Plastic-eating superworms with ‘recycling plant’ in their guts might get a job gobbling up waste

Plastic-eating superworms with ‘recycling plant’ in their guts might get a job gobbling up waste

via SCMP Scientists from Australia’s University of Queensland have discovered that a type of beetle larvae called Zophobas morio can consume and break down polystyrene. Research published in the scientific journal Microbial Genomics on June 9, 2022, says the superworms possess special gut enzymes that can break down plastic. The researchers say they now hope to study the enzymes to engineer ways the substance could be used to break down and dispose of plastic waste in the future.

Microplastics detected in meat, milk and blood of farm animals

Microplastics detected in meat, milk and blood of farm animals

via The Guardian

Microplastic contamination has been reported in beef and pork for the first time, as well as in the blood of cows and pigs on farms.

plastic scrap

Scientists at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (VUA) in the Netherlands found the particles in three-quarters of meat and milk products tested and every blood sample in their pilot study.

Read the full story here: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2022/jul/08/microplastics-detected-in-meat-milk-and-blood-of-farm-animals

Scientists unveil bionic robo-fish to remove microplastics from seas

Scientists unveil bionic robo-fish to remove microplastics from seas

via The Guardian

Scientists have designed a tiny robot-fish that is programmed to remove microplastics from seas and oceans by swimming around and adsorbing them on its soft, flexible, self-healing body.

Microplastics are the billions of tiny plastic particles which fragment from the bigger plastic things used every day such as water bottles, car tyres and synthetic T-shirts. They are one of the 21st century’s biggest environmental problems because once they are dispersed into the environment through the breakdown of larger plastics they are very hard to get rid of, making their way into drinking water, produce, and food, harming the environment and animal and human health.

Read the full story here: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2022/jun/22/scientists-unveil-bionic-robo-fish-to-remove-microplastics-from-seas

plastic scrap

Lab turns hard-to-process plastic waste into carbon-capture master

Lab turns hard-to-process plastic waste into carbon-capture master

via Phys.org

What seems like a win-win for a pair of pressing environmental problems describes a Rice University lab’s newly discovered chemical technique to turn waste plastic into an effective carbon dioxide (CO2) sorbent for industry.

plastic scrap

Rice chemist James Tour and co-lead authors Rice alumnus Wala Algozeeb, graduate student Paul Savas and postdoctoral researcher Zhe Yuan reported in the American Chemical Society journal ACS Nano that heating plastic waste in the presence of potassium acetate produced particles with nanometer-scale pores that trap carbon dioxide molecules.

Read the full story here: https://phys.org/news/2022-04-lab-hard-to-process-plastic-carbon-capture-master.html

 

Scientists find microplastics in blood for first time

Scientists find microplastics in blood for first time

via Phys.org

Microplastic sperules in tooth paste, about 30 µm in diameter. Credit: Dantor (talk) 20:55, 18 November 2013 (UTC), CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Scientists have discovered microplastics in human blood for the first time, warning that the ubiquitous particles could also be making their way into organs.

The tiny pieces of mostly invisible plastic have already been found almost everywhere else on Earth, from the deepest oceans to the highest mountains as well as in the air, soil and food chain.

Read the full story here: https://phys.org/news/2022-03-scientists-microplastics-blood.html

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

Activities at PVC market should be stopped till fire-safety arrangements made: Delhi Fire Service

via Outlook India

Terming a recent fire incident at the PVC market as the most “intense and widespread”, the fire department said, “It has been observed that the scrap is spilled outside the plots, covering almost the entire stretch of the road, and at some points, it is mixing with the scrap of other plots too. The situation is highly alarming from the fire safety point of view as it helps in propagation of fire at a rapid rate.”

The move comes after a massive fire broke out at an open godown in the PVC market in the Tikri Kalan area on July 11. According to the fire department, it took more than 200 fire-fighters over 10 hours to douse the blaze as PVC materials in huge quantities were stocked up at the spot and since the godown did not have a boundary wall, the risk of the fire spreading to the adjoining areas was high.

Read the full story here: https://www.outlookindia.com/newsscroll/activities-at-pvc-market-should-be-stopped-till-firesafety-arrangements-made-delhi-fire-service/2129182

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/