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 like an incomprehensible quantity, it is. Even the scientists who set out to conduct the world’s first tally of how much plastic has been produced, discarded, burned or put in landfills, were horrified by the sheer size of the numbers.

“We all knew there was a rapid and extreme increase in plastic production from 1950 until now, but actually quantifying the cumulative number for all plastic ever made was quite shocking,” says Jenna Jambeck, a University of Georgia environmental engineer who specializes in studying plastic waste in the oceans.

“This kind of increase would ‘break’ any system that was not prepared for it, and this is why we have seen leakage from global waste systems into the oceans,” she says.

Plastic takes more than 400 years to degrade, so most of it still exists in some form. Only 12 percent has been incinerated.

— source nationalgeographic.org

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The plastics you throw away are poisoning the world’s eggs and World’s Poor eating that

Eggs eaten by some of the world’s poorest people are being poisoned by plastic waste from rich countries like Canada and the U.S., new research has found.

A suite of harmful chemicals are added to plastic and food packaging to give them desirable traits, like grease resistance or flexibility. When they burn or break down, these chemicals contaminate the surrounding environment and animals living or feeding nearby.

Chickens can absorb the chemicals by drinking contaminated water or eating contaminated worms and insects. Eggs are particularly sensitive to containing toxic chemicals and are commonly consumed by people, according to the report produced by the International Pollutant Elimination Network (IPEN), a global coalition of environmental organizations.

The problem is most acute for people in low- and middle-income countries at the receiving end of the multibillion-dollar global trade in plastic and electronic waste. According to the recent study, which was not peer-reviewed, people eating free-range eggs raised near 25 plastic waste dumps and recycling centres in 14 low- and middle-income countries

— source nationalobserver.com | Marc Fawcett-Atkinson | Jun 22 2021

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How plastics are making us infertile

Climate change is rightly cited as an environmental crisis that could lead to human extinction. Yet there is another pollution issue, indirectly related, that could make it literally impossible for human beings to reproduce.

I am talking, of course, about plastic pollution.

Dr. Shanna Swan, a professor of environmental medicine and public health at Mount Sinai school of medicine in New York City, has a new book out called “Count Down: How Our Modern World Is Threatening Sperm Counts, Altering Male and Female Reproductive Development, and Imperiling the Future of the Human Race.” In it she describes how various chemicals commonly found in plastic products are leading to a decline in fertility. The most striking example of this is in dropping sperm counts; if you have fewer than 15 million sperm per milliliter of semen, you are considered to have a low sperm count. Human beings are rapidly reaching that point, as Swan demonstrates in her book.

Salon spoke with her about this issue over the phone; as always, this interview has been edited for length and clarity.

What is the thesis of your book?

The thesis of my book is that reproductive health in men and women has been declining dramatically at least over the past 40 years, and that a major part of that decline is linked to everyday exposure to chemicals in the environment that can affect our hormone system. There’s a lot in there and we can spread that all out, but that’s the overall

— source salon.com | Matthew Rozsa | Apr 4, 2021

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The US only recycled about 5% of plastic waste last year

By now, many of us have heard the depressing statistic about plastic recycling: Of the 5.8 billion metric tons of plastic waste that the world generated between 1950 and 2015, only about 9 percent has been recycled, leaving the rest to be incinerated, landfilled, or littered directly into the environment.

Until recently, that number was still accurate for the United States, which — according to the most recent data from the Environmental Protection Agency, or EPA — recycled about 8.7 percent of its plastic refuse in 2018. But a new report from the nonprofit The Last Beach Cleanup and the advocacy group Beyond Plastics finds that the U.S.’s plastic recycling rate is now significantly lower, with just 5 or 6 percent of the country’s plastic waste converted into new products in 2021.

— source grist.org | May 04, 2022

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Microplastics detected in fish samples from Cauvery

A new study by researchers at the Bengaluru-based Indian Institute of Science (IISc) has found microplastics in fish, causing growth defects, including skeletal deformities, in River Cauvery in south India. The study was conducted at the Krishnaraja Sagar dam, located below the confluence of river Cauvery with its tributaries Hemavati and Lakshmana Tirtha, in the Mandya district of Karnataka. The researchers collected water samples from three different locations with varying water flow speeds – fast-flowing, slow-flowing and stagnant – since water speed is known to affect the concentration of pollutants.

— source downtoearth.org.in | 12 Apr 2022

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Rich countries are illegally exporting plastic trash to poor countries

At the beginning of last year, 187 countries took steps to limit the export of plastic trash from wealthy to developing countries. It’s not working as well as they hoped. According to an analysis of global trade data by the nonprofit Basel Action Network, or BAN, violations of a U.N. agreement regulating the international plastic waste trade have been “rampant” over the past year. Since January 1, 2021, when new new rules were supposed to begin clamping down on countries that ship their plastic refuse abroad, the U.S., Canada, and the European Union have offloaded hundreds of millions of tons of plastic to other countries, where much of it may be landfilled, burned, or littered into the environment.

The regulations in question are part of the Basel Convention, a framework designed to control the international movement of waste that is designated “hazardous.” In the years after it was first adopted in 1989, the convention covered substances such as mercury and pesticides. But in 2019, signatories to the convention agreed to add new guidance for

— source grist.org | Apr 15, 2022

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COVID-19 Has Worsened the Ocean Plastic Pollution Problem

Eight million metric tons of plastic waste enter the oceans every year. This equates to one garbage truck’s worth of plastic being dumped into our oceans every minute. This is tragic for many reasons. Whales, fish, seabirds, turtles and many other animals are eating the plastic and dying en masse. This, of course, was all pre-COVID-19. COVID-19 triggered an estimated global use of 129 billion face masks and 65 billion gloves every month.

— source scientificamerican.com | Aug 17, 2020

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