PLASTICS

PLASTICS

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.

CREDIT: WWF.ORG.AU

CURRENT NEWS

KEY RESOURCES

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

10/28/22
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

09/07/22
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

05/02/22
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

02/23/22
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

02/01/22
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?

09/20/21
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

02/12/21
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

12/15/20
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

10/01/20
First-of-its-kind modeling analysis describes actions needed to stop plastic from entering the ocean.

BYOB – Bring Your Own Bag

03/28/20
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…

Plastic Pollution

03/06/20
The impact of plastic pollution on our oceans and what we can do about it.

MacRebur: The Plastic Road Company

03/02/20
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

02/22/20
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

02/13/20
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

11/30/19
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

11/30/19
Resources, education, and solutions all about plastic.

How plastics contribute to climate change

11/27/19
They generate heat-trapping gases at every stage of their life cycle.

Mapping the Flow of the World’s Plastic Waste

11/27/19
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

11/14/19
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

02/01/19
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…

Public health impact of plastics: An overview

12/01/11
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…

MORE NEWS

npr

How Big Oil Misled The Public Into Believing Plastic Would Be Recycled

By Laura Sullivan  Photo: Laura Sullivan , npr   09/11/20  
Laura Leebrick, a manager at Rogue Disposal & Recycling in southern Oregon, is standing on the end of its landfill watching an avalanche of plastic trash pour out of a semitrailer: containers, bags, packaging, strawberry…

Why Bioplastics Will Not Solve the World’s Plastics Problem

By Jim Robbins  Photo by Martin Bernetti   08/31/20  
Bioplastics are being touted by industry marketers as the solution to plastics pollution. But the idea that bottles and packaging made of plant-based material can simply be discarded and then break down and disappear is…

Big Oil Is in Trouble. Its Plan: Flood Africa With Plastic.

By Hiroko Tabuchi, Michael Corkery and Carlos Mureithi  Photo: Khadija M. Farah for The New York Times   08/30/20  
Confronting a climate crisis that threatens the fossil fuel industry, oil companies are racing to make more plastic. But they face two problems: Many markets are already awash with plastic, and few countries are willing…

Wait, How Much Microplastic Is Swirling in the Atlantic?

By Matt Simon  Photo by Getty Images   08/18/20  
Scientists calculate that the top 200 meters of ocean alone contains up to 21 million metric tons of plastic. And that wasn't even counting microfibers.

Waste plastic cascade could triple in 20 years

By Tim Radford  Photo: Antoine GIRET on Unsplash   07/30/20  
In a throwaway world, some discards are forever. New research measures the crisis of the world’s waste plastic.
CNN

The Plastic Free July challenge is here to help you rid your life of single-use plastic waste

By Joe Bagliere   07/05/20  
Unlike dance battles and dangerous dares, here's a "challenge" just about anyone can get behind. The Australia-based Plastic Free Foundation is once again recruiting participants to take the Plastic Free July challenge -- that is…

A threat from above: Plastic rains down on US National Parks and Wilderness areas

By Kate S. Petersen  Photo by Brian Bienkowski   06/12/20  
The study is the first to calculate rates of microplastic pollution from the atmosphere onto American protected areas and adds to a growing body of research suggesting that microplastics are traveling long distances in the…

Microplastic pollution in oceans vastly underestimated – study

By Damian Carrington  Photo: Louisa Gouliamaki/AFP via Getty Images   05/22/20  
The abundance of microplastic pollution in the oceans is likely to have been vastly underestimated, according to research that suggests there are at least double the...

The end of plastic? New plant-based bottles will degrade in a year

By Jillian Ambrose  Photo by Diego Azubel   05/16/20  
Beer and soft drinks could soon be sipped from “all-plant” bottles under new plans to turn sustainably grown crops into plastic in partnership with major beverage makers.

Hoovering the ocean

By Hugo Kugiya  Photo: Sandy Huffaker for The Washington Post)   05/13/20  
FRED, a solar-powered catamaran built by the organization Clear Blue Sea, retrieves marked water bottles during a test run in Mission Bay in San Diego. (Sandy Huffaker for The Washington Post)
CNN

Coronavirus is causing a flurry of plastic waste. Campaigners fear it may be permanent

By Rob Picheta  Photo: Johannes Eisele/AFP/Getty   05/04/20  
All of the defining images of the coronavirus pandemic seem to feature one thing: plastic.

‘Microplastic Hot Spots’ Are Tainting Deep-Sea Ecosystems

By Matt simon  Photo by Juan Carlos Munoz   04/30/20  
OFF THE COASTS of Corsica and Sardinia in the Mediterranean Sea swirls an omnipresent yet vanishingly small menace: microplastics. By this point, it comes as no surprise to scientists that they would find the tiny…

Coronavirus Plastic Waste Polluting the Environment

By Nikolia Apostolou  Photo: Vincenzo Lombardo / Getty Images   04/25/20  
By Nikolia ApostolouOver a month into the lockdown and the usually bustling streets of Kalamata, a Greek city southwest of Athens traditionally known for its olives,...

Plastic Wars

By Willy Kurniawan   03/31/20  
With the plastic industry expanding like never before and the crisis of ocean pollution growing, FRONTLINE and NPR investigate the fight over the future of plastics.
npr

Plastics Industry Insiders Reveal the Truth About Recycling

By Patrice Taddonio  Photo by Jonathan Elderfield   03/31/20  
It was the late 1980s, and the plastics industry was under fire. Facing heightened public concern about ever-increasing amounts of garbage, the image of plastics was falling dramatically. State and local officials across the country…

Don’t Let This Pandemic Ruin the Fight Against Single-Use Plastics

By Katherine Martinko   03/26/20  
Listen to scientists, not industry lobbyists, and just keep cleaning. The coronavirus has triggered some unexpected environmental benefits in recent days.
CNN

How plastic can be recycled to build roads

03/02/20  
Engineer Toby McCartney has found a way to mix recycled plastic in with asphalt to make new roads.

Company Is Using Plastic Bottles To Make Roads That Last 10x Longer Than Asphalt

03/02/20  
The creation of plastic in 1907 marks an important point in mankind and the history of Earth. It is the year in which we created one of the most durable, but also environmentally harmful materials…

Take One Last Look at the (Many) Plastic Bags of New York

By Annalisa Quinn   02/28/20  
With a new state ban going into effect, we bid farewell to the purple flower, the smiley face and the THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU designs that have adorned city life for decades.

Enforcement of state plastic bag ban delayed until April 1

By Yancey Roy  Photo by Debbie Egan-Chin   02/28/20  
A state judge on Friday granted a short-term victory to opponents of New York’s pending ban on single-use plastic bags, signing an order to delay enforcement until at least April 1 while a lawsuit continues.

Coke and Pepsi sued for creating a plastic pollution ‘nuisance’

By Erin McCormick  By Pedro Pardo   02/27/20  
Coke, Pepsi, Nestlé and other large companies are being sued by a California environmental group for creating a plastic pollution “nuisance” and misleading consumers about the recyclability of plastic.
mnn

Most plastics in our recycling bins aren’t getting recycled, new report finds

By Starre Vartan  Photo by Imran   02/24/20  
Most recycling programs accept plastics labelled 1 through 7, but in the vast majority of cases, only #1 (PET) and #2 (HDPE) actually get recycled, a new report via Greenpeace has found.

More Plastic Is On the Way: What It Means for Climate Change

By Renee Cho  Photo: Kqedquest   02/20/20  
With the recent fracking boom causing low gas prices, fossil fuel companies are seeking other ways to bolster their profits — by making more plastic. Just as the world is starting to address its enormous…

Amercans dump 100 plastic bottles in nature each year

By Sergio Peçanha   02/19/20  
The plastic that wound up not recycled or in landfills in 2017 added up to about two pounds per person, or the equivalent of 100 plastic bottles, according to a calculation by Jan Dell, an…

NY’s plastic bag ban is coming: Here’s what to know about the stores, the charges and the changes

By Sarah Taddeo and Chad Arnold  Photo by Getty Images   02/14/20  
As New York’s single-use plastic bag ban takes effect in grocery stores across the state, smaller convenience and retail locations are gearing up for a huge hit to their bottom lines — and a habit…

Meet America’s new superpolluters: Plastic plants

By Benjamin Storrow  Photo by Jim West   01/21/20  
The Sunshine Project, a gargantuan petrochemical complex planned on 2,500 acres along the Mississippi River south of Baton Rouge, La., will be one of the largest greenhouse gas emitters in America when it becomes fully…

China Says It Will Ban Plastics That Pollute Its Land and Water

By Chris Buckley  Photo by Johannes Eisele   01/20/20  
Though likely to be welcomed by many Chinese who worry about pollution, the measures could be a hard sell for a society used to convenience. By Chris Buckley

Plastic bags have lobbyists. They’re winning.

By Samantha Maldonado, Bruce Ritchie and Debra Kahn  Photo by David Paul Morris   01/20/20  
Eight states ban the bag, but nearly twice as many have laws protecting them.

Activists Find Evidence of Formosa Plant in Texas Still Releasing Plastic Pollution Despite $50 Million Settlement

By Julie Dermansky  Photo by Julie Dermansky   01/18/20  
Wilson described the occasion as “day one of the zero discharge settlement.” As of that date, Formosa could be fined up to $15,000 a day if it were found still discharging nurdles. That would put…

Plastic additive linked to excessive reproductive abnormalities

By Stephanie Dutchen   01/10/20  
New findings shed light as to how DEHP, a common chemical in plastic, may impact human reproductive health....

New Citizen Science Project Asks: Is It Snowing Plastics?

By Marie Denoia Aronsohn   12/20/19  
The PlastiX-Snow project will track microplastics that contaminate Earth’s most remote and pristine locations. ...

Accelerating plastic recovery in the United States

By Thomas Hundertmark, Manuel Prieto   12/01/19  
Plastic has become ubiquitous in modern life. It keeps our food from spoiling, helps us transport goods with less energy and less breakage than other materials, makes our vehicles lighter and more energy efficient, and…

Boyan Slat Unveils the Ocean Cleanup Interceptor

By Dr. Joseph Mercola   11/30/19  
Boyan Slat, a young Dutch entrepreneur and his group, The Ocean Cleanup, have invented an ingenious collection barge to clean plastic debris from our oceans

Plastic waste on polar bears’ menu a growing problem

By Thomas Nilsen  Photo: Andrey Marchenkov   11/28/19  
Plastic waste makes up a quarter of the diet for polar bears, says Ivan Mizin, research director of Russian Arctic national park....

Recycling isn’t working – here are 15 ways to shrink your plastic footprint

By Emily Holden  Illustration: Sonny Ross/The Guardian   11/27/19  
Only 9% of plastics get recycled, and significant reductions will require systemic change – but there are easy tips for individuals to cut back

Most Americans would pay more to avoid using plastic, poll says

By Laura Santhanam   11/26/19  
Two-thirds of Americans are willing to pay more for everyday items made out of environmentally sustainable materials instead of single-use plastic, according to a survey from PBS NewsHour and Marist Poll.

She visited every country on Earth. She saw a world overwhelmed by plastic trash.

By Catharine Smith   11/15/19  
Travel blogger Jessica Nabongo saw the effects of plastic pollution all over the world....

How microplastics affect your health

11/15/19  
51 Trillion particles of microplastics float in our oceans. Yet there is very little science of how this affects our health. This video shows why we should gain back control over plastic in our lives.

Where plastic outnumbers fish by seven to one

By Helen Briggs   11/12/19  
Plastic is building up in the areas of the ocean where fish feed and grow, according to research.

Every human should be alarmed by the plastic crisis in our oceans

By Editorial Board   10/26/19  
“WITHOUT CHANGE,” warns a bipartisan group of senators, “there will be more plastic by weight than fish in the oceans by 2050.” Some of the signs of this growing crisis are visible: sea turtles caught in discarded…

Los Angeles is testing ‘plastic asphalt’ that makes it possible to recycle roads

By Adele Peters  Photo: TechniSoil Industrial   10/24/19  
By mixing recycled plastic bottles with chewed up asphalt, the new process repaves a road without adding any new asphalt—and makes it from a material that lasts longer.

Coca-Cola named most polluting brand in plastic waste audit

By Sharon Lerner   10/23/19  
Coca-Cola was responsible for more plastic litter than the next top three polluters combined....

How Coca-Cola undermines plastic recycling efforts

By Sharon Lerner   10/19/19  
Audio obtained by The Intercept reveals how Coca-Cola’s “green” philanthropy helped squelch an important tool in fighting the plastic crisis....

How plastics—and the chemicals in and attached to them—threaten future generations

10/18/19  
Redesign plastics. Reform chemical regulation. Recharge health advocates. That was the take-home message from Pete Myers—chair, founder, and chief scientist of Environmental Health Sciences, publisher of Environmental Health News—at the Plastic Health Summit 2019, which…

Dead Baby Turtle Found With 104 Pieces of Plastic in Stomach

By Jordan Davidson  Photo: City of Boca Raton / Gumbo Limbo Nature Center   10/07/19  
A baby sea turtle that washed ashore in Boca Raton, Florida last week had 104 pieces of plastic in it stomach. The plastic products ranged from wrappers to balloons to bottle labels to twist ties…

Unilever pledges to halve its use of new plastic by 2025

By Siddharth Cavale   10/07/19  
Consumer goods giant Unilever vowed to halve the amount of new plastic it uses over the next five years, by shifting to more recyclable and alternative materials and refillable options to meet consumer demand for…

Ocean Cleanup Project Finally Collects Plastic From Great Pacific Garbage Patch

By Michel Martin   10/05/19  
That giant pile of plastic trash in the ocean just got a little smaller. Dutch inventor Boyan Slat's Ocean Cleanup project recently collected its first plastic from the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.

The plastics industry’s fight to blame pollution on you

By Sharon Lerner   10/04/19  
The plastics industry has been promoting recycling and shaming “litterbugs” while fighting legislation that would limit plastics production....

Federal ‘Save Our Seas’ bill spurs debate over plastics recycling

By Katie Pyzyk E.A. Crunden  Photo: Brian Yurasits on Unsplash   10/02/19  
A multi-pronged piece of federal legislation known as the "Save Our Seas 2.0 Act" (collectively S.1982) recently made multiple advancements, despite recent opposition. Two bills (S.2260 and S.2372) were passed in their respective U.S. Senate…

P&G exec: Promising sustainability is easy; delivering on that promise is hard

By Jim Johnson  Photo: Jim Johnson   10/02/19  
Pledging to use recycled plastics in new packaging is easy. Actually doing it is a different story, according to an executive at one of the world's largest consumer goods companies.