Visible ocean plastics just the tip of the iceberg

Visible ocean plastics just the tip of the iceberg

Simulations find the majority of ocean plastics may be on the seafloor or otherwise difficult to monitor, with vastly more plastic waste likely trapped on land

Simulating a half century of movement and degradation of plastic waste in the ocean, a new study estimates that nearly two-thirds of ocean plastics are outside the reach of current monitoring methods. Furthermore, the study suggests that the estimated 25.3 million metric tons of total ocean plastics may represent only 5% of all mismanaged plastic waste to date, with the rest still on land.

Read the full story here: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2022/03/220318092128.htm

plastic scrap

Stanford pediatric arbovirologist Desiree LaBeaud’s quest to eradicate mosquito-borne diseases led to an unlikely culprit: plastic trash

LaBeaud’s quest to eradicate mosquito-borne diseases led to an unlikely culprit: plastic trash

via Stanford Report

In 2021, Stanford pediatrician and arbovirologist Desiree LaBeaud and her colleagues launched the nonprofit organization HERI-Kenya to reduce the spread of mosquito-borne diseases in Kenya by cleaning up the plastic waste where the insect breed.

The Aedes aegypti mosquito is a global havoc-wreaker, responsible for debilitating and deadly illnesses ranging from dengue fever to chikungunya and Zika virus. With a prodigious ability to multiply and a growing range extending from Africa and South America to much of Asia and many parts of the United States, it infects an estimated 400 million people annually.

plastic scrap
photo credit: Julia Joppien

 

No vaccines or therapeutics are available for these illnesses, so targeting the insect’s breeding grounds is critical to saving lives.

That’s why, in 2015, one of the first things Desiree LaBeaud did upon joining the Stanford Department of Pediatrics was apply for a Bechtel Faculty Scholar Award. She wanted to use the funds to teach Kenyan school children and community members about the mosquito breeding grounds around their homes. She had been studying mosquito-borne illness in Kenya for over a decade as a pediatric arbovirologist, a specialist who studies diseases caused by blood-sucking insects such as mosquitoes and ticks. She saw that dengue fever was sickening many Kenyan children due to a lack of awareness about its cause and how to prevent it.

Read the full story here: https://news.stanford.edu/report/2022/02/09/investigating-mosquito-borne-diseases-led-unlikely-culprit-plastic-trash/

How ‘super-enzymes’ that eat plastics could curb our waste problem

How ‘super-enzymes’ that eat plastics could curb our waste problem

via The Guardian

plastic scrap
Photo by Catherine Sheila on Pexels.com

Beaches littered with plastic bottles and wrappers. Marine turtles, their stomachs filled with fragments of plasticPlastic fishing nets dumped at sea where they can throttle unsuspecting animals. And far out in the Pacific Ocean, an expanse of water more than twice the size of France littered with plastic waste weighing at least 79,000 tonnes.

The plastic pollution problem is distressingly familiar, but many organisations are working to reduce it. Alongside familiar solutions such as recycling, a surprising ally has emerged: micro-organisms. A handful of microbes have evolved the ability to “eat” certain plastics, breaking them down into their component molecules. These tiny organisms could soon play a key role in reducing plastic waste and building a greener economy.

Read the full story here: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2022/feb/05/how-super-enzymes-that-eat-plastics-could-curb-our-waste-problem

Trafficking of plastic waste is on the rise and criminal groups are profiting, report says

via LA Times

Americans like to think they are recycling their plastic takeout food containers, cutlery and flimsy grocery bags when they toss them into those green or blue bins. But, too often, that waste is shipped overseas, sometimes with the help of organized crime groups, where it litters cities, clogs waterways or is burned, filling the air with toxic chemicals.

report published Monday by the independent Swiss research group Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime, whose members include current and former law-enforcement officials, sheds new light on how this waste winds up in poorer countries that had agreed not to accept it.

Read the full story here: https://www.latimes.com/environment/story/2021-11-08/report-trafficking-of-plastic-waste-is-on-the-rise-and-criminal-groups-are-profiting

New Road Pavement Mixture Designed to Incorporate Plastic Waste

via KPCW.org

Each year in the US, millions of tons of plastic waste are discarded and not recycled, leading to serious environmental problems. In an effort to help keep this waste from ending up in the environment, University of Missouri engineers are partnering with Dow and the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) to design a new road pavement mixture using plastic waste.

Read the full story here: https://www.kpcw.org/post/new-road-pavement-mixture-designed-incorporate-plastic-waste#stream/0

Partnership to study chemically recycling plastics from ASR

via Recycling Today

plastic scrap recycling

Eastman, Kingsport, Tennessee, has announced that it is collaborating with Padnos and the United States Automotive Materials Partnership LLC (USAMP) on a concept feasibility study to recycle mixed plastic scrap recovered from automotive shredder residue (ASR). USAMP is a subsidiary of the United States Council for Automotive Research LLC (USCAR).  

ASR consists of mixed plastic and other materials and currently end up in landfills or in waste-to-energy technologies. Under this initiative, Padnos, Holland, Michigan, will supply ASR as a feedstock for Eastman’s molecular recycling process. The company operates auto shredders in Holland and Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Read the full story here: https://www.recyclingtoday.com/article/padnost-eastman-usamp-studing-chemically-recycling-asr/

New plant-based plastics can be chemically recycled with near-perfect efficiency

via Academic Times

German chemists have developed two sustainable plastic alternatives to high-density polyethylene that can be chemically recycled more easily and nearly 10 times as efficiently, thanks to “break points” engineered into their molecular structures.

Derived from plant oils, the new plastics were presented in a paper published Wednesday in Nature as low-waste, environmentally friendly replacements to the conventional fossil fuel-based plastics that enter natural ecosystems at a rate of millions of tons per year.

Read the full story here: https://academictimes.com/new-plant-based-plastics-can-be-chemically-recycled-with-near-perfect-efficiency/

‘Preventing more, picking up less.’ Proliferating plastic pollution sparks change in approach

via Phys.org

As plastic pollution soars—filling waterways, air, soil and living things with the material—some in St. Louis are joining efforts to confront the crisis through new approaches.

Experts hope the shifting strategies—which include harnessing crowd-sourced data to learn more about what kind of waste accumulates and where—could result in better policy interventions and ultimately help spark widespread reevaluation of who shoulders the burden of plastic waste. That means potentially pushing greater responsibility toward producers, instead of leaning on consumers to constantly clean up the mess as disposable, single-use plastic proliferates.

Read the full story here: https://phys.org/news/2021-06-proliferating-plastic-pollution-approach.html

DOE invests $14.5M in plastics recycling R&D

via Waste Today Magazine

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), Washington, has announced it plans to invest up to $14.5 million for research and development to cut waste and reduce the energy used to recycle single-use plastics such as plastic bags, wraps and films. This funding is part of the department’s Plastics Innovation Challenge.

According to a news release from the DOE, this funding directed toward plastics recycling technologies will advance the department’s work to address the challenges of plastic scrap recycling and support the Biden administration’s efforts to build a clean energy economy and ensure the U.S. reaches net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

Read the full story here: https://www.wastetodaymagazine.com/article/department-energy-funding-plastics-innovation-challenge-update/

MSU Researchers Publish Study On Biomineralization Of Plastic Waste For Cement Mortar

via JDSupra

On April 13, 2021, Montana State University (MSU) researchers from its Norm Asbjornson College of Engineering published an article entitled “Biomineralization of Plastic Waste to Improve the Strength of Plastic-Reinforced Cement Mortar.” The study evaluates calcium carbonate biomineralization techniques applied to coat plastic waste and improve the compressive strength of plastic-reinforced mortar (PRM), a type of plastic-reinforced cementitious material (PRC).

Read the full sotry here: https://www.jdsupra.com/legalnews/msu-researchers-publish-study-on-8199658/