Ocean plastic is on track to triple by 2040

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But there is a path to stopping it. Plastic pollution in the ocean is on track to get a lot worse: In two decades, if business continues as usual, there will be nearly three times as much plastic waste leaking into the ocean every year, according to a new analysis. By 2040, since the existing plastic in the ocean isn’t degrading, there could be a cumulative total of 600 million tons of plastic in the water. But solutions exist now to eliminate the vast majority of the new waste. Read Full Story

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How much plastic Amazon packaging is ending up in the ocean?

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The world’s largest retailer is partially responsible for a pandemic-inspired surge in ocean plastic. A new report tries to estimate how much. As online shopping has surged during the pandemic, it’s also driving up the amount of plastic packaging that’s ending up in landfills—or escaping into the ocean. Because it’s the world’s largest retailer, Amazon is likely responsible for some significant percentage of that increase. But despite the company’s very public push for sustainability, it won’t disclose its plastic footprint. Instead, a new report from the nonprofit Oceana tries to estimate how much plastic waste the company is creating. Read Full Story

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Can ocean plastic cleaning projects actually clean all the ocean plastic?

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A new study finds that the volume of plastic flowing into the ocean will overwhelm any cleaning efforts. If we want to clean up ocean plastic, we need to start at the source. Our oceans have a plastic problem, and relying on tech that aims to collect plastic debris from the ocean’s surface won’t be enough to solve it, according to a new study. With the mass amounts of plastic that get funneled into our oceans from land—between 5 and 13 million tonnes annually—ocean clean-up technologies fall short, and can never catch up. The only way to truly reduce the amount of plastic in the ocean, researchers say, is to stop it from getting there in the first place. Read Full Story

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The U.S. is one of the world’s worst ocean plastic polluters

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Though the U.S. made up around 4% of the global population in 2016, it produced 17% of the world’s plastic waste. Americans may have a distorted view about what happens to the incredible amount of plastic we use. Despite decades of discussion about the importance of recycling, only around half of Americans can leave their recyclables at the curb with the garbage. And even when old plastic bottles or packages do end up in recycling bins, they often aren’t recycled (though glass and aluminum are). Instead, they end up being shipped to other countries that don’t have adequate recycling infrastructure to handle the waste. Because of this, a new study calculates that the U.S. is one of the world’s largest contributors to ocean plastic pollution, ranking just behind Indonesia and India. Read Full Story

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Garbage has never looked as cool as these Pacific Garbage Patch sunglasses

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The first product to come from the Ocean Cleanup’s efforts to remove plastic from the ocean are these Yves Behar-designed shades. Late in 2019, the Ocean Cleanup crew returned from the Great Pacific Garbage Patch with its first load of plastic waste harvested from the ocean during a pilot test of its trash-fighting technology , proving that it could skim plastic off the surface of the water. But then came the next hurdle in the company’s yearslong quest to prove its effectiveness: how to recycle that plastic so it didn’t become waste again. Read Full Story

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Masks, gloves, and other coronavirus waste are starting to fill up our oceans

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The key to preventing coronavirus waste threatening the oceans may be to discourage the use of disposable masks and other single-use PPE. It’s not news that our trash eventually finds its way to the ocean. Because oceans are downstream, litter will eventually find a pathway into our bodies of water if it’s not discarded properly—and often even if it is. But as the COVID-19 crisis slowly generates a new kind of waste, made up of disposable masks and other PPE items, it’s posing new problems for the Earth’s oceans. The flood of PPE could cause immediate danger to wildlife, and long-term plastic pollution that threatens to contaminate food supplies. Read Full Story

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How can we better dispose of PPE so it doesn’t keep polluting our oceans?

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Six months after the Ocean Conservancy added a PPE category to its waste collection app, beach cleaners said they collected 107,219 such items. It’s another sad reality of the COVID-19 era that some of the steps we’re taking to stay safe and combat the coronavirus spread are often in opposition to hard-fought efforts to curb the use of plastics for a cleaner planet. Early in the pandemic, as the use of reusable items was scaled back for fear of the virus spreading via objects, planned plastic bag bans were rolled back or postponed across the country. What’s more, an entirely new form of plastic pollution has surged—waste from PPE, or personal protective equipment—and we’re just starting to understand its impact. Read Full Story

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Adidas’s wild new shoe is string art for your feet

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Yes, robots are involved. Every year, Adidas introduces an experimental new shoe technology dubbed “Futurecraft.” These aren’t just bouncier foams or sneakers loaded with fitness tracking inside. They fundamentally reimagine how performance footwear is made—from creating shoes from ocean plastic , to 3D-printing midsoles , to building “Loop” shoes that can be ground up, melted, and made into brand-new shoes when you’re done wearing them. Read Full Story

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Pepsi, Nestlé, and Bacardi are all using this new plastic-like packaging that’s compostable anywhere

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The plastic is made by bacteria and will break down in your home compost bin, a landfill, or even the ocean. A new bottle in development for Bacardi looks like ordinary plastic. But if it ends up in a landfill or the ocean—or a backyard compost bin—the material will completely biodegrade. Called PHA, or polyhydroxyalkanoate, the plant-based material will soon start showing up in all kinds of packaging on store shelves. Read Full Story

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This machine injects plastic into your skin to fight waste

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Forget recycling bins. Ink that plastic on your body instead! People are increasingly made of plastic. The material from our discarded water bottles gets ground up into microparticles, which end up everywhere in the environment. Our oceans alone have an estimated 150 million tons of plastic in them. We then nosh on 50,000 of these pieces of plastic a year, which have been discovered taking up residence in our livers, kidneys, and lungs. It’s sickening to consider, and we still don’t understand the long-term health ramifications. Read Full Story

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These hungry superworms happily munch through plastic

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A superworm can eat about eight times more than other plastic-ingesting insects. Recycling seems like a simple cure for our plastic addiction: Just take the plastic we have and make it into new items. But problems abound. Current technology mostly creates plastic of a lower quality than it was before, many types of plastic aren’t recyclable at all, and much of the plastic is floating in the ocean, not even in the recycling stream. So it’s vital that we find new ways to break down plastic, and scientists have just discovered one: a superworm that can eat about eight times more than other plastic-ingesting insects like mealworms. Read Full Story

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