighs 1,000 pounds. Bales are used to group a certain material together. Its important to recycle because that is where the material should go, because it can be reused.
Recycling is vital for economic growth. Sounds pretty counter intuitive but if we had a system that capitalized on our waste this would lead to substantial growth. That being said the U.S. throws away $11.4 billion dollars worth of recyclable containers and packaging every year.
Although you can just produce and sell virgin plastics etc creating a circular economy would lower the cost of that resource. Which would help lower production costs for eco-friendly businesses.
The reason recycling is so expensive or not as effective as it could be right now is because the U.S. government funds the production of petroleum and petro based products such as plastics.
If we just invested in our future the economic growth that would follow would be well worth it from a business perspective. Investing in a circular economy would also be investing in a brighter future for the overall health of planet Earth.
Check out the environmental effects of landfills by clicking or FAQ titled, “Whats wrong with dumping recyclables in landfills?”
Understanding how the new process works means understanding a little bit about the chemistry of plastic. Most plastics are made of polymers, chains of hydrogen and carbon which are chiefly derived from petroleum products like crude oil. Polymers are composed of shorter strands called monomers. To give plastics certain characteristics like toughness, flexibility or color, certain chemicals are added which from strong bonds with the monomers.
While many polymers are thermoplastic, meaning they can be melted down and reused, the additives bonded to them can interfere with the process. So when plastics are ground up and mixed together for recycling, all those additives make the final product unpredictable and lower quality. That’s why most recycled plastic is “downcycled” or turned into items like handbags or benches instead of completing the recycling loop by becoming milk jugs, water bottles and Greek yogurt tubs
“Most plastics were never made to be recycled,” Peter Christensen at the Berkeley Lab and lead author of the new study in Nature Chemistry says in a press release. “But we have discovered a new way to assemble plastics that takes recycling into consideration from a molecular perspective.”
Read more: https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/new-plastic-can-be-recycled-endlessly-180972130/#16RAhuSsMAplrrzh.99
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Biodegradable plastic is plastic which degrades under biological (mainly microbial) action. Most biodegradable plastics need to be composted at an industrial plant. Some biodegradable plastics are compostable (but not all), which means they degrade under controlled conditions, such as those occurring at compost (or anaerobic digestion) sites.
Different biodegradable plastics only degrade under certain specified and tested conditions (e.g. degradable in soil, in wastewater treatment plants, etc), but most need industrial composting facilities, which, as we’ll argue further on, is their reasonable destination. They may biodegrade in open environment, but the speed at which this occurs is wide-ranging, and related test methods and standards are not sufficiently defined and universally accepted. Compostable plastics need to further adhere to a set of requirements such as fragmentation, absence of ecotoxicity and threshold concentrations of potential pollutants such as heavy metals.
Important note: Biodegradable plastics (including compostable) cannot and must never be seen as a 100% replacement to traditional plastics, and reduction must come first. The reusable option must always be considered first, if suitable to the specific operational conditions.
Most importantly, biodegradable (and compostable) plastics cannot be considered as a solution to the problem of littering, as an “easy to degrade” material in the open environment. They are, instead, a material to be incorporated in the separate collection of organics, and related compost schemes. As already specified, while we have consistent standards on compostability, there are still uncertainties around their biodegradability (and related test methods) in fresh/salt water, or the open environment, and related behaviour until they fully degrade.
Looking beyond the current take-make-waste extractive industrial model, a circular economy aims to redefine growth, focusing on positive society-wide benefits. The U.S. throws away $11.4 billion worth of recyclable containers and packaging every year.
Circular economy entails gradually decoupling economic activity from the consumption of finite resources, and designing waste out of the system. Underpinned by a transition to renewable energy sources, the circular model builds economic, natural, and social capital. It is based on three principles:
Design out waste and pollution
Keep products and materials in use
Regenerate natural systems
In a circular economy, economic activity builds and rebuilds overall system health. The concept recognizes the importance of the economy needing to work effectively at all scales – for large and small businesses, for organisations and individuals, globally and locally.
Transitioning to a circular economy does not only amount to adjustments aimed at reducing the negative impacts of the linear economy. Rather, it represents a systemic shift that builds long-term resilience, generates business and economic opportunities, and provides environmental and societal benefits.
Well I wish it was that simple. I wish there was a way to travel back in time and replace all plastics with bio-degradable plastics. And even with biodegradable plastics the problem is still going to happen. So whats the solution? Read our other FAQ’s: What does bio-degradable plastic actually mean? What is a circular economy? And finally; What can you do to stop ocean pollution?
Furthermore as much I hate saying it the world needs plastic. Before you get mad let me explain. Plastic has become a huge part of our lives, it is used in so many ways, its cheap, effective, light, and durable. We have over 8.3 billion tonnes of plastic on this earth and its not going anywhere. We need to stop producing new plastic and reuse what we already have. Cities, roads, and new products could be made with all of our old trash. If the resource is already here we need to use it and stop producing new plastics as much as we can.
This idea to build cities from recycled plastic seems far-fetched but companies are already using trash to build homes and roads. Reusing plastics for big projects has even become more real with technological advances. Recycling plastics is becoming much easier with new technologies such as PLAXX (oil made from recycled plastic), depolymerization, IBM VolCat, and PDK (polydiketoenamine) plastic.
Plastic has a lot of practicality, but plastic is the problem, but go even deeper and its the system behind it is the real problem. Take a look at the next question about circular economy and this will explain what the heart of the problem is.
While some is dumped directly into the seas, most trash gradually ends up in our oceans. An estimated 80% of marine litter makes its way to the ocean gradually from land-based sources―including those far inland―via storm drains, sewers, and other routes.
Even when the trash is place in a recycling container or in a trash can it still has a long journey. The trash can often be misplaced or blown away. The best thing you can do to stop plastic pollution is refuse plastic products.
Every year, 8 million metric tons of plastics enter our ocean on top of the estimated 150 million metric tons that currently circulate our marine environments.
More than 99% of plastics are produced from chemicals derived from oil, natural gas and coal — all of which are dirty, non-renewable resources. If current trends continue, by 2050 the plastic industry could account for 20% of the world’s total oil consumption.
Researchers estimate that more than 8.3 billion tonnes of plastic has been produced since the early 1950s.
Only 9% of all plastic waste ever produced has been recycled. About 12% has been incinerated, while the rest — 79% — has accumulated in landfills, dumps or the natural environment.
Plastic has been found in more than 60% of all seabirds and in 100% of sea turtles species, that mistake plastic for food. And when animals ingest plastic, it can cause life-threatening problems, including reduced fitness, nutrient uptake and feeding efficiency—all vital for survival.
The pollutants in ocean water kill planktons and other small mammals thereby hurting the human food chain where it has the severest impact: at the bottom of it. Phytoplankton produces 80% of the world’s oxygen. Pollutants also get into the large animals’ digestive systems when they eat these small animals dead or alive. So the story continues till the pollutants reach the humans. It is clear that the pollutants either destroy the food available to the humans or contaminate them.
The interesting part is that many forms of this pollution get concentrated in a process called bioaccumulation as it moves up the food chain. Bioaccumulation occurs when an animal eats another animal or organism and retains the pollutants that were inside its meal. Biologists often find higher levels of toxins in bigger fish that have long life spans, because those fish eat many smaller ones and retain the metals they contained. This results in high levels of toxins, such as mercury, arsenic and lead, in the bigger fish. Swordfish and king mackerel are big fish that display particularly high mercury levels, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Mercury causes kidney damage in mammals and is a carcinogen. When birds and mammals then eat the polluted aquatic life, the contaminants spread throughout the food chain. Those pollutants that climb up the ladders food chain of humans include certain pesticides, heavy metals and pharmaceuticals. The primary toxic heavy metals in our water are lead, arsenic and mercury. Pharmaceuticals such as steroids and hormones, in addition to pesticides, disrupt the endocrine systems of wildlife. The feminization of amphibians, neurological problems and cancer all result from endocrine-disrupting pollutants. A 2011 World Health Organization report points out that it is impossible for even the most advanced drinking water treatment methods to entirely remove pharmaceuticals.
Some pollutants called persistent pollutants remain active in ocean waters for several years. They tend to be the ones that bioaccumulate the most. These pollutants include certain pesticides, heavy metals and pharmaceuticals. The primary toxic heavy metals in our water are lead, arsenic and mercury. Pharmaceuticals such as steroids and hormones, in addition to pesticides, disrupt the endocrine systems of wildlife. The feminization of amphibians, neurological problems and cancer all result from endocrine-disrupting pollutants. A 2011 World Health Organization report points out that it is impossible for even the most advanced drinking water treatment methods to entirely remove pharmaceuticals.
Where agricultural runoff is emptied through the river systems into the oceans, they cause an overabundance of nutrients. An overabundance is also form pollution. Many fish and small animals die because of the oversupply of nutrients in the water. Scientists refer to this effect as eutrophication. The Gulf of Mexico dead zone is an oceanic area that is overloaded with nutrients. A series of events cause the water to become lacking of oxygen, causing fish that come in contact with this dead zone to die.
Basically eutrophication is an abundance of nutrients causing a cloud of algae to bloom. The algae then begins to die over time, bacteria feed off the algae and oxygenize the water.