One liter of water from the Mariana Trench contains thousands of tiny plastic pieces, according to new research.
LIKE THE FOOD particles that clump together in the middle of a kitchen sink, plastic debris is gathering in the deepest reaches of the ocean.
A new study published in Geochemical Perspectives found evidence of microplastic (plastic smaller than five millimeters) gathering in large quantities in the deepest parts of the oceans, and that could account for “missing” plastic that has stumped scientists to date.
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Democratic lawmakers in Washington state said Wednesday that they plan to pursue legislation to ban single-use plastic bags, like the ones used in grocery and retail stores. The measure would eliminate all plastic bags used for purchases and levy a 10-cent fee on paper bags, backers of the bill — Sen. Kevin Ranker, D-Orcas Island, and Rep. Strom Peterson, D-Edmonds — announced in Seattle on Wednesday. They plan to introduce their bill in the Legislature’s next session that starts in January. The bill’s passage in Washington, where Democrats control both chambers of the Legislature as well as the governorship, would make the state second in the U.S., after California, to impose a statewide ban on single-use plastic bags. State politicians regularly boast of having some of the strictest environmental regulations in the nation, but they’ve also been criticized by environmental groups for not doing enough. Hannah Rodriguez reports. (Seattle Times) See also: State lawmakers want to ban plastic bags Alison Morrow reports. (KING)
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The world's use of plastic is costing us, and our oceans, a high price.
But thanks to scientists at the University of Swansea, there might be one solution to the waste that kills thousands of sea creatures every year.
The new research, led by Dr. Moritz Kuehnel, would see plastic waste turned into hydrogen. If we're lucky, that could one day be used to fuel hydrogen cars.
"There's a lot of plastic used every year -- billions of tonnes -- and only a fraction of it is being recycled," Dr. Kuehnel told the BBC. "We are trying to find a use for what is not being recycled."
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An enzyme that breaks down a common plastic that pollutes the oceans has been engineered by scientists.
The discovery could reduce from centuries to days the time that it takes for plastic to decompose, making the material truly recyclable.
One of the most common plastics is polyethylene terephthalate (PET), which can be recycled into items such as clothes and carpets that can then themselves be recycled. At each stage the material is degraded until it is useless and ends up as waste.
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I just read this very interesting article about seabirds eating plastic debris in the Ocean. It has been known for awhile that seabirds consume plastic debris because they are often found on remote beaches dead with guts full of plastic. What was unknown until recently is why. The article below describes the process but here it in a nutshell: basically the plastic is made out of petroleum and acts like oil full of fat molecules or lipids and absorbs other fatty things in the ocean, termed “lipophilic” or likes fats, like algae and persistent organic pollutants (POPs) or PCBs, PBDE (flame retardants ), DDT and DDE. So the floating plastic debris is thought to be attractive to sea birds because it absorbs floating algae on its surface which is full of plant based proteins and fats which is what the ocean going sea birds like albatross and petrels have evolved to eat. The floating plastic debris acts like an algae sponge as well as a POP sponge and actually smells like algae stimulating the birds to eat a piece of plastic that is harmful not only because it is hard and indigestible causing a blocking but is also chuck full of pollutants. The end results is a bird full of plastic debris instead of food and causing the bird to become sick and die an early death. This is a huge problem and one that OGP is committed towards solving.
Ocean Garbage Patch is a 501c3 non-profit corporation formed in 2012 by Scott McKinnon and Shawn Larson, siblings that came to the same conclusion at the same time: Plastic pollution is a huge problem in the oceans and we want to do something about it. The goal of Ocean Garbage Patch is to bring awareness to the problem of floating plastic debris in the oceans through action. Our strategy is through action to have a continuous presence in the North Pacific actively removing plastic debris from the ocean. Through these activities we hope to bring awareness to the problem and support scientific research on the breadth and scope of floating plastic debris. Recently an article was published in PlosOne: e111913. doi:10.1371/ journal.pone.0111913. The authors estimated that there is 5.25 trillion particles weighing 268,940 tons of plastic floating debris throughout the world’s oceans. This estimate was based on 6 years of data (2007-2013) gathered during 24 expeditions and is equally distributed between the northern and southern oceans. The authors acknowledge this is just a snapshot of what is actually out there and is likely an underestimate of the problem. Today Ocean Garbage Patch launches its website and its work towards cleaning up the trillions of particles of plastic debris in our oceans. The oceans health depends on the removal of this trash and since we depend on the health of the oceans our own health depends on it as well.