A blog set out to explore, archive & relate plastic pollution happening world-wide, while learning about on-going efforts and solutions to help break free of our addiction to single-use plastics & sharing this awareness with a community of clean water lovers everywhere!

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Cleanup Nets 50 Tons of Ocean Trash Near Hawaii

Published in Courthouse News, April 17, 2017 by Nicholas Fillmore

Marine debris being loaded into cargo containers at Midway Atoll. (Holly Richards/USFWS)

HONOLULU (CN) – Federal agencies and the state of Hawaii removed 50 tons of garbage from the newly expanded Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument this month during an annual multi-agency cleanup.

Twelve shipping containers holding an estimated 100,000 pounds of derelict fishing gear, bottles, lighters and plastics were loaded onto the charter vessel Kahana and shipped to Honolulu. The garbage will be cut up and incinerated for electricity at the Covanta Honolulu/H-POWER plant.

The annual cleanup of the Northwest Hawaiian Islands is headed by the National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration’s Pacific Island Marine Debris Program in partnership with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Hawaii’s Division of Land and Natural Resources-Forestry and Wildlife division, and the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument.

Since the program began in 1996, some 985 tons of debris have been removed from the monument. At Midway and Kure atolls, plastic debris is found in albatross nests along the beach and often consumed by the chicks. Endangered green sea turtles also mistake plastic for their main food source, jellyfish. And marine mammals die after becoming entangled in discarded fishing gear.

According to regional coordinator Mark Manuel, removal efforts are accomplished “with two hands and lots of backs.” Barges carrying heavy machinery cannot be brought in because their drafts are too deep in the shallows, so 17-19 foot inflatables are used and abandoned fishing nets – often twined around coral heads – are hauled up by hand.

Purse-seine nets found in Papahanaumokuakea do not appear to be local, Manuel said, nor does much of the trash cleared. Weather events associated with El Nino tend to push the North Pacific gyre – an area formed by four prevailing ocean currents in which garbage from across the Pacific collects – south. The gyre then deposits debris along the 1,500-mile Northwest Hawaiian Island chain which, virtually pristine otherwise, acts to comb detritus out of the ocean.

Researcher Capt. Charles Moore first discovered the so-called “Great Pacific Garbage Patch” in 1999, when he sailed his catamaran through the rarely traveled gyre.

“As I gazed from the deck at the surface of what ought to have been a pristine ocean, I was confronted, as far as the eye could see, with the sight of plastic,” Moore wrote in an essay for Natural History. “It seemed unbelievable, but I never found a clear spot.”

Plastic takes centuries to biodegrade, breaking down into smaller pieces along the way. These fragments easily find their way into the food chain, Moore said, “adding to the increasing amount of synthetic chemicals unknown before 1950 that we now carry in our bodies.”

Research also implicates plastic in mammalian endocrine disruption. The resulting “feminization” of animal species threatens population collapse.

Complicating the picture, according to Moore – whose Algalita Organization is a pioneer in the study of ocean plastic – is the discovery of pre-manufacture microscopic plastic beads called “nurdles” in the water, suggesting that the problem is not just a post-consumption phenomenon.

The NOAA Marine Debris Program has led efforts to research, prevent and reduce the impacts of marine debris. Authorized by Congress through the Marine Debris Act in 2006, its staff supports projects “in partnership with state and local agencies, tribes, non-governmental organizations, academia, and industry. The program also spearheads national research efforts and works to change behavior in the public through outreach and education initiatives.”

The Hawaii Nets to Energy Program is one example of that partnership.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Will Consumers Pay More for Recycled Ocean Plastic?

Published in the Environmental Leader - March 23, 2017 by Jessica Lyons Hardcastle 

beach plastics

In a move that could increase consumer awareness about marine plastic pollution — and thus, consumer willingness to pay more for products made from recycled marine plastic — recycling company TerraCycle plans to expand its beach cleanup programs to collect up to 1,000 tons of plastic waste globally.

Earlier this year TerraCycle, in partnership with Procter & Gamble and Suez, developed the world’s first recyclable shampoo bottle made from up to 25 percent recycled beach plastic. The Head & Shoulders shampoo bottle will debut in France this summer.

TerraCycle told Plastics News that the partners have major expansion plans.

The initial beach cleanups collected 15 tons of material in Europe; Brett Stevens, vice president of material sales and procurement at the recycling company, told the publication that the company plans to expand collection efforts to North America and Asia.

“The collection goals we’ve set forth in total approach I would say probably 500 to 1,000 tons coming off beaches over the next 12 months,” Stevens said. “It is very much not a fad. I think that we’re investing the staff and resources and building our programs with our partners, making this a long-lasting impact.”

TerraCycle’s statements come as other leading companies are turning their attention to plastic waste ending up in oceans and other waterways.

Last month Dell said it has developed the technology industry’s first packaging trays made with 25 percent recycled ocean plastic content. In January, Unilever CEO Paul Polman called on the consumer goods industry to address ocean plastic waste and employ circular economy models to increase plastic recycling rates. Adidas is also working to solve the problem of plastic pollution in oceans by turning this waste stream into new material for its shoes.

But as environmental groups like Greenpeace and circular economy advocates like the Ellen MacArthur Foundation have shown in recent reports, more needs to be done. According to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, one-third of the plastic packaging used globally ends up in oceans and other fragile ecosystems. An earlier study by the foundation found there could be more plastics than fish in the ocean by 2050.

However, as Waste Dive reports, the cost associated with collecting and cleaning marine plastic for reuse in products and packaging means virgin material is cheaper. “A coordinated global campaign that can demonstrate the path from cleaning beaches to putting new products on store shelves might help drive consumer interest in paying a little more for packaging made from this content.”

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Film Looks at Plastics in the Oceans

Published in VOA Science and Health on March 20, 2017

Plastic sludge and garbage, a blight on the world’s oceans.

Eight million metric tons of plastic wind up each year in the oceans, harming marine life and entering the food chain.

A film crew traveled the globe to document the rubbish, producing a new documentary film called A Plastic Ocean that looks at the problem, and its solutions.

Julie Andersen of the Plastic Oceans Foundation said what is seen is just the tip of the problem.

“Half of the waste actually sinks to the bottom, some plastic sinks to the bottom, and what remains on the surface actually breaks down," Andersen said.

The filmmakers found trash in ocean gyres, the circulating currents that trap large concentrations of pollution in the Atlantic, Indian, and Pacific Oceans, home of what some have called a plastic island.

“What we found in the center of the Pacific was not a floating island of plastic. What we found was a plastic smog that permeated all the water," Andersen said.

The debris infects the food chain, sometimes visibly, and more so at the microscopic level, where the plastic particles interact with other pollutants.

Adam Leipzig, producer of A Plastic Ocean, said, “Heavy metals, pharmaceuticals, industrial runoff. It acts like magnets. These toxins hitchhike on the plastic, and when seafood ingests the plastics, those toxins offload into the fatty tissues.”

Those fish are then consumed by other sea life and by people.

China, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam are the worst plastic polluters. The United States, although a leader in recycling, is in the top 20, since it produces and consumes so much plastic.

There are efforts around the world to address the problem, including at this newly opened recycling center in Lebanon.

But Andersen said there is more people can do.

“Cut back on single-use plastics, straws, plastic cups, plastic water bottles, plastic bags and find alternatives like reusable materials," she said.

She said healthy oceans are essential to our survival.

Friday, September 30, 2016

Award-nominated film finds its facts from Brunel

published Sept. 29 by Brunel University in London 

Marine litter
An eye-popping film about plastic pollution featuring environmental science pioneered at Brunel is up for a leading industry award.
A Plastic Ocean is up for best documentary at this week’s Raindance Film Festival. It tells the insidious tale of the millions of tonnes of plastic litter turning the world’s seas into a toxic plastic soup.
In it, Ecotoxicology Professor Susan Jobling, explains the hormone-disrupting effects of chemicals linked to plastic pollution. Professor Jobling, Director of Brunel’s Institute of Environment, Health and Societies appears alongside other leading scientists and Sir David Attenborough.
“It is quite powerful. Shocking even in places,” said researcher Dr Christopher Green, one of the Brunel team of scientific advisors.
A Plastic Ocean is produced by BBC Blue Planet producer, Jo Ruxton and told though the eyes of journalist Craig Leeson and free diver, Tanya Streeter. It shows how plastic marine litter harms wildlife, the environment, and potentially human health. A South Pacific islander tells how the pools she swam and fished as a child are contaminated by plastic waste, saying it has ‘destroyed our paradise’.
Brunel got on board as scientific advisors when the team asked Professor Jobling to talk about endocrine disruption and how chemicals associated with plastic can affect the hormone system. In the early 90s, Professor Jobling was one of the first researchers to show chemicals in plastics can mimic the female sex hormones, oestrogens. In the film, she explains how these chemicals can interfere with reproduction and development and their links to hormone related diseases. “Endocrine disruption in aquatic wildlife was pioneered here at Brunel,” Dr Green explained.
Dead seabirds Image Plastic Oceans Foundation
An alarming statistic is that 90 per cent of seabirds are likely to have swallowed plastic. Without intervention, by 2050, 99% of sea bird species will have consumed plastic.
"I hope it will make people really think about how they use plastics and make them wonder for example if they really need a plastic drinking straw or a single use plastic bottle. I hope it starts to resonate with manufacturers, with industry and government and drives a wave of change towards a more sustainable future. Whatever happens, Brunel will be part of that change, through our innovative multi-disciplinary research."
Professor Jobling, who is researching public attitudes and understanding of plastic pollution with Brunel media sociologist, Lesley Henderson is calling for research into recycling and re-use of plastics. “Only 14% of plastic packaging is collected for recycling,” she said. “We need a new future for plastic."
• The Raindance Film Festival winners will be announced on September 30. Find out about Brunel’s Institute of Environment, Health and Societies here.  Learn more from Plastic Oceans Foundation. Images courtesy of Plastic Oceans Foundation.

Monday, August 1, 2016

Florida brewery creates edible six-pack rings to protect marine wildlife

Published in The Growler on May 16, 2016
Screen Shot from Saltwater Brewerys Youtube video
Screen Shot from Saltwater Brewerys Youtube video
Screenshot from Saltwater Brewery’s Youtube video
Florida has a special connection to the ocean.
The state is home to the Florida Reef, the third largest living coral reef in the world and the only one found in the continental United States. Many of its professional sports teams are aquatic themed (Miami Marlins, Tampa Bay Rays, Miami Dolphins, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, for example).
So it’s no wonder that a Florida craft brewery in Delray Beach was the one to come up with an edible six-pack ring to help save marine life from being entangled or ingesting in plastic debris.
Saltwater Brewery and We Believers—an advertising agency in New York—developed the durable packaging solution for six-packs from spent grain from the brewing process. The resulting product is claimed to be not only biodegradable, but also edible for fish and other sea life.

Friday, July 29, 2016

Ocean Clean up deploys first prototype aimed at clearing Great Pacific Garbage Patch in 2020

Published in ABC.net on July 5, 2016 by Pacific Beat
As scientists look to find a way to rid the infamous Great Pacific Garbage Patch of thousands of tonnes of waste plastic, a prototype ocean cleaning system has been deployed in the North Sea off the coast of the Netherlands.

Key points:

  • The Ocean Cleanup system collects plastic by acting as an "artificial coastline"
  • A full scale deployment is expected in the Pacific in 2020
  • The Dutch government co-funded the $2.2-million prototype
  • Private companies are expressing interest to buy the collected plastic
Developed by the Dutch foundation, the 100-metre-long barrier prototype — known as the Ocean Cleanup system — is powered by the ocean's currents and acts as an artificial coastline that can catch and concentrate debris in water.
The team behind Ocean Cleanup aims to achieve "the largest clean-up in history" when the nearly 100-kilometre full system is deployed in the Pacific in 2020.
Media player: "Space" to play, "M" to mute, "left" and "right" to seek.
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AUDIO: Listen to the interview with founder Boyan Slat.(Pacific Beat)
But compared to previous efforts and technologies aimed at cleaning up the Pacific patch, Ocean Cleanup founder Boyan Slat said the new system differed in that it allowed "the natural ocean currents to do the hard work".
"Instead of going after the plastic, we propose to deploy a very long array of long floating barriers, which are attached to the sea bed, and will allow the natural ocean currents to do the hard work for us," Mr Slat told the ABC's Pacific Beat program.
The Ocean Cleanup system collects plastic by allowing the ocean's currents to move through it, rather than deploying vessels to scour the oceans.
"Basically it acts as an artificial coastline where there is no coastline," Mr Slat said.
But for now, the purpose of the prototype is not to clean plastic from the ocean, but to use the North Sea's rough currents to ensure the system can survive for years out in the Pacific.
"The objective of this test is to see whether we can build something which is able to survive at sea for years," Mr Slat said.
"Right now what we see from the data is that it's still there, in one piece, and we've actually had some rough seas, so it's promising.
"But the whole reason to test is not to prove ourselves right but to look for the things that don't work."

Private companies interested to buy plastic

To date the project had mostly been financed through crowdfunding and donations, but for the 1.5-million-euro ($2.23-million) prototype, the Dutch Government came on board to co-fund the project.
Mr Slat said there had been increasing demand from private companies to buy the collected plastic.
"Part of our resources are currently dedicated to researching the recycling possibilities of the material we would retrieve from the ocean," Mr Slat said.
"And what we see is that the quality of the plastic is really high … and there are also a lot of companies now showing interest in buying up that plastic once we've taken it out of the ocean.
"Our hope is that once the technology is proven, we should be able to cut the clean-up costs, at least by using the revenue generated by selling this ocean plastic to make it into new products."
Mr Slat said the offers from companies to buy up the collected plastic demonstrated just how much plastic was believed to be out there.
"I think about a year ago some people told us there were 100,000 tonnes of plastic out there, while others have said 100 million tonnes out there, so it's quite a lot, but the uncertainty is even bigger," Mr Slat said.
"So what we then did in August last year, is cross the garbage patch with 30 boats at the same time to really take more measurements, and what we found is that there is actually a lot more plastic than people thought was out there."
Mr Slat said that was because his team did not only measure the extremely dangerous micro-plastics, as is often done, but the larger pieces as well.
"What we found is that most of the mass is in those big objects, which is obviously very relevant, because all those big pieces will crumble down into those dangerous micro-plastic over the next few decades if we don't do anything about it," he said.
"So if we don't clean it up, micro-plastics could potentially increase to up to almost 50-fold."

Here's another great post from Tech Insider about the Ocean Cleanup prototype:  http://www.techinsider.io/ocean-cleanup-floating-garbage-collector-2016-7

RIO OLYMPICS 2016: Aquatic Athletes advised to keep their mouths shut as they will ‘Literally be swimming in human crap’

Published in the Inquisitr July 28, 2016 by Tim Butters

Aquatic athletes competing in the forthcoming Rio Olympics have been advised to keep their mouths shut while competing because they will “literally be swimming in human crap” and could pick up heavy duty illnesses from the contaminated water.

Swimming and sailing in toxic filth is a far cry from the Olympic ideal but according to health experts, the raw sewage, household debris, and even the occasional bloated corpse which can be found infecting the waters of Rio’s Guanabara Bay and Copacabana Beach, will all combine to create a potentially deadly brew for the hearty Olympic athletes who are chasing greatness and aiming for glory at the 2016 Summer Games.

The Sydney Morning Herald reports that marathon swimmers, sailors, and windsurfers who will be participating in events held at Guanabara Bay, where a bloated corpse was found floating recently, should take extra care because the polluted water is apparently a lot more contaminated than previously thought.

Ahead of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, the Brazilian government promised to eradicate over 80 percent of the pollution and waste from the bay. They have now admitted their clean-up goals won’t be met in time for the Games, and competitors will just have to do their best among the flotsam, jetsam, and pure unadulterated filth.

Rio Olympics
Rio Olympics
Something smells rather fishy about the Rio Olympics! (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

In an age when desperate whales choking on plastic bags are approaching random deep sea fisherman for help, the state of the world’s oceans has never been more dire.

A recent report by the Inquisitr claims our world is drowning in plastic, and our oceans are toxic.

Charles J. Moore, a U.S. merchant marine captain and founder of the Algalita Marine Research Institute in Long Beach, California, said he’s utterly shocked at the huge increase in plastic litter found floating on the ocean’s surface in the past five years.

“Plastic is choking our future in ways that most of us are barely aware.”
In just three days, Captain Moore and his team estimated that the urban hubs of Southern California were responsible for polluting the sea with 2.3 billion pieces of plastic.

Garbage patches of floating plastic comprised of everything from shampoo bottles and toothbrushes to cigarette lighters and tires lie accusing and apathetic in the remote Pacific.

Passing seabirds often mistake these brightly colored objects for squid or fish. Weighed down with plastic fragments, the birds then return to their nests and unwittingly feed the plastic to their young.

Their stomachs are bursting with the toxic material, and they are unable to ingest any real food.

Skeletal remains of dead chicks lie scattered on remote islands, and where their stomachs should be lies nothing but a tangled mass of plastic. The extent of the plastic pollution cannot be over-estimated.

Science writer Gaia Vince has estimated that every square kilometer of the world’s oceans now contains an average of 18,500 pieces of plastic, and that’s before you add all the other putrid filth and raw sewage into the equation that awaits Olympic hopefuls at Rio.

Rio’s Copacabana Beach at the mouth of Guanabara Bay, which will host many swimming events, is thought to be a particularly polluted place, and the bay is actually more contaminated than environmentalists and scientists previously thought.

One Brazilian doctor named Daniel Becker has refused to pull any punches and warned Olympic marathon swimmers to take a deep breath because they will “literally be swimming in human crap.”

“Foreign athletes will literally be swimming in human crap, and they risk getting sick from all those microorganisms.”

Dutch sailing team member Afrodite took a pragmatic approach to the grim warnings and said, “We just have to keep our mouths closed when the water sprays up.”

The coach of the Spanish woman’s sailing team, Nigel Cochrane, said he was very concerned about warnings of “super bacteria” in the waters of Rio, and he has called the state of affairs “disgusting.”

Australian gold medalist sailors Mat Belcher and Will Ryan have had plenty of experience of Guanabara Bay, and none of it’s been too pleasant.

“There’s all sorts of rubbish – dead animals, furniture, plastic bags, a lot of coke cans. It’s not ideal.”


Come on in! The water is lovely. (Photo by Buda Mendes/Getty Images)

Read more at http://www.inquisitr.com/3357296/rio-olympics-2016-aquatic-athletes-advised-to-keep-their-mouths-shut-as-they-will-literally-be-swimming-in-human-crap/#1OX3Daf8548v9H4b.99