Plastic has a big carbon footprint, accounting for 3.8% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Made of oil, gas, and coal, plastic generates heat-trapping gases at every stage of their life cycle.  The extraction and transportation of fuels, refining, and manufacturing are greenhouse-gas intensive. Plastic even emits traces of methane and ethylene when exposed to sunlight, and incineration releases all the stored carbon in the plastic into the atmosphere, along with other air pollutants.

And because plastic doesn’t decay, it doesn’t ever stop polluting. Humans have made 8.3bn tons of plastic since 1950, and to complicate the situation further, the vast majority of plastic is not actually getting recycled. A profound amount is ending up in the ocean, with an estimated 8 million metric tons of plastics entering the ocean yearly. The Great Pacific Garbage Patch, located between Hawaii and California,  is the largest accumulation of ocean plastic in the world. And, a recent study on microplastic pollution in oceans has found that the problem has been grossly underestimated. 

In 2019, a study published in Nature found that the amount of plastic could triple in 2060 if we do nothing about it. Find a Plastic Footprint calculator here and 15 ways to shrink your footprint here

In May 2022, a report “The Real Truth About the U.S. Plastic Recycling Rate” documented a recycling rate of 5-6% for post-consumer plastic waste in the U.S. for 2021. The per capita generation of platic waste has increased by 263% since 1980, the report said.

Join the reuse revolution here and learn about 10 simple steps you can take to move closer to zero waste.


At talks on cutting plastics pollution, plastic credits are on the table. What are they?

By Carlos Mureithi and Jennifer Mcdormett 11/18/23
Two groups that want reduced plastics production published a report Friday highly critical of plastic credits, calling them a flawed tool that won’t help with worldwide pollution from the material.
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One solution to the plastic crisis may lie in bugs’ bellies

By Allyson Chiu 11/16/23
One way to help tackle the growing plastic pollution problem could be all around us: microscopic bacteria and fungi.
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Is The World Getting One Step Closer To Actually Tackling Plastic Pollution?

By Aryn Baker 11/15/23
More than 1,000 delegates from 175 countries are here in Nairobi this week to figure out what to do about trash. Plastic trash, that is. About 430 million tons of plastic are produced annually, two-thirds…
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Plastic Has Changed Sea Turtles Forever

By Katherine J. Wu 11/15/23
As recently as the 1960s, perhaps later—within the life span of Tom Hanks, and within a few years of when the world was using its very first ATMs and contraceptive pills—nearly all of the planet’s…
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Dumped, Not Recycled? Electronic Tracking Raises Questions About Houston’s Drive to Repurpose a Full Range of Plastics

By James Bruggers 11/01/23
The message on the signs at the recycling drop-off site here was clear, and warmly welcomed by area residents who visited on a recent autumn Saturday to stuff bags of plastic waste into large green…
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A new report calls chemical recycling a ‘dangerous deception’ — and a former plastic lobbyist agrees

By Joseph Winters 11/01/23
As petrochemical companies continue to inundate the world with cheap plastic products and packaging — much of which is designed to be used once and then thrown away — they’ve been heavily promoting one solution…
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Patagonia just designed its warmest coat ever, and it’s made from trash

By Elizabeth Segran 10/24/23
Every day, Costa Rica produces four tonnes of plastic waste and a fifth of it ends up in rivers and on beaches. To tackle this problem, a company called Bionic dispatches teams to collect the…
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Think that your plastic is being recycled? Think again.

By Douglas Main 10/12/23
On a Saturday last summer, I kayaked up a Connecticut river from the coast, buoyed by the rising tide, to pick up trash with a group of locals. Blue herons and white egrets hunted in…
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The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is finally getting cleaned up — but what’s happening to all that plastic?

By Abby Jackson 10/04/23
A relatively uncharted island entirely made of trash, the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is an enigma. Still, reducing its size is an even bigger mystery.
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Microplastics Are Everywhere. What Are They Doing to Our Health?

By Sofia Quaglia 09/20/23
Microplastics are everywhere. Everyday items like clothing, food packaging, cosmetics and car tires shed tiny particles of plastics, which in turn find their way into blood, baby poop, placentas and breastmilk. According to recent research,…
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Massachusetts to ban state agencies from purchasing single-use plastic bottles, Healey announces

By Sabrina Shankman 09/18/23
In a typical year, Massachusetts’ state agencies buy roughly 100,000 plastic bottles — water, sodas, you name it. Like other plastic items, these bottles are made from fossil fuels and create climate-warming emissions both when…
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California’s plastic bag ban is failing. Here’s why

By Jessica Roy 08/24/23
The goals of Senate Bill 270, the so-called plastic bag ban, spoke to the “three Rs” of waste reduction: Reduce the number of plastic bags Californians use, reuse the ones they receive, and recycle them…
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Global Plastic Laws is an extensive database and resource library focused on plastic legislation that has been passed around the world.

The database includes 9 topics covering the full life cycle of plastics along with key issue areas. Click to learn more about each.

A Poison Like No Other: How Microplastics Corrupted Our Planet and Our Bodies Hardcover – October 27, 2022

It’s falling from the sky and in the air we breathe. It’s in our food, our clothes, and our homes. It’s microplastic and it’s everywhere—including our own bodies. Scientists are just beginning to discover how…

Beyond Plastics

Beyond Plastics is a nationwide project based at Bennington College in Bennington, Vermont, that pairs the wisdom and experience of environmental policy experts with the energy and creativity of college students to build a vibrant…

Plastic Proliferation Threatens the Climate on a Global Scale

The plastic pollution crisis that overwhelms our oceans is also a significant and growing threat to the Earth’s climate. At current levels, greenhouse gas emissions from the plastic lifecycle threaten the ability of the global…

Alaska Collaborative on Health and the Environment (CHE-Alaska) Webinar

Plastics have become an everyday part of our lives, including the many unintended consequences of plastic production, use, and disposal. Chemicals added to plastics – to make them stronger, more flexible, or UV resistant –…

The fundamental links between climate change and marine plastic pollution

Plastic pollution and climate change have commonly been treated as two separate issues and sometimes are even seen as competing. Here we present an alternative view that these two issues are fundamentally linked. Primarily, we…

How do Microplastics Affect Our Health?

The use of plastic is one of the conveniences of modern life, but in recent years microplastic contamination has become an emerging global concern. Microplastics ––plastic particles measuring less than 5mm ––are everywhere ––from the…

Microplastics and human health

The ubiquity of microplastics in the global biosphere raises increasing concerns about their implications for human health. Recent evidence indicates that humans constantly inhale and ingest microplastics; however, whether these contaminants pose a substantial risk…

Plastics pose threat to human health

Plastics contain and leach hazardous chemicals, including endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) that threaten human health. An authoritative new report, Plastics, EDCs, & Health, from the Endocrine Society and the IPEN (International Pollutants Elimination Network), presents a…

Breaking the Plastic Wave: Top Findings for Preventing Plastic Pollution

First-of-its-kind modeling analysis describes actions needed to stop plastic from entering the ocean.

BYOB – Bring Your Own Bag

New state and local laws permanently banning plastic bags will attempt to force a habit change among local consumers and retailers. According to Forbes, nearly 350 cities in 25 states now require the use of…

MacRebur: The Plastic Road Company

MacRebur’s mission is to help solve the waste plastic epidemic and the poor quality of roads we drive on around the world today. Our innovative solution involves processing waste plastics destined for landfill or incineration…

Plastic Footprint Calculator

If you are wondering what your yearly plastic consumption is, check out the plastic footprint calculator

A Detailed Review Study on Potential Effects of Microplastics and Additives of Concern on Human Health

The distribution and abundance of microplastics into the world are so extensive that many scientists use them as key indicators of the recent and contemporary period defining a new historical epoch: The Plasticene. However, the…

Drowning in plastic: Visualising the world’s addiction to plastic bottles

In a setback for environmental groups, California lawmakers early Saturday morning ended the 2019 legislative session without passing two bills that would have been the most ambitious effort in the nation to reduce the massive…

BBC Plastics Watch

Resources, education, and solutions all about plastic.

How plastics contribute to climate change

They generate heat-trapping gases at every stage of their life cycle.

Mapping the Flow of the World’s Plastic Waste

The first plastic material, Bakelite, was invented in 1907. It made its way into everything you can imagine: telephones, chess pieces, Chanel jewelry, and electric guitars.

Parley for the Oceans

Parley for the Oceans addresses major threats towards our oceans, the most important ecosystem of our planet. We believe the power for change lies in the hands of the consumer – given we all have a…

Plastic & Health

Despite being one of the most pervasive materials on the planet, plastic and its impact on human health is poorly understood. Human exposure to it grows with increasing plastic production and use. Research into the…

A Whopping 91 Percent of Plastic Isn’t Recycled

Mass production of plastics, which began just six decades ago, has accelerated so rapidly that it has created 8.3 billion metric tons—most of it in disposable products that end up as trash. If that seems…

Public health impact of plastics: An overview

Plastic, one of the most preferred materials in today's industrial world is posing serious threat to environment and consumer's health in many direct and indirect ways. Exposure to harmful chemicals during manufacturing, leaching in the…


A reporter kept a diary of her plastic use. It was soul-crushing

By Susanne Rust   08/15/23  
Plastic is everywhere. It’s in our bodies: our lung tissue, our blood and in the dark, tarry first defecation of newborns. It’s been discovered in the deepest recesses of the ocean and in the snow…
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Update: Plastics industry critical of the EPA Draft National Strategy to Prevent Plastic Pollution

By Deanne Toto   08/02/23  
This past Earth Week, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released the draft National Strategy to Prevent Plastic Pollution for public comment. The draft strategy was released alongside a White House Interagency Policy Committee (IPC)…
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14 attorneys general urge EPA to bolster plastic pollution strategy

By Clark Mindock   08/02/23  
A group of 14 attorneys general have urged the Biden administration to adopt a more comprehensive strategy to reduce plastic pollution, which they say should include reducing new plastic production and addressing fast-fashion waste.
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Researchers Find Microfiber Plastic Pollution in Remote Region of Antarctica

By Danielle Letenyei   07/31/23  
Antarctica is probably the farthest from civilization that you can get. There aren't many people there, unless you count penguins, seals, and some researchers. But still, Antarctica somehow has plastic pollution.
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You’re probably recycling plastic wrong. And it’s not your fault.­­

By Robert Gebelhoff   07/31/23  
Picture this: You finish a drink from a red Solo cup, and before throwing it out, you check the bottom of the cup to see the iconic recycling symbol. That means it can be tossed…
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Barbie and the Problem With Plastic

By Noah Gordon   07/20/23  
As much of the world eagerly awaits the new Barbie film starring Margot Robbie, UN negotiators are trying to address the parts of our plastic world that aren’t so fantastic.
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Canada commits to advancing global environmental action

Canada continues to demonstrate its commitment to addressing the global plastic pollution crisis. As part of its participation in negotiations towards the development of a historic and ambitious global agreement to end plastic pollution, Canada…
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New app helps young people turn tide on plastic pollution

Beneath the picturesque turquoise waters of Trinidad and Tobago, plastic pollution is wreaking havoc on marine ecosystems. Every year, more than 88,600 tonnes of plastic waste is deposited into the ocean around the Caribbean nation,…
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Compostable Plastic Is Garbage

By Saahil Desai   07/06/23  
In 2023, the options for a build-your-own fast-casual lunch can include wild Alaskan salmon, harissa honey chicken, cauliflower shawarma, seasonal roasted zucchini, preserved lemon vinaigrette, za’atar bread crumbs, creamy vegan feta, and skhug. But whatever…
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Umbrellas made from found plastic? One Mass. entrepreneur is giving it a try

By Hannah Nguyen   06/23/23  
It was a not-so-pleasant experience with an old umbrella that inspired Deirdre Horan to create a new kind of umbrella. On her way to work in Boston in 2018, Horan’s umbrella flipped inside out and…
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The ‘Sisyphus of Trash’ Struggles to Clean Relentless Waves of Plastic From a New York Island’s Beaches

By Devin Speak   06/20/23  
In just three years, Michele Klimczak has picked, hauled, weighed, documented and sorted more than 32,000 pounds of garbage from the shores of Fishers Island, New York. She finds plastics stamped with product expiration dates…
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Uber Vows to Scrap ‘Unnecessary’ Plastic Waste From Deliveries

By Thomas Seal   06/08/23  
Uber Technologies Inc. pledged to eliminate carbon emissions and “unnecessary” plastic waste from its growing delivery business by 2040, bringing it in line with goals at its ride-hailing arm.
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Why glass, paper and other options aren’t the simple alternative to plastic that they seem to be

By Allyson Chiu   06/07/23  
The list of plastic substitutes seems to be growing longer by the day as companies come up with novel products such as cling wrap made from potato waste, seaweed-based food wrappers and cassava starch bags.…
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Plastic pollution and climate change: 3 leaders chart the path forward

By Eleni Kemene   06/05/23  
Global coordination is essential, as plastic use is projected to triple by 2060, requiring a 3% reduction in annual fossil plastic use to meet climate targets. On World Environment Day, 5 June 2023, it is…
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The global plastics treaty can fight climate change — if it reduces plastic production

By Joseph Winters   06/02/23  
During the second round of negotiations for a global plastics treaty in Paris this week, diplomats have clashed over competing priorities — including the role of recycling and how to address toxic chemicals. But some…
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Yikes: Biodegradable Plastic Doesn’t Actually Break Down in the Ocean

By Molly Taft   05/24/23  
It’s tempting to think of purchasing plastic cups labeled as compostable or using plastic cutlery made of biodegradable materials as a better choice for the environment—but there are a lot of complexities at play. A…
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Second Session of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee on Plastic Pollution

The second session of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee to develop an international legally binding instrument on plastic pollution, including in the marine environment (INC-2) will take place from 29 May to 2 June 2023 at…
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UN Agency Provides Path to 80 Percent Reduction in Plastic Waste. Recycling Alone Won’t Cut It

By James Bruggers   05/17/23  
As delegates prepare to meet for a second negotiation on a global treaty to curtail plastic pollution, a pair of new reports from the United Nations Environment Program offers a roadmap of potential solutions to…
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Who Said Recycling Was Green? It Makes Microplastics By the Ton

By James Bruggers   05/16/23  
Research out of Scotland suggests that the chopping, shredding and washing of plastic in recycling facilities may turn as much as six to 13 percent of incoming waste into microplastics—tiny, toxic particles that are an…
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Yet Another Problem With Recycling: It Spews Microplastics

By Matt Simon   05/05/23  
The Plastic Industry has long hyped recycling, even though it is well aware that it’s been a failure. Worldwide, only 9 percent of plastic waste actually gets recycled. In the United States, the rate is…
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Our Way of Life Is Poisoning Us

By Mark O’Connell   04/20/23  
There is plastic in our bodies; it’s in our lungs and in our bowels and in the blood that pulses through us. We can’t see it, and we can’t feel it, but it is there.…
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Animals are migrating to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch

By Sarah Zhang   04/17/23  
The oceanic soup of plastic fragments is becoming a new kind of ecosystem....
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Where There’s Plastic, There’s Fire. Indiana Blaze Highlights Concerns Over Expanding Plastic Recycling

By James Bruggers   04/12/23  
The dense black smoke from a fire at a plastics recycler in Richmond, Indiana, that began Tuesday afternoon and continued burning on Wednesday, forcing the evacuation of 2,000 nearby residents, was  dramatic, but far from…
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Every stage of plastic production and use is harming human health: Report

By Tatum McConnell   03/21/23  
Plastic production is on track to triple by 2050, a potential influx of hazardous materials that the Earth and humans can't handle, according to a new report from the Minderoo-Monaco Commission on Plastics and Human…
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Inside the East Palestine Disaster: A Wake Up Call To Ban Toxic Vinyl Chloride & Go Beyond Plastics

Five of the train cars were carrying vinyl chloride, a known human carcinogen that is used to create polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastic. The railroad and state officials drained this toxic chemical into a ditch and…
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There are 21,000 pieces of plastic in the ocean for each person on Earth

By Michael Birnbaum   03/08/23  
A new study found far more plastic in global oceans than previously believed — and the amount is doubling every six years....
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Microplastics are polluting the ocean at a shocking rate

By Matt Simon   03/08/23  
Some 11 billion pounds of plastic particles are blanketing the surface alone. But a new study points to hope—if countries act now....
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Less plastic or more recycling – nations split ahead of treaty talks

By Joe Lo   02/22/23  
Ahead of talks on a new plastics treaty, nations are split over whether to target reductions in the amount of plastic that is produced or just to try and stop it from polluting land and…
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Scientists: Microplastics Warrant Urgent Action, Point to Human Health Risks

Human dietary exposure to microplastics is associated with a number of urgent health risks such as digestive, reproductive, and respiratory harm, and should be addressed with a “degree of urgency,” according to a report from…
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The plastic train wreck should be a wake-up call

Thanks to a mountain of deadlines a mile high, I haven't yet been able to focus as much attention on the East Palestine train derailment as I'd like, but two things were very clear to…
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The Coming Chemical Boom

Shale gas fueled a boom in the drilling industry and has provided cheaper fuel, displacing dirtier coal to generate electricity. It’s also feeding a spinoff industry in chemicals. Shell is building a multi-billion-dollar petrochemical plant…
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Join the Reuse Revolution

10 simple steps you can take to move closer to zero waste and reduce single-use plastic pollution
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Derailed train carried chemical used to make ‘the worst’ of the plastics

By James Bruggers   02/08/23  
Scientists say PVC is trouble for people and the environment throughout its lifecycle, from manufacturing to disposal, and is almost never recycled.
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Home Compostable Plastics Are Too Good to Be True

By Katherine Martinko   01/23/23  
Composting is a bit like alchemy. You put food scraps into a bin and, with the help of some busy microorganisms and insects, you end up with rich, usable soil. Converting trash to treasure is…
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‘Advanced’ Recycling of Plastic Using High Heat and Chemicals Is Costly and Environmentally Problematic, A New Government Study Finds

By James Bruggers   01/19/23  
The plastics industry’s quest to solve the problem of plastic waste through so-called “advanced” recycling—using chemical additives and sometimes extremely high heat to turn waste back into new plastics—is costly and comes with significant environmental…
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Tonnes Of Airborne Microplastics Drop Onto Cities Every Year

By Laurie Winkless   12/15/22  
Whether you’re talking about the environment or news headlines, it’s becoming clear that microplastics are everywhere. These three stories: “Synthetic fibers discovered in Antarctic sea ice”, “Blue whales may ingest 10 mil. pieces of microplastic…
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How Bad Are Microplastics? An Expert Weighs In.

By Julia Rothman   12/09/22  
A recent study revealed that each of us might be.....
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Democrats Have a New Plan to Fight Plastic Pollution

By Joseph Winters   12/05/22  
As international negotiators began hammering out the details of a global plastics treaty last week, legislators in the United States were busy unveiling a domestic policy to address the plastic pollution crisis.
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Battle lines drawn in talks on new plastics treaty

By Joe Lo   12/02/22  
As official talks on setting up a United Nations treaty on plastic pollution began in Uruguay this week, battle lines have started to form. Major oil and gas producers like the USA and Saudi Arabia,…
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Booker, Huffman, Merkley, Lowenthal Introduce Legislation to Address Plastic Production Crisis

Today, U.S. Senator Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Representative Jared Huffman (D-CA-2nd), together with U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and Representative Alan Lowenthal (D-CA-47th), introduced the Protecting Communities from Plastics Act, legislation that addresses the plastic…
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Your Packaging Is the Problem

By Caroline James   11/07/22  
Despite decades of recycling campaigns, we’ve done a terrible job educating consumers about what items can go in blue bins. Contributing to that, different municipalities accept different types of materials in their recycling programs. And…
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A New, Massive Plastics Plant in Southwest Pennsylvania Barely Registers Among Voters

By Emma Ricketts   11/05/22  
Environmentalists in Beaver County alarmed by harmful emissions from the plant once it opens say they are discouraged by most voters’ inattention, but not deterred.
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Most Home ‘Compostable’ Plastic Doesn’t Actually Break Down, Study Finds

By Angely Mercado   11/03/22  
Seemingly every corner of our world is now littered with plastics, and only a tiny percentage of it is ever recycled. To mitigate this, many companies are offering items labeled as “compostable” or “biodegradable” plastic—but…
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Global Brands Pledged to Curb Their Plastic Addiction. Last Year Shows Their Promises Don’t Add Up

By Alejandro De La Garza   11/02/22  
Multinational corporations are failing to reduce their use of plastics fast enough, according to a report released today, despite having pledged to use only reusable, recyclable, or compostable packaging by 2025.
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Recycling, Like Everything Else, Needs an Upgrade

By Mitch Ratcliffe   10/31/22  
Much has been written about last week’s Greenpeace report decrying the state of plastic recycling. Our recycling system is not just broken but considered a joke, a defeatist view that will cost us in the…
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Only 5% of plastic waste generated by US last year was recycled, report says

By Nina Lakhani   10/24/22  
Only 5% of the mountains of plastic waste generated by US households last year was recycled, according to new research by Greenpeace. Americans discarded 51m tons of wrappers, bottles and bags in 2021 – about…
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Microplastics May Be Cooling—and Heating—Earth’s Climate

By Matt Simon   10/20/22  
LIKE THE ASH spewed from a supervolcano, microplastics have infested the atmosphere and encircled the globe. These are bits of plastic less than 5 millimeters long, and they come in two main varieties. Fragments spawn…
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California Passed a Landmark Law About Plastic Pollution. Why Are Some Environmentalists Still Concerned?

By James Bruggers   10/12/22  
California has a new environmental law that’s described as either a major milestone on the road to tackling the scourge of plastic pollution—or a future failure with a loophole big enough to accommodate a fleet…
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Microplastics found in human breast milk for the first time

By Damian Carrington   10/07/22  
Microplastics have been detected in human breast milk for the first time, with researchers greatly concerned over the potential health impacts on babies. Infants are especially vulnerable to chemical contaminants and the scientists said further…
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The Plastics Industry Searches for a ‘Circular’ Way to Cut Plastic Waste and Make More Plastics

By James Bruggers   09/30/22  
Plastics executives embraced climate solutions at a major industry conference here last week and said they were betting on “advanced recycling” as a green response to the plastic waste problem, despite market headwinds and growing…
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