Planet plastic

Production, use, and fate of all plastics ever made (July 2017)

A paper authored by Dr Roland Geyer, an industrial ecologist from the University of California, Santa Barbara, and colleagues appears in the journal Science Advances. It is described as the first truly global assessment of how much plastic has been manufactured, how the material in all its forms is used, and where it ends up. Here are some of its key numbers.

  • 8,300 million tonnes of virgin plastics have been produced
  • Half of this material was made in just the past 13 years
  • About 30% of the historic production remains in use today
  • Of the discarded plastic, roughly 9% has been recycled
  • Some 12% has been incinerated, but 79% has gone to landfill
  • Shortest-use items are packaging, typically less than a year
  • Longest-use products are found in construction and machinery
  • Current trends point to 12 billion tonnes of waste by 2050
  • Recycling rates in 2014: Europe (30%), China (25%), US (9%)

Link: http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-40654915

Report link: http://advances.sciencemag.org/content/3/7/e1700782

Editorial note: This report is a very good summary of how reliant our modern lifestyle has become on plastic, which we come into contact with on a daily basis from our early childhood to death. It also highlights the huge detriment that shortest-use items such as straws have on the environment – they are used once and then instantly discarded, with a majority ending up in landfills or the oceans.

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Summary: A million bottles a minute: world’s plastic binge ‘as dangerous as climate change (06.2017)

Annual consumption of plastic bottles is set to top half a trillion by 2021, far outstripping recycling efforts and jeopardising oceans, coastlines and other environments

Link: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/jun/28/a-million-a-minute-worlds-plastic-bottle-binge-as-dangerous-as-climate-change?CMP=share_btn_link

Summary: Biodegradable plastics: are they better for the environment?

Link: http://www.futurenergia.org/ww/en/pub/futurenergia/chats/bio_plastics.htm

Summary: The Pros and Cons of Bioplastics

Link: https://greenhome.co.za/the-pros-and-cons-of-bioplastics/

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Summary: Seven charts that explain the plastic pollution problem (12.2017)

Marine life is facing “irreparable damage” from the millions of tonnes of plastic waste which ends up in the oceans each year, the United Nations has warned.

Linkhttp://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-42264788

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Summary: ‘Zero tolerance’ plan eyed for plastic pollution (12.2017)

Linkhttp://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-42190678

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Summary: Lobster found with Pepsi logo ‘tattoo’ fuels fears over ocean litter (12.2017)

Linkhttps://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/nov/29/lobster-pepsi-logo-ocean-new-brunswick-canada?CMP=share_btn_link

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Summary: Sewage plants are leaking millions of tiny plastic beads into Britain’s seas (10.2017)

Linkhttps://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/oct/11/sewage-plants-are-leaking-millions-of-tiny-plastic-beads-into-britains-seas?CMP=share_btn_link

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Summary: EU rules out tax on plastic products to reduce waste (10.2017)

Linkhttps://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/oct/06/eu-rules-out-tax-on-plastic-products-to-reduce-waste

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Summary: Kenya’s wooden dhows are a testament to the country’s proud tradition of boat building  (09.2017)

Linkhttp://edition.cnn.com/videos/world/2017/09/07/inside-africa-the-way-of-the-dhow-a.cnn

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Summary: Two Creatives Are Trying to Get a Giant Trash Patch in the Pacific Recognized as a Country (09.2017)

Linkhttp://www.adweek.com/creativity/two-creatives-are-trying-to-get-a-giant-trash-patch-in-the-pacific-recognized-as-a-country/

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Summary: Sea salt around the world is contaminated by plastic, studies show (09.2017)

Linkhttps://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/sep/08/sea-salt-around-world-contaminated-by-plastic-studies?CMP=share_btn_link

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Summary: National park ban saved 2m plastic bottles – and still Trump reversed it (09.2017)

Link: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/sep/26/national-park-plastics-bottled-water-ban?CMP=share_btn_link

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Summary: Plastic fibres found in tap water around the world, study reveals (09.2017)

Link: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/sep/06/plastic-fibres-found-tap-water-around-world-study-reveals?CMP=share_btn_link

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Summary: Kenya plastic bag ban comes into force after years of delays (08.2017)

Link: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-41069853

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Summary: Trump’s decision to allow plastic bottle sales in national parks slammed (08.2017)

Link: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/aug/20/trumps-decision-to-allow-plastic-bottle-sales-in-national-parks-slammed?CMP=share_btn_link

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Summary: The teenagers getting plastic bags banned in Bali (08.2017)

Link: http://edition.cnn.com/2017/08/16/asia/melati-isabel-wijsen-bali/index.html

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Summary: Fish confusing plastic debris in ocean for food, study finds (08.2017)

Behavioural evidence suggests marine organisms are not just ingesting microplastics by accident but actively seeking them out as food

Link: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/aug/16/fish-confusing-plastic-debris-in-ocean-for-food-study-finds?CMP=share_btn_link

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Summary: CNN: The village made entirely of plastic bottles  (08.2017)

Link: http://www.cnn.com/videos/world/2017/07/28/going-green-panama-plastic.cnn

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Summary: Indonesia pledges $1bn a year to curb ocean waste (07.2017)

Link: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/the-coral-triangle/2017/mar/02/indonesia-pledges-us1-billion-a-year-to-curb-ocean-waste?CMP=share_btn_link

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Summary: Production of enough plastic to cover Argentina causes havoc – study (07.2017)

Link: http://news.trust.org/item/20170719180257-d3b38/

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Summary: Americans use 2.5 million plastic bottles every hour! Most of them are thrown away! (07.2017)

Link: http://www.mrcpolymers.com/PlasticRecyclingFacts.php

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Summary: BBC World Service: Is it time to ban the plastic bottle? (radio podcast) (07.2017)

Every single second, 20,000 single-use drinking bottles are sold around the world. That is more than a million pieces of non-biodegradable rubbish produced every minute. And as demand grows in developing economies, so will the mountains of waste, with much of it ending up in the ocean.

We learn how the invention of the plastic bottle spawned an industry that has quickly got us hooked. We hear the consequences of our addiction from the man who has dedicated his life to The Great Pacific Garbage Patch. And, with one estimate that by 2050 there will be more plastic in our oceans than fish, we ask if we now need a radical solution. Is it time to ban the plastic bottle?

Link: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p058jgyr

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Summary: How can I save the ocean from plastic? (06.2017)

Linkhttp://edition.cnn.com/videos/world/2017/05/22/eco-solutions-econundrum-plastic-oceans.cnn/video/playlists/econundrum-playlist/

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Summary: Asian nations make plastic oceans promise (06.2017)

Link: http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-40195664

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Summary: Plastic polluted Arctic islands are dumping ground for Gulf Strea (06.2017)

Linkhttps://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/jun/16/plastic-polluted-arctic-islands-are-dumping-ground-for-gulf-stream?CMP=share_btn_link

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Summary: Special Report: A Plastic Tide | #OceanRescue (01.2017)

More than eight million tonnes of plastic is thrown away each year and washed out to sea. It takes centuries to break down. It’s eaten by marine creatures. And it’s in our food chain. Your seafood supper may have a synthetic garnish. Scientists just don’t know what effects it has on our health. Sky Ocean Rescue is doing something about it.

Linkhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D35YnZ7_WxM

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Summary: What Are the Benefits of Biodegradable Plastic? (05.2017)

Linkhttp://sciencing.com/benefits-biodegradable-plastic-22789.html

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Summary: Tesco plans could spell the end of the 5p carrier bag (05.2017)

Linkhttp://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/05/24/tesco-plans-could-spell-end-5p-carrier-bag/?WT.mc_id=tmg_share_em

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Summary: Britain fails to recycle 16 million plastic bottles every day (10.2016)

Link: https://www.recyclenow.com/news/2016-10-17-britain-fails-recycle-16-million-plastic-bottles-every-day

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Summary: How We Can Keep Plastics Out of Our Ocean (09.2016)

Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HQTUWK7CM-Y

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Summary: Biodegradable plastic ‘false solution’ for ocean waste problem (05.2016)

UN’s top environmental scientist warns bottles and bags do not break down easily and sink, as report highlights the ubiquity of plastic debris in oceans

Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HQTUWK7CM-Y

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Summary: The Plastic Age: A Documentary feat. Pharrell Williams  (04.2015)

We all talk about the Stone Age, the Iron Age and the Bronze Age, but what era are we living in right now? People are starting to refer to us as the – far less romantic – Plastic Age. We make 288 million tonnes of plastic a year, and unlike paper, metal, glass or wood, it does not oxidise or biodegrade, instead it ends up in our oceans, making the ratio of plastic to plankton 100:1. The way to make use of The Great Pacific Garbage Patch? Bionic yarn. Co-designed by Pharrell, G-Star’s RAW for the Oceans collection is the world’s first denim line created from plastic that has been fished out of the big blue and recycled. Find out how we can pick 700,000 tonnes of plastic up off the sea floor in our documentary, made possible by G-Star, The Plastic Age.

Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HQTUWK7CM-Y

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Summary: Plastic waste heading for oceans quantified (02.2015)

Link: http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-31432515

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Summary: Vice: Garbage Island: An Ocean Full of Plastic (video: Part 1/3) (09.2012)

Vice sails to the North Pacific Gyre, collecting point for all of the ocean’s flotsam and home of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch: a mythical, Texas-sized island made entirely of our trash.

Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D41rO7mL6zM

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Summary: Plastic planet (09.2009)

Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a7X-J1DhfjE

Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wz7htO1TCic

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Reports:

Source: International Solid Waste Association (ISWA) – An Overview of the Compostability of Biodegradable Plastics and its Implications for the Collection and Treatment of Organic Wastes (12.2015)

Report Link (file download): www.iswa.org/index.php?eID=tx_bee4mememberships_download&fileUid=244