Accurate, Focused Research on Law, Technology and Knowledge Discovery Since 2002

Economist – The known unknowns of plastic pollution

The Economist “…of the 6.3bn tonnes of plastic waste produced since the 1950s only 9% has been recycled and another 12% incinerated. The rest has been dumped in landfills or the natural environment. Often, as with disposable coffee cups, drinks bottles, sweet wrappers and other packets that account for much of the plastic produced in Europe and America, this happens after a brief, one-off indulgence. If the stuff ends up in the sea, it can wash up on a distant beach or choke a seal. Exposed to salt water and ultraviolet light, it can fragment into “microplastics” small enough to find their way into fish bellies. From there, it seems only a short journey to dinner plates. Countries as varied as Bangladesh, France and Rwanda have duly banned plastic bags. Since last year anyone offering them in Kenya risks four years in prison or a fine of up to $40,000. In January China barred imports of plastic waste, while the European Union launched a “plastics strategy”, aiming, among other things, to make all plastic packaging recyclable by 2030 and raise the proportion that is recycled from 30% to 55% over the next seven years. A British levy on plastic shopping bags, introduced in 2015, helped cut use of them by 85%. On February 22nd Britain’s environment secretary, Michael Gove, mused about prohibiting plastic straws altogether. Fearful for their reputations, big companies are shaping up. Coca-Cola has promised to collect and recycle the equivalent of all the drinks containers it shifts each year, including 110bn plastic bottles. Consumer-goods giants such as Unilever and Procter & Gamble vow to use more recycled plastics. McDonald’s plans to make all its packaging from recycled or renewable sources by 2025, up from half today, and wants every one of its restaurants to recycle straws, wrappers, cups and the like…”

See alsoSailing Seas of Plastic: Visualising 268,940 tonnes of plastic floating in the world’s oceans: “An estimated 5.25 trillion plastic particles weighing more than 268,940 tonnes are floating in the world’s oceans, according to a study published in the journal PlosOne and co-authored by dumpark co-founder Laurent Lebreton (now researcher at The Ocean Cleanup). With the goal of turning the science into something everyone could relate to and thus raising awareness about the extent of plastic pollution, we produced the interactive map Sailing Seas of Plastic. In addition to the main study findings, we also wanted to exhibit the measurement data used to calibrate Laurent’s previously developed numerical model and quantify floating, or more precisely buoyant, plastic concentrations in our oceans…”

Sorry, comments are closed for this post.