In a world increasingly troubled by the persistent harm that plastic — manufactured in petrochemical plants — has had on the environment, companies are investing billions of dollars to ramp up production of plastics made from natural, renewable materials that can be safely composted or can biodegrade under the right conditions.
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The flares started last December, an event Errol Summerlin, a former legal-aid lawyer, and his neighbors had been bracing for since 2017. After the flames, nipping at the night sky like lashes from a heavenly monster, came the odor, a gnarled concoction of steamed laundry and burned tires.
The global packaging company Amcor has joined forces with the Minderoo Foundation for the Sea the Future project, which plans to build a worldwide network of sorting and recycling plants.
The United States creates more plastic trash than any other country and ranks third among coastal nations for contributing litter, illegally dumped trash, and other mismanaged waste to its beaches. Yet, even with such an abundance of disposable plastic—scientists measured 46 million tons in 2016—the U.S. manages to recycle just under 9 percent every year.
The landmark legislation also restricts single-use plastics. Because California’s economy is so big, experts say, the law could have far-reaching effects.
The legislation heads off a November ballot measure that many lawmakers and the plastics industry hoped to avoid, and it puts California at the forefront of national efforts to eliminate polystyrene and other plastics that litter the environment, degrade into toxic particles and increasingly inhabit human blood, tissue and organs.
Canada will ban the manufacture and importation of “harmful” single-use plastics by the end of the year, the government said, in a sweeping effort to fight pollution and climate change.
In January, a poll commissioned by the ocean conservation nonprofit Oceana showed that 82 percent of Americans would support a ban on the sale and distribution of single-use plastics by the National Park Service. Now, that vision will become a reality. The Department of the Interior, or DOI, has announced a phaseout of single-use plastics — not only in national parks, but across the hundreds of millions of acres of public lands that the department manages.
Microplastics continue to infiltrate even the most remote parts of Earth. New research has identified tiny bits of plastic in the continent’s snowfall, likely arriving there from local sources, according to the team. These particles could enter the Antarctic food chain, while dark-colored microplastics may even speed up the melting of snow.
Driving the news: About half of the plastic waste produced globally is expected to end up in a landfill and less than a fifth is expected to be recycled, OECD found.
Plus, plastic consumption is set to rise from 460 million metric tons in 2019 to 1,230 in 2060 without aggressive action to curb demand, the OECD estimates.