Plastic waste in the sea mainly drifts near the coast

via Science Daily

The pollution of the world’s oceans with plastic waste is one of the major environmental problems of our time. However, very little is known about how much plastic is distributed globally in the ocean. Models based on ocean currents have so far suggested that the plastic mainly collects in large ocean gyres. Now, researchers at the University of Bern have calculated the distribution of plastic waste on a global scale while taking into account the fact that plastic can get beached. In their study, which has just been published in the Environmental Research Letters scientific journal, they come to the conclusion that most of the plastic does not end up in the open sea. Far more of it than previously thought remains near the coast or ends up on beaches. “In all the scenarios we’ve calculated,” says Victor Onink, the study’s lead author, “about 80 percent of floating plastic waste drifts no more than 10 kilometers from the coast five years after it entered the ocean.”

Read the full story here: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2021/06/210602130246.htm

Sri Lanka Sues Singapore After Ship Spews Plastic Waste, Causing Huge Environmental Damage

via Global Citizen

Sri Lanka is currently dealing with “the worst beach pollution in our history,” after a Singapore-owned container ship carrying toxic chemicals caught fire, burnt for 12 consecutive days, and spilled plastic debris and other hazardous waste into the ocean. 

The ship, carrying tens of tons of nitric acid, caustic soda, sodium methoxide and methane, was located nine miles off the coast of the capital of Colombo when it caught fire on May 20.

Read the full story here: https://www.globalcitizen.org/en/content/plastic-pollution-ocean-ship-sri-lanka/

River plastic Interceptors are stopping trash from reaching the ocean

via CNET

Nonprofit The Ocean Cleanup is continuing its mission of ridding the world of ocean plastic by catching garbage before it makes its way to the sea. The organization has introduced a new third-generation Interceptor that it says can remove larger debris more efficiently and at a lower cost.

The Ocean Cleanup Interceptors were first announced by founder and CEO Boyan Slat in 2019. The trash Interceptors are moored to river beds and use river current to snag debris floating on the surface. Then they direct the trash onto a conveyor belt that shuttles it into six large onboard dumpsters. The Interceptors run completely autonomously day and night, getting power from solar panels. 

Read the full sotry here: https://www.cnet.com/news/river-plastic-interceptors-are-stopping-trash-from-reaching-the-ocean/

Nanoplastics — an underestimated problem?

via Science Daily

Wherever scientists look, they can spot them: whether in remote mountain lakes, in Arctic sea ice, in the deep-ocean floor or in air samples, even in edible fish — thousands upon thousands of microscopic plastic particles in the micro to millimeter range. This microplastic is now even considered one of the defining features of the Anthropocene, the age of the Earth shaped by modern humans.

Microplastics are formed by weathering and physicochemical or biological degradation processes from macroscopic plastic products, such as the tons of plastic waste in the oceans. It is unlikely that these degradation processes will stop at the micrometer scale. And so there is growing concern about the potential harmful effects nanoplastics could have on various ecosystems. “Numerous media reports suggest, through their sometimes highly emotional coverage, that we are facing a huge problem here,” says Empa researcher Bernd Nowack, who has long studied the material flows of synthetic micro- and nanoparticles, for example from textiles or tire abrasion, into the environment. But Nowack says at present this statement can hardly be substantiated by scientific findings: “We don’t even know how much nanoplastics there is in the different ecosystems.”

Read the full story here: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2021/05/210504112641.htm

A high-altitude clean-up in Bolivia’s Valley of the Souls

via Reuters

In Bolivia’s Valley of the Souls, razor sharp rock formations pierce the blue sky above the nearby highland city of La Paz, from where urban sprawl over years has left the picturesque spot littered with plastic waste and construction rubble.

Now the rocky canyon is getting a clean up amid a wider push to spruce up the South American country’s scenic spots and waterways, with hundreds of volunteers, aided by heavy machinery, shifting over 15 tons of debris in the last week.

Read the full story here: https://www.reuters.com/world/americas/high-altitude-clean-up-bolivias-valley-souls-2021-05-04/

Why 99% of ocean plastic pollution is “missing”

via Vox

Starting in the 1990s, the world’s attention began turning to the specter of ocean garbage patches — heaps of plastic and other debris that accumulate in distinct areas of the ocean, thanks to currents known as gyres. These patches came to symbolize our global addiction to plastic production and consumption.

A lot of the plastic we consume ends up in the ocean due to man-made causes, such as poor waste management practices. Some of it ends up there because of natural disasters. There’s a lot of Japanese plastic floating in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, for example, due to the 2011 tsunami. Japan is a country that otherwise has above-average waste management policies.

Read the full story here: https://www.vox.com/videos/22406194/plastic-pollution-in-the-ocean-99-percent-missing

This 185-foot sailboat can gobble up to three tons of plastic waste per hour

via Mobile Syrup

According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature, at least eight million tons of plastic end up in our oceans every year and make up 80 percent of all marine debris from surface waters to deep-sea sediments. If nothing is done about the situation, there will be more plastic waste in the oceans than fish by 2050. French ocean adventurer Yvan Bourgnon and his team have therefore taken it upon themselves to heal the ocean slowly but surely. They’ve designed Manta, a 185-foot, plastic-eating catamaran (sailboat) powered by renewable energy. Plastic trash is literally scooped up and converted into fuel to help power the catamaran.

Read more at MobileSyrup.comThis 185-foot sailboat can gobble up to three tons of plastic waste per hour

Could Plastic-Eating Mushrooms Solve Humanity’s Plastic Problem?

via Interesting Engineering

Since the mass production of plastics began in the 1950s, humans have created 9 billion tons of plastic, and this creates a crisis that’s not easy to tackle since plastic takes more than 400 years to degrade. Those used by the people of the ’60s still exist in some form, and with only 9 percent recycled, only 12 percent has been incinerated.

This has lead scientists to search for alternative methods for plastic reduction, and one solution that could aid humanity might be hidden in fungi. Scientists have discovered mushrooms that eat plastic over the years: Some mushroom species have the ability to consume polyurethane, which is one of the main ingredients in plastic products.

Read the full story here: https://interestingengineering.com/could-plastic-eating-mushrooms-solve-humanitys-plastic-problem

Airborne plastic pollution ‘spiralling around the globe’, study finds

via The Guardian

Microplastic pollution is now “spiralling around the globe”, according to a study of airborne plastic particles.

The researchers said human pollution has led to a global plastic cycle, akin to natural processes such as the carbon cycle, with plastic moving through the atmosphere, oceans and land. The result is the “plastification” of the planet, said one scientist.

Read the full story here: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/apr/12/airborne-plastic-pollution-spiralling-around-the-globe-study-finds

It’s not just oceans: scientists find plastic is also polluting the air

via The Guardian

plastic pollution
Photo by Vitaly Vlasov on Pexels.com

For several years scientists were puzzled why Delhi was more susceptible to thick smogs than other polluted cities such as Beijing. New research links this to tiny chloride particles in the air that help water droplets to form. Globally, chloride particles are mainly found close to coasts, due to sea spray, but the air in Delhi and over inland India contains much more than expected.

At first, the sources were thought to be illegal factory units around Delhi that recycle electronics and those that use strong hydrochloric acid to clean and process metals. These are certainly part of the problem, but new measurements have revealed another source.

Read the full story here: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/feb/26/not-just-oceans-plastic-polluting-air-delhi-smog