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

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

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

British Company That Uses Waste Plastic To Pave Roads Bringing Process To U.S.

via Forbes

British manufacturer MacRebur has already helped paved thousands of miles of roads in the U.K. with asphalt that contains waste plastic, says CEO Toby McCartney. The company is setting up shop in Florida and has its eye on millions of tons of wasted plastic in the United States.

The company says its process of turning waste plastic into an asphalt additive can help keep plastic out of landfills and incinerators and create stronger streets, all at reduced costs.

Read the full story here: https://www.forbes.com/sites/jeffkart/2021/02/03/british-company-that-uses-waste-plastic-to-pave-roads-bringing-process-to-us/?sh=4b9fee9d313d


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    Java’s protective mangroves smothered by plastic waste

    via Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research

    The mangrove forests on Java’s north coast are slowly suffocating in plastic waste. The plastic problem in northeast Asia is huge and a growing threat to the region’s mangroves; a natural ally against coastal erosion. Based on fieldwork published in Science of the Total Environment, NIOZ researcher Celine van Bijsterveldt shows that restoration of this green protection belt is impossible without better waste management.

    Read the full story here: https://www.nioz.nl/en/news/javas-protective-mangroves-smothered-by-plastic-waste

    This Norwegian start-up wants to build houses out of 100% recycled plastic

    via WeForum.org

    Using one of the world’s problems to solve another is the philosophy behind a Norwegian start-up’s mission to develop affordable housing from 100% recycled plastic.

    Since 1950, more than nine billion tonnes of plastic have been produced globally, of which only 9% is recycled, according to building tech company Othalo, while almost a billion people live in slums.

    Read the full story here: https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2020/11/un-africa-recycled-plastic-housing/

    The Uneasy Afterlife of Our Dazzling Trash

    via The New York Times

    Every day, for the past 14 years, Bruce Bennett has received packages filled with CDs. Sometimes a few at a time and sometimes in packs of hundreds, shiny old discs arrive at his CD Recycling Center of America in Salem, N.H., a 300-foot blue trailer tucked behind a commercial strip, to ascend to the CD afterlife.

    The CD recycling process requires Mr. Bennett, 55, to store a truckload, or approximately 44,000 pounds, of CDs in a warehouse before the discs can be granulated into raw polycarbonate plastic, resulting in a white and clear powdery material that glints and resembles large snowflake crystals stuck together.

    Read the full story here: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/11/07/style/the-uneasy-afterlife-of-our-dazzling-trash.html?action=click&module=Well&pgtype=Homepage&section=Style