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

The Toxic Consequences of America’s Plastics Boom

By Zoë Carpenter   03/14/19  
Thanks to fracking, petrochemicals giants are poised to make the plastic pollution crisis much, much worse.

Every Animal Pulled From the Deepest Part of the Ocean Had Plastic in Its Gut

By Joe McCarthy and Erica Sanchez  Photo by Alan Jamieson   02/28/19  
Stories of whales, turtles, and seabirds with guts filled with plastic have become increasingly common. Recently, a team of scientists wanted to determine the extent of plastic pollution and its effects on animals by investigating…

Investing in Solutions to Stop Ocean Plastic

12/04/18  
Plastic waste in the ocean represents one of the most urgent and fast-growing ecological challenges of our time. Scientists estimate that more than half of the 8 million metric tons of plastic that flows into…

Plastic In The Ocean: Billions Of Microplastic Nanoparticles Found In Scallop Intestines In Just Hours

By Kashmira Gander   12/03/18  
Scientists at the University of Plymouth in the U.K. exposed scallops to the nanoplastic carbon-radiolabeled nanopolystyrene in a laboratory setting. After six hours, they found billions of tiny particles had built up throughout their bodies.

How plastics waste recycling could transform the chemical industry

By By Thomas Hundertmark, Mirjam Mayer   12/01/18  
Reusing plastics waste could become an important driver of profitability for chemical companies. Incumbent players need to make the right moves now to tap this opportunity.

How did disposable products ever become a thing?

By Mark Miodownik   11/30/18  
So how did disposable products ever become a thing? The answer is that we had to be taught to like throwing things away, to accept it as normal. The story of how this happened is…

Recycled Plastic Is Being Used To Repave Roads Around The World

By Joe McCarthy  Photo: Jeremy Bishop on Unsplash   11/15/18  
Roads made from recycled plastic can cut down on plastic pollution.

An innovative solution for recycled plastics is hybrid asphalt for building roads

10/30/18  
An innovative solution for all the plastic that is choking the world’s landfills is to recycle it and use it to build roads.

‘A line in the sand’ – Global Commitment to eliminate plastic pollution at the source

10/29/18  
A Global Commitment to eradicate plastic waste and pollution at the source has been signed by 250 organisations including many of the world’s largest packaging producers, brands, retailers and recyclers, as well as governments and…

Where does your recycled plastic go? Perhaps into future highways.

By Ashley Halsey   10/28/18  
What should we do with all that plastic choking the world’s landfills? Why not recycle it and use it to build roads? Bound together with plastic polymers, the asphalt will be cheaper and last longer…

5 takeaways from the New Plastics Economy Global Commitment

By Lauren Phipps   10/28/18  
In a first-of-its-kind collaboration, the signatories to the New Plastics Economy Global Commitment — collectively responsible for producing 20 percent of all plastic packaging globally and represent the full value chain for plastics — have…

5 takeaways from the New Plastics Economy Global Commitment

By Lauren Phipps   10/28/18  
In a first-of-its-kind collaboration, the signatories to the New Plastics Economy Global Commitment — collectively responsible for producing 20 percent of all plastic packaging globally and represent the full value chain for plastics — have…

Why the plastic straw ban has nothing to do with straws at all

By Hilary Brueck  Photo: YouTube/Coca-Cola   10/22/18  
That problem won't be fixed by forgoing a straw, but environmentalists say letting go of a single piece of plastic could be a first step in a much-needed larger behavior change.

Could seaweed be the solution to our growing plastic problem?

10/09/18  
One 25 year old has designed a potential alternative to the billions of plastic sachets used in Indonesia and other developing countries.

Vermont now has nation’s broadest single-use plastics ban

By Elizabeth Gribkoff   10/07/18  
Gov. Phil Scott signed a bill into law on Monday that gives Vermont the distinction of having the most comprehensive restrictions on single-use plastic of any state in the U.S.
CBC

Giving up plastic is not as hard as it sounds, when you have a plan

By Lindsay Bird   10/07/18  
Advice from two women who've gone (relatively) plastic-free. Single-use plastic (SUP) is everywhere, which means trying to reduce the amount you use can get really overwhelming, really quickly. But as the movement to ditch many…

Here’s A List Of Every City In The US To Ban Plastic Bags, Will Your City Be Next?

By Trevor Nace  Photo: Pixabay   09/20/18  
Here, we've collected the 349 known cities, counties, and states to have, in some way, banned or taxed plastic bag use.

No time to waste: What plastics recycling could offer

By Thomas Hundertmark, Chris McNally, Theo Jan Simons, and Helga Vanthournout   09/01/18  
Plastics waste is hurting the chemical industry as well as the environment. By taking the lead on recycling, chemical players could add a new dimension to the industry and help solve the problem.

Bio-based plastics can reduce waste, but only if we invest in both making and getting rid of them

By Danny Ducat   08/16/18  
Bio-based plastics are a promising option for reducing plastic waste, but scaling them up will require substantial investments, both in making them and in special facilities for disposing of them.

Recycling Breaks Down: US Struggles to Keep Plastic From the Dump

By Noreen O’Donnell   08/13/18  
China has implemented a new recycling policy called National Sword, halting all imports of recycled materials. The U.S. was sending about 40 percent of its recycled goods to china before the policy's implementation which means…

Designing the Death of a Plastic

By Xiaozhi Lim   08/06/18  
Decades ago, synthetic polymers became popular because they were cheap and durable. Now, scientists are creating material that self-destructs or breaks down for reuse on command.

Recycled Plastic Waste Creates Roads

By Patrick J. Kiger   07/13/18  
A few years ago, engineer Toby McCartney was working in southern India with a charity that aided pickers who worked at landfill sites harvesting reusable items and selling them. McCartney discovered that plastic waste they…
BBC

What’s the Real Price of Getting Rid of Plastic Packaging?

By Richard Grey   07/06/18  
More than 78 million tonnes of plastic packaging is produced worldwide every year by an industry worth nearly $198 billion. Just a fraction of that is recycled while the vast majority is thrown away. Plastic…

New report offers global outlook on efforts to beat plastic pollution

By UN Environment Programme   06/05/18  
Released today, a new report from UN Environment finds a surging momentum in global efforts to address plastic pollution.

Earth Day 2018: Everything you need to know

By Morgan Winsor   04/21/18  
People around the world will come together this weekend to celebrate the planet and to take action to protect it.  Here's everything you need to know about Earth Day 2018.

Ghana is building Roads out of Plastic Bags

04/03/18  
The bags are shredded and mixed with sand, creating a new form of asphalt that is resilient and long lasting which also uses fewer natural resources to make.

Earth Day 2018 Aims to End Plastic Pollution

By Earth Day Network   02/21/18  
Earth Day Network, the organization that leads Earth Day worldwide on April 22, announced that Earth Day 2018 will focus on mobilizing the world to End Plastic Pollution, including creating support for a global effort to…

Seven charts that explain the plastic pollution problem

Produced by Alison Trowsdale, Tom Housden and Becca Meier   12/10/17  
Marine life is facing "irreparable damage" from the millions of tonnes of plastic waste which ends up in the oceans each year, the United Nations has warned.

Production, use, and fate of all plastics ever made

By Roland Geyer and Others   07/19/17  
A world without plastics, or synthetic organic polymers, seems unimaginable today, yet their large-scale production and use only dates back to ~1950. Although the first synthetic plastics, such as Bakelite, appeared in the early 20th…

A million bottles a minute: world’s plastic binge ‘as dangerous as climate change’

By Sandra Laville and Matthew Taylor   06/28/17  
Annual consumption of plastic bottles is set to top half a trillion by 2021, far outstripping recycling efforts and jeopardising oceans, coastlines and other environments.

Paving roads with recycled plastic

02/27/17  
Paving roads with recycled plastic.

France Is the First Country to Ban Plastic Cups, Plates, and Cutlery

By Yosola Olorunshola and Gaëlle Langué   09/19/16  
The French government has passed a law that could revolutionize barbecues, picnics, and birthdays. Starting in 2020, most plastic cups, plates and cutlery will be totally banned.

4 ways to talk to people about plastic, without sounding like a jerk

By Lindsay Bird  Photo: Jack Taylor/Getty Images   05/25/19  
A little environmental etiquette goes a long way.

You’re Likely Inhaling 11 Tiny Bits of Plastic Per Hour

By Erica Cirino  Photo: Erica Cirino   06/17/19  
Pulling on a white cotton lab coat, researcher Alvise Vianello stepped into a stark white room filled with whizzing machines. The contraptions were analyzing foreign materials found in soil, drinking water, the oceans, wastewater, and…

Plastic Has A Big Carbon Footprint — But That Isn’t The Whole Story

By Christopher Joyce   06/09/19  
Plastic waste gets a lot of attention when photos of dead whales with stomachs full of plastic bags hit the news. Pieces of plastic also litter cities, and tiny plastic particles are even floating in…

Your Poop is Probably Full of Plastic

By Robbie Gonzalez  Photo: Getty Images   10/22/18  
Every minute, a dumptruckful of plastic plops into the world's oceans. That's eight million metric tons every year1. Once waterborne, whatever doesn't wash ashore eventually breaks down into itty bits. The puniest pieces—the ones smaller…

HP Inc. and IKEA Join Initiative to Develop First Global Network of Ocean-Bound Plastics Supply Chains

By Heather Clancy  Photo by Recyclingtoday.com/stock.adobe.com   10/22/18  
HP announces a major ocean-bound plastics sourcing milestone; IKEA advances its 2020 no single-use plastic products commitment.
NPR

Beer, Drinking Water And Fish: Tiny Plastic Is Everywhere

By Christopher Joyce  Photo by Chris Joyce/NPR   08/20/18  
Plastic trash is littering the land and fouling rivers and oceans. But what we can see is only a small fraction of what's out there. Since modern plastic was first mass-produced, 8 billion tons have…

Obesity and diabetes: 2 reasons why we should be worried about the plastics that surround us

By Bruce Blumberg and Raquel Chamorro-Garcia  Photo by Sirikanlaya Khlibngern/Shutterstock.com   08/13/18  
Today, nearly 40 percent of U.S. adults and 21 percent of youth are obese. This trend is on the upswing and the worldwide population is becoming more obese – which is increasing the risk of…