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!

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Makers of plastic bags gather signatures to overturn ban

Carrying his signature collection of plastic bags, Frank Hatfield, 88, makes his rounds through Chinatown on Tuesday Feb. 2, 2014 in San Francisco, Calif. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli,File)
FILE-This file photo taken Tuesday, Aug. 12, 2014, plastic single-use bags are carried past the State Capitol in Sacramento, Calif. Gov. Jerry Brown has signed legislation on Tuesday, Sept. 30, 2014 imposing the nation's first statewide ban on single-use plastic bags.
Plastics manufacturers and their supporters announced Monday that they have collected enough signatures to put California’s plastic-bag ban up for a vote, a move that would extend the saber-rattling over the landmark law for at least another year.

Opponents of the law banning single-use plastic bags — which is supposed to go into effect July 1 — collected more than 800,000 signatures when they needed only 504,760 to qualify for a referendum, according to representatives of the trade group American Progressive Bag Alliance.

“The industry obviously is opposed to this particular piece of legislation because it seeks to ban a 100 percent recyclable product and also put fees on consumers for other bag alternatives,” said Jon Berrier, spokesman for the Progressive Bag Alliance. “It’s all orchestrated as a cash grab by members of the California Grocers Association to scam California consumers out of billions of dollars in bag fees, none of which goes to a public purpose.”
Ron Fong, the president and chief executive officer of the California Grocers Association, called the allegations of a cash grab a “tired argument” that plastic bag industry executives keep trying to recycle.

The law, SB270, “clearly states that any monies generated by the sale of paper bags must go toward cost recovery, training and educating the public on reusable bags,” Fong said, adding that there have been 90 percent reductions in the distribution of single-use bags in cities where similar ordinances have been passed. “The state Legislature didn’t buy this desperate argument and neither do Californians.”

The petitions, submitted on the last day of a 90-day signature-gathering deadline, must be checked against the list of registered voters in each county where they were collected before the referendum can be verified. If it qualifies, an outcome many observers believe is inevitable, implementation of the law would be delayed until after the referendum in November 2016.

“They are basically buying themselves a 15-month postponement,” said Mark Murray, executive director of Californians Against Waste and the bag-ban campaign treasurer. “Honestly, it’s frustrating that California’s electoral process can be hijacked by out-of-state plastic-bag manufacturers.”

The postponement only affects areas of the state where there aren’t already plastic bag bans, Murray said. San Francisco banned plastic bags in 2007, the first city in the nation to do so. There are now plastic bag bans in 130 California cities, including all of Marin, Alameda, San Mateo and Santa Clara counties.

The bag backlash has been sweeping across the country mainly because the billion disposable plastic shopping bags a year that are thrown away find their way into storm drains, creeks and rivers that flow into the ocean. Scientists have documented a giant floating patch of plastic and other debris twice the size of Texas that has accumulated in an area of the Pacific Ocean known as the North Pacific Gyre.

The decision by Gov. Jerry Brown to enact the statewide ban, SB270, in September, came after a fierce legislative struggle. Lee Califf, the executive director of the Bag Alliance in Washington, D.C., called SB270, “a terrible piece of job-killing legislation.” The lobbying group has spent $3.1 million to fight the law, most of it from three out-of-state plastics companies led by South Carolina’s Hilex Poly, the largest plastic-bag manufacturer in the country.

The 13 billion plastic bags currently in California grocery stores generate $200 million a year in revenue for the industry, Murray said. The cities that have banned plastic bags generally charge 10 cents per customer for the use of paper or reusable bags, an amount Murray said doesn’t even cover the cost to grocers.

Under the law, grocery stores and pharmacies in California must phase out plastic bags by July, and convenience and liquor stores must get rid of the bags a year later.

“It’s not a scam, and it’s not anything that was orchestrated by the grocers,” Murray said. “This is part of a grassroots movement by hundreds of community organizations that decided it is time to stop using plastic bags.”

He said it is not the first time that out-of-state polluters have attempted to repeal a California environmental law.

“In 2010, out-of-state oil companies, along with the Koch brothers, spent millions on Proposition 23, an initiative that would have suspended AB32, California’s Global Warming Solutions Act,” Murray said. “Voters soundly rejected that effort by polluters, and we are confident that, given the opportunity, voters will reject repeal of the plastic bag ban.”

Peter Fimrite is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. E-mail: pfimrite@sfchronicle.com Twitter: @pfimrite

Monday, December 29, 2014

Proposed ordinance could transform how Columbia residents grocery shop

Published in the Columbia Business Times, Dec. 13, 2014 by Andrew Denney

Marshall Harding collects flyaway bags and other debris at the municipal landfill Monday in Columbia.
Because plastic shopping bags are so widespread, it may not occur to some younger shoppers that plastic bags have only been around since the 1970s, a relatively short amount of time considering how many centuries people have been bringing home purchases.

Mike Heimos, a stormwater educator for the city of Columbia, said he was working as a bag boy in a St. Louis-area Schnucks when the bags were first introduced to his store in the mid-1980s — a time when the supermarket closed on Sundays and employees cleaned out ashtrays affixed to shopping carts.

“I remember the pushback from customers,” Heimos said. “People liked paper.”

Heimos leads the Crawdads, Columbia’s stream team, which enlists the help of hundreds of volunteers each year to tromp not only through local streams, but through wooded areas and along roadways scouring areas for litter.

In 2013, Heimos said, the team recruited 621 volunteers who worked 43 cleanups and collected more than 4,400 pounds of litter from clean-up sites. While the total payload does include some larger items like spent tires, the three largest culprits are drink containers, cigarette butts and plastic bags.

Plastic shopping bags may have been the new thing when Heimos was a teenager, but that changed quickly. Plastic bags rose to ubiquity in supermarkets and shops across the globe, and it’s not hard to figure out why: they’re lightweight, durable and easy to carry.

A shopper returning home from a trip to the grocery store can easily hold several bags in one hand while fumbling for keys with the other. And after the groceries are unloaded, the bags can be reused to line trash cans or pick up pet waste.

Over the last several years communities worldwide have begun to see that the convenience of plastic bags comes with a cost: many of the estimated 500 bags that an average consumer uses each year end up in the landfill or in storm drains, waterways and, eventually, the ocean.

“They end up downstream and they end up entangling wildlife,” said Lawrence Lile, chairman of the city of Columbia’s Environment and Energy Commission, which the Columbia City Council has ordered to review a proposed ordinance to restrict the use of plastic bags in the city.

The draft ordinance currently under the commission’s consideration — which the Osage Group of the Sierra Club presented to the council — would prohibit grocery stores, convenience stores, pharmacies and farmers markets from providing plastic bags to customers. Plastic bags would also be prohibited from distribution at city-sponsored events.

Grocers would still be able to provide bags to prevent produce or cuts of meat from coming into contact with other foods or surfaces. Stores would also be able to offer paper bags but charge 10 cents each — revenue that grocers would be able to hang onto as long as they can furnish receipts to prove that they are charging customers for the bags.

Plastic shopping bags — or “T-shirt” bags — are made of high-density polyethylene, which is produced from oil and natural gas. Plastic bags are not biodegradable, and thus break down into smaller and smaller toxic bits that can contaminate soil or be ingested by wildlife.

According to the U.S. Environment Protection Agency, in 2012, 1.4 billion pounds of bags were thrown into America’s waste stream and about 7 percent of that amount was recycled. They can be recycled to make composite lumber or more bags.

While a partial plastic bag ban may contribute to the better health of local waterways, supporters in Columbia admit that the policy would be no panacea for the larger problem of litter and waste.
Heimos, the city’s stormwater educator, said his stream teams find plenty of other discarded junk that may have had a useful second life.

“When you look at 95 percent of what we collect, it could have been recycled in the first place,” Heimos said.

One intent behind the proposed bag ban, supporters say, is to wean customers off plastic shopping bags and get them to use recyclable or reusable bags. As most already do voluntarily, grocers would be required to offer reusable bags to customers.

Additionally, customers would be allowed to bring their own bags to stores — even the plastic ones that grocers would no longer be allowed to distribute — to carry out their groceries.

Many other types of retailers would be exempt from the ban, including clothiers and gift shops, as would restaurants who give out bags for take-out.

If approved, the ban would not go into effect for one year. After that time, violators would be fined between $100 and $300 per offense. The city’s environmental commission is working on a report for the city council on the proposal, but Lile said there is currently no timeline in place for when they’ll release the report.

Jeanna Glaubitz, who lives near Midway just west of Columbia, had just finished shopping at the West Broadway Gerbes and was loading a bundle of plastic bags into the back of her automobile. She said she reuses her plastic bags and that, while she finds them useful in their second lives as trash-can liners, she could live with a ban on bags in Columbia.

“I would be unnerved by it, but I would find a way,” Glaubitz said.

Blake Maples, a Columbia resident who was heading into Gerbes on Wednesday, said he would support a ban. “Most progressive cities have ended bags, period,” Maples said.

Columbia’s proposal to ban bags while charging a small fee is one of several models communities have used to curtail the use of plastic bags.

This year, California became the first state to enact a statewide ban on plastic bags, though the state took its cue from local communities: more than 100 California municipalities had passed bans of their own.

Under California’s law, which goes into effect in July, customers are charged 10 cents for recyclable paper bags, reusable plastic bags and compostable bags. The law also provides $2 million in competitive loans for companies to businesses seeking to manufacture reusable bags.

Plastics manufacturers are currently funding a referendum petition drive to suspend the law and put the issue before California voters on the November 2016 ballot. Opponents have until Dec. 30 to submit a petition with more than 504,000 signatures.

According to Californians Against Waste, a not-for-profit that advocates for bag bans, 58 cities outside of California will have laws in effect as of April.

Nationwide, groups like the American Chemistry Council, which represent plastics manufacturers, have fought against bans, saying prohibitions would cost manufacturing jobs. The group argues that some cities’ bans disproportionately affect low-income shoppers.

The American Chemistry Council did not respond to a request for comment.

Ken Midkiff, a member of the city commission, said he suggested Columbia’s ban include a provision that would exempt customers who use government assistance programs like Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or the Women, Infants and Children nutrition program from having to pay the 10-cent fee for paper bags.

The city of Columbia’s Solid Waste utility recycles No. 1 and No. 2 plastics, which includes plastic beverage containers, milk jugs, shampoo bottles and detergents. But it does not recycle plastic Nos. 3 through 7, nor does it recycle plastic film like shopping bags and sleeves for newspapers.

The city’s blue recycling bags, like plastic shopping bags and other materials, cannot be recycled at the city’s Material Recovery Facility in northeast Columbia. They are buried in the landfill.

Cynthia Mitchell, manager of the city’s Solid Waste utility, said the blue bags are made of recyclable material, but said they usually can’t be reused because they become contaminated or get glass embedded into them.

But the Material Recovery Facility also has the problem of not having the space to store enough plastic bags to recycle them in a cost-effective way — they are light and airy and the city needs a lot of them to be able to put them out on the market.

“There are a lot of things that could be recycled if we had the space and the funding to sort it and process it,” said Mitchell, who said Solid Waste urges residents to take plastic bags to stores that offer bag recycling.

In a recent afternoon in the 5,000-square-foot recovery facility, material handlers on the ground floor rip open the blue recycling bags distributed to Solid Waste customers and feed the contents onto a conveyer belt that takes the refuse up to a second level. There, a second group of handlers pick out materials that pass muster to be recycled.

Plastic bags are an pervasive presence around the facility; they can be seen poking out of piles of materials or lightly tumbling across the floor.

During a tour, Ken Bates, a supervisor at the facility, surveyed a large pile of newspapers that was destined for Johnson Products/Cell-Pak, which buys the newsprint to make insulation. He plucked a plastic bag out of the pile, saying it could be the “kiss of death” for the company’s machines.

Keeping unusable plastic out of the mix of materials that the facility can sell to buyers, Bates said, “makes our job a lot harder than it has to be.”

Plastic bags are gathered up and taken to the city’s 107-acre landfill just east of the facility to be buried with the rest of the refuse.

On a recent windy day, Adam White, a bioreactor specialist for the Columbia Public Works Department, took a reporter out onto landfill cell No. 5, a 30-foot-tall mound of trash that — like the rest of the landfill — has been shrouded in dirt, except one patch where dirt had been moved aside and bulldozers, a dump truck and a compactor were working to pile in that day’s trash pick-ups.

The work area was bounded by three litter fences, each measuring 12 feet tall and 10 feet wide.The fences — each costing between $3,000 and $5,000 each, White said, and the city’s Solid Waste utility has six of them on hand — are placed around work sites to catch lightweight debris that the heavy machinery and the stiff wind were kicking up from the area.

“We have a lot of challenges with the scattering of litter,” White said. He said that paper, styrofoam and plastic tend to be the materials most likely to evade the screens and fly out of work areas.
From there, the city relies on temp workers to chase down the runaway trash. Leah Christian, a management fellow in City Manager Mike Matthes’ office, said the the city spends about $45,000 annually on the temp workers and it is estimated that about one-third of that amount is devoted to picking up plastic.

Grocery store chains with locations in Columbia contacted for this story either did not respond to requests for comment or, if reached, declined to take a position on the issue. But industry groups representing retailers and grocers have expressed opposition to the laws limiting bags.

“This will cost the consumer and will be an inconvenience,” said David Overfelt, president of the Missouri Retailers Association. Overfelt said the ban would limit consumers’ choices on how they can carry their purchases from a store and that, comparatively speaking, plastic bags cause less environmental harm than paper bags because plastic bag production has a lower carbon footprint than paper bag production.

Paul Weitzel, managing partner for Willard Bishop, a Barrington, Ill.-based retail consulting firm, noted that some grocery store chains are taking the environmentally-friendly approach and ditching plastic bags.

But, Weitzel said, stores must also look at the economic side of the situation: plastic bags cost stores about a half-cent a piece right now, compared with about 6 1/2 cents a piece for paper bags.
“The plastic bag is just so cheap right now,” he said.

While representatives for chain grocery stores operating in Columbia demurred from offering an opinion about Columbia’s proposed bag ban, they were willing to discuss their plastic bag recycling programs.

Tara Deering-Hansen, a spokeswoman for Hy-Vee, said in an email that, in the company’s 2013 fiscal year, its 230 stores recycled more than 2 million pounds worth of plastic shopping bags. The recycled materials, she said, was reused to make new plastic bags.

Gerbes also recycles the bags that customers bring back to the store and uses the materials to make new bags, said Sheila Lowry, a spokeswoman for Dillon Stores, which operates Gerbes. Since September, she said, Dillon stores in Missouri, Kansas and Nebraska have recycled 394 tons of plastic bags.

Lile, chairman of the Environment and Energy Commission, said commission members are still weighing the pros and cons of the proposal and meeting with some business owners to ensure the ban would not unfairly burden some sectors of the population or particular businesses.

“We want to make sure that local business owners understand why we’re doing this,” Lile said.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Nightly News Report: Ocean Is Filled With Trillions of Plastic Pieces

Published on NBC News December 14th 2014
Nearly 300,000 tons of plastic pieces are in the world's oceans, according to a report.

Study Gauges Plastic Levels in Oceans

Plastic debris washed up on a beach in Azores, Portugal. Credit Marcus Eriksen
It is no secret that the world’s oceans are swimming with plastic debris — the first floating masses of trash were discovered in the 1990s. But researchers are starting to get a better sense of the size and scope of the problem.

A study published Wednesday in the journal PLOS One estimated that 5.25 trillion pieces of plastic, large and small, weighing 269,000 tons, could be found throughout the world’s oceans, even in the most remote reaches.

The ships conducting the research traveled the seas collecting small bits of plastic with nets and estimated worldwide figures from their samples using computer models. 

The largest source of plastic by weight comes from discarded fishing nets and buoys, said Marcus Eriksen, the leader of the effort and co-founder of the 5 Gyres Institute, a nonprofit group that combines scientific research with antipollution activism.

Dr. Eriksen suggested that an international program that paid fishing vessels for reclaimed nets could help address that issue. But that would do nothing to solve the problem of bottles, toothbrushes, bags, toys and other debris that float across the seas and gather at “gyres” where currents converge. 

The pieces of garbage collide against one another because of the currents and wave action, and sunlight makes them brittle, turning these floating junkyards into “shredders,” he said, producing smaller and smaller bits of plastic that spread far and wide.

When the survey teams looked for plastics floating in the water that were the size of grains of sand, however, they were surprised to find far fewer samples than expected — one-hundredth as many particles as their models predicted. That, Dr. Eriksen said, suggests that the smaller bits may be swept deeper into the sea or consumed by marine organisms.

The result echoed that of a paper published this year in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that found a surprisingly low amount of small plastic debris. Those researchers estimated as much as 35,000 tons of the smaller debris were spread across the world’s oceans, but they had expected to find millions of tons.

Andrés Cózar, a researcher from the University of Cadiz who headed that study, said in an email that he and Dr. Eriksen came to different conclusions about the amount of plastic afloat, but that “it is evident that there is too much plastic in the ocean,” adding, “The current model of management of plastic materials is (economically and ecologically) unsustainable.”

The fact that the small plastics are disappearing is hardly good news. In fact, it could be far more troubling than the unsightly mess the plastics cause. Plastics attract and become coated with toxic substances like PCBs and other pollutants. Researchers are concerned that fish and other organisms that consume the plastics could reabsorb the toxic substances and pass them along to other predators when they are eaten.

“Plastics are like a cocktail of contaminants floating around in the aquatic habitat,” said Chelsea M. Rochman, a marine ecologist at the University of California, Davis. “These contaminants may be magnifying up the food chain.”

The ocean studies make an important contribution to the understanding of the floating waste problem, said Nancy Wallace, director of the marine debris program for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Further research should look beyond the surface to test where the smaller plastic bits might have gone: into the deeper ocean depths, along the shoreline or settled on the seafloor. “It’s premature to say there is less plastic in the ocean than we thought,” she said. “There may just be less where we’re looking.”

Dr. Eriksen said the scope of the problem makes floating garbage collection impractical. His group has had some success with campaigns to get manufacturers of health and beauty aids to stop using small scrubbing beads of plastic in their products.

Manufacturers of other products, he said, must be urged to change their practices as well. “We’ve got to put some onus on producers,” he said. “If you make it, take it back, or make sure the ocean can deal with it in an environmentally harmless way.”

Dr. Wallace agreed. “Unless we can stop the flow — turn off the tap of these pieces of debris going into the ocean all the time — we’re not going to be able to stop the problem.”

The American Chemistry Council, which speaks for the plastics industries, issued a statement saying that its members “wholeheartedly agree that littered plastics of any kind do not belong in the marine environment,” and it cited industry efforts to combat the problem, including the 2011 Declaration of the Global Plastics Associations for Solutions on Marine Litter, which has led to 185 projects around the world.

Plastic-eating moth larva could speed biodegradation of polyethylene

Published in Processing Magazing, December 08, 2014
<photocredit>Wikipedia Commons/Rasbak</photocredit>

Plastic waste which takes many years to break down is a growing environmental problem. While recycling programs have been established in some jurisdictions, most plastic still ends up in landfills.

But new research offers hope for the development of a single-step process of biodegradation, which could help to get rid of the otherwise persistent waste.
Jun Yang and colleagues discovered that bacteria from the guts of a worm known to munch on food packaging can degrade polyethylene (PE), the most common form of plastic.

The American Chemical Society (ACS) reports that the researchers focused their attention on a moth larva, known as a waxworm, which is capable of chewing and eating PE films. They found that at least two strains of the waxworm's gut microbes could degrade polyethylene without the need for pretreatment, such as exposing the plastic to light or heat.

The researchers incubated the two strains on PE films. After 28 days they found signs of degradation which included a 50 percent reduction in tensile strength and 30 percent reduced ability to repel water droplets. After 60 days, the mass of the plastic films was 10 percent lower and the molecular weights of the polymer chains dropped by 13 percent.

In a report in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology, the researchers said that their findings demonstrated the presence of PE-degrading bacteria in the guts of waxworms and provided promising evidence for the biodegradation of PE in the environment.

Remembering the genius who got BPA out of your water bottles, and so much more

Published in Grist.org

It was the late 1970s and Theo Colborn was, like pretty much everyone else in the ’70s, getting divorced. She was in her 50s and already retired from a career as a pharmacist.

She’d moved to a hobby farm that was close to the Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory in Colorado and volunteered as a field researcher, sampling water and insects for signs that they were picking up toxins released by mining operations in the area. When she thought about what she should do next with her life, the answer that came to her was “become an expert in water sampling techniques.”

So Colborn went back to school. In 1985, at 58, she graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a Ph.D. in zoology and minors in epidemiology, toxicology, and water chemistry. “I wanted to get the education,” she said, in a 1988 Frontline interview, “so that I could maybe undo some of the things that my generation basically foisted on society.”

By the time Colborn died on Sunday, at the age of 87, she had immersed herself in decades of research — and inspired even more research — that sought to do just that. The many, many proposed BPA bans? Go back to the very beginning, and you’ll find Colborn. The concern over dwindling sperm counts? Same thing.

After she graduated, Colborn went to work in Washington, D.C., first as a Congressional Fellow and then as an analyst, researching industrial emissions and ozone for the Clean Air Act. When those projects ended, she was hired by two conservation organizations, the World Wildlife Fund and The Conservation Foundation, to put together an overview of Great Lakes water quality with another researcher, Richard Liroff. In the Frontline interview, she talked about what happened next:

I was working on a book on the state of the environment of the Great Lakes. And I pulled all this literature together, lots of papers, you know: fellows working in Canada, people working in the United States, one out on Lake Superior, others over, way over on Lake Ontario had done some work, written their papers, had them published in a number of different journals. None of them knew what the other was doing.

And basically, I sat in a wonderful position where I pulled all this information together. And looking at it I said, “There is something wrong here.” And the easiest thing for me to do is to use — thank goodness for computers — use a spreadsheet at a computer and start producing these spreadsheets.

And as I plotted those names of the animals in the column on the left-hand side, this is called the “Y” column, and then on the “X” column I plotted the effects that were seen in the animals, it began to fall out that there were serious problems and actually population declines, population crashes, actually extirpation of some populations. They disappeared in some places.

What Colborn was seeing was the result of a wide variety of synthetic chemicals that had come into being in the 1950s and ’60s. Even though they were present in the water at very low concentrations, they were subtly changing how the animals in that system developed — how their genes were programmed, how their cells differentiated and spread out through their bodies, and, ultimately, how they were able to survive and reproduce into the next generation.

The healthy wildlife around the Great Lakes, often, were those animals that had grown up elsewhere and migrated as adults. When their offspring failed to reach adulthood, or couldn’t reproduce, they were replaced by a fresh fleet of new arrivals. The lakes looked healthy, in other words, but they were a death trap.

Colborn credited this breakthrough, in part, to her unconventional scientific background.
I looked at it from an entirely different perspective. I looked at endocrinology differently. I began to look at toxicology. I was not trained in toxicology. I was trained in pharmacology until I went back to college to get my Ph.D. in my old age. Only then did I begin to sit in on toxicology courses.

There is a reductionism in scientists, in the scientific community. I have never been a reductionist. I am always thinking about the big picture. My thesis committee for my Ph.D. will tell you that. They had trouble with me.

At the time, Colborn said, scientists working on environmental issues had primarily been looking for cancer, which she described as “the big bugaboo.” Cancer was a rare event: In order to emerge, it had to circumvent the body’s defenses, and in a polluted community, not everyone would come down with it.

What Colborn found was different: To a developing organism, even an infinitesimally small exposure could alter fetal development and the possible effects — lower IQ, organ damage, trouble reproducing — could be spread out across a community like jam on toast. The concept was so new there wasn’t even a term for it. In 1991, Colborn and a team of 21 international scientists working on the issue came up with one: endocrine disruption.

Unlike a lot of scientists, Colborn was not shy about becoming a public figure. She co-authored a popular science book with the dramatic title of Our Stolen Future. She founded a nonprofit called the Endocrine Disruption Exchange, which, among other things, helped fund and cheerlead more research into endocrine disruption and its causes.

Colborn continued to do solid research and she also went pretty far out on quite a few limbs, blaming chemicals derived from fossil fuels for everything from Parkinson’s to Alzheimer’s to obesity to autism spectrum disorder.

“Governments must take heed immediately,” she wrote, earlier this year, “or there will be too few healthy, intelligent individuals left to preserve our humanitarian society and create some semblance of world peace.” (As if we don’t have a pretty significant historical record showing that humans were more than eager to be complete jerks to each other long before anyone started messing with the benzene ring.)

Still, her big message was incontestable — that over 60 years ago, we began to introduce all of these chemicals into the environment, and we still have no idea what most of them do to us. In raising these questions, Colburn got us closer to looking for answers.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Prairie Village considers banning plastic grocery bags

Read more here: http://www.kansascity.com/news/government-politics/article4369346.html#storylink=cpy
 A plastic bag is blown against the fence of a tennis court at Santa Fe Trail Park in the 7700 block of Delmar Street in Prairie Village.

Around her neighborhood, they call former Kansas City councilwoman Joanne Collins “the picker upper.”

She loathes litter. Especially those plastic shopping bags that flutter from tree branches and cling to sewer grates.

“I leaped up and got one off an awning once,” said Collins, a passionate environmentalist who says she’d welcome a ban on the plastic bags that merchants hand out by the billions.
“Kansas City needs to do it.”

Several nations and scores of U.S. cities, including Chicago and Seattle, have done just that in recent years. Next July, a statewide ban takes effect in California.

However, no bag restrictions are on the books hereabouts, despite some false starts. As a result, shoppers return home with millions of single-use bags every year, ignoring many retailers’ offer to pay a nickel for each reusable cloth bag brought into the store.

But that lack of action could start to change in the months ahead if bag restrictions gain a foothold in Prairie Village.

Officials there are considering whether to outlaw plastic grocery bags, or impose a fee on both plastic and paper bags to encourage the use of reusable canvas totes.

The citizens advisory committee studying the issue could also drop the idea, but for now that doesn’t seem likely.

“We are finding a lot of support,” environment committee chairman Ben Claypool said.

Should Prairie Village enact bag restrictions, it would be a first for Kansas and the metro area.

Roeland Park spent three years studying the issue but dropped plans to pass an ordinance in 2013, fearing a costly legal battle. The plastic bag industry has spent millions trying to defeat bag bans in other parts of the country.

“It was pretty devastating after all the work we’d done on it to have it come to a halt,” said Roeland Park City Councilwoman Megan England.

Garden City, Kan., too, took up and dropped the issue, despite concerns from ranchers that their cattle get plugged up from eating plastic bags caught on fence posts and barbed wire.

Missouri has no restrictions, either. A bill introduced in the general assembly in 2009 died in committee.

But this fall, Columbia began considering an ordinance that would prohibit bags being given away by anyone selling perishable food products, such as supermarkets and discount stores that sell groceries.

“I want to say the chances of it passing are really good,” said Jan Dye, chairwoman of the local Sierra Club, which initiated the proposal. “But I’m just not sure.”

And it will likely be months before she finds out.

Old question

Paper or plastic? That all-too-familiar question at the checkout counter has been with us since the late 1960s, when the now ubiquitous, two-handled plastic shopping bag came into being.

Over the ensuing decades, merchants and shoppers alike have come to prefer cheaper plastic bags over brown paper sacks. They also take up less space and, according to some, are easier to tote.

Worldwide, a trillion single-use plastic bags are handed out every year. Some point out they are used more than once by people who line their trash cans with them or pick up pet waste.

But there is only so much dog doo and used cat litter to convey. Most plastic bags are wadded up and tossed in the garbage, even the most ardent defenders of plastic bags concede.

That is despite the fact that, according to the plastic bag manufacturing industry, 90 percent of the American public has access to recycling options for plastic bags.

Depending on the community, the percentage of bags recycled ranges from the single digits to the mid teens. Before the ban in Seattle, for instance, only 13 percent of the 292 million bags handed out to shoppers annually were recycled.

“Americans use on average nearly one plastic bag each day,” says the left-leaning Earth Policy Institute, “taking something made from fossil fuels formed over millions of years and generally using it for mere minutes before throwing it away.”

In addition to filling up landfills and being a source of litter, the bags all too often find their way from storm sewers to the ocean where sea turtles mistake them for tasty jelly fish.

Bag restrictions began to pop up in the early 2000s here and abroad. Within a year of imposing a bag fee in 2002, Ireland saw a sharp increase in the number of people switching to reusables.

San Francisco, in 2007, became the first major U.S. city to initiate a ban on plastic grocery bags. Now the ban applies to virtually all retail uses.

In addition, merchants there are required to charge 10 cents for other bags they hand out, such as plastic bags that are certified compostable (most plastic bags aren’t), bags made out of recycled paper and reusable bags designed for at least 125 uses and are washable.

Many other cities on the West Coast have adopted similar restrictions since then. Elsewhere, several states and local governments have taken steps short of outright bans aimed at reducing plastic bag use, or are considering them.

Most notably, the District of Columbia saw a 60 percent reduction in consumers’ use of plastic bags after a 5-cent fee was imposed in 2010. Up to two-thirds of the money collected goes to the merchants, and the rest goes to a watershed cleanup fund.

Kansas City political consultant Marcus Leach had something similar in mind this year when he began making plans for a possible ballot issue here.

It, too, would have called for a 5-cent charge for each disposable bag, with the proceeds going for neighborhood beautification or to support curbside recycling.

“Unfortunately, the polling came back and said Kansas City is not ready for it yet,” Leach said. Percentage-wise, support “came back in the low 40s.”

Low priority

While favoring either a bag tax or an outright ban, local environmental groups haven’t made it a focus of their efforts.

Bridging the Gap, which operates recycling centers and heads the Keep Kansas City Beautiful anti-litter campaign, has its hands full with a lot of other issues, executive director Kristin Riott says.

Same goes for Vicki Richmond at the Healthy Rivers Partnership, who says plastic bags are a major source of litter in and along area streams. Yet even she sometimes forgets and leaves her cloth bags in the car when she goes into the store.

“But I find what they’re doing in Prairie Village exciting,” she said.

So far they haven’t done much, but they’re working on it. Last week, the environmental committee began setting up appointments with retailers for next month to get their opinions.

Chances are, they won’t be positive.

“No one likes to have litter around,” says Jon McCormick, president of the Retail Grocers Association of Greater Kansas City. But he says there are more pressing environmental issues that need addressing.

“We would be opposed to banning plastic,” he said.

Likewise, the ban-the-bag effort in Columbia is facing opposition.

In an op-ed published in The Columbia Tribune last week, the president of the Missouri Retailers Association said a ban would take away consumer choices, be a burden on business and not be that big of a boon to the environment.

“Their carbon footprint is lower than other bags,” wrote David Overfelt, “they require less water to make and those that do end up in landfills have often been reused as waste bags and take up significantly less space than other bag options.”

The industry-supported American Progressive Bag Alliance says people should be free to make their own choices. Imposing fees on paper or plastic, the group say, is an unfair tax on consumers.

“It’s a scam that will take billions of dollars from California taxpayers to line the pockets of grocers,” alliance chairman Mark Daniels told the Los Angeles Times in a prepared statement as the group mounts a petition drive to repeal the law in that state.

The industry also funds aggressive public relations campaigns to oppose bans.
Whatever direction Prairie Village and Columbia decide, it’s been proven that banning plastic bags alone won’t change people’s habits.

Only a small percentage of shoppers in Santa Fe, N.M., switched to reusable bags when that city’s plastic bag ban went into effect nearly a year ago. The reason for that, a study concluded, is that a 10-cent fee for paper sacks was cut before final passage.

“Without any disincentive to use paper bags, the effectiveness of the ordinance is clearly compromised,” it said.

Where bag bans have worked best, a fee on paper sacks has been imposed.

For now in Kansas City, plastic bags remain the go-to conveyance for schlepping groceries — at least judging by the traffic coming out of the Price Chopper in Brookside the other morning, only one out of 10 shoppers gripped a reusable cloth bag. More common were guys like Jim LeCluyse, whose shopping cart was laden with a dozen white, plastic bags.

Normally he uses cloth bags, pointing to a nest of them on the floor of his minivan. But he also has pets and felt the need to stock up on plastic bags.

“I think it’s a good thing,” he said of the bag bans some places have in effect. “But what would I do about my cat litter box and cleaning up after the dog?”

In places where the bans have passed, environmentalists say, somehow pet owners get by.
To reach Mike Hendricks, call 816-234-4738, or send email to mhendricks@kcstar.com.

Read more here: http://www.kansascity.com/news/government-politics/article4369346.html#storylink=cpy

Microfiber is polluting our oceans. Let’s stop it!

Microfiber is polluting our oceans. Let's stop it!

Microfiber, the fabric used to make synthetic clothing, is a major contributor to ocean plastic pollution. Here’s how you can help stop it.


We talked not too long ago about plastic microbeads polluting the Great Lakes and harming marine life. It turns out this isn’t the only way that our fashion and beauty choices are connected to plastic pollution. A 2011 study found that plastic microfiber from clothing is a major contributor to ocean plastic pollution.

A 2011 study might sound like old news, but as Derek Markham at Treehugger points out, “unfortunately, [this issue] doesn’t seem to have gotten any traction in the industry or in the media since then.” That means there’s still work to do.

Every time we put our synthetic clothing through the wash, we send around 1900 pieces of plastic microfiber down the drain. Those microscopic pieces of plastic make their way through our sewage systems and eventually into the ocean. While 1900 pieces of microscopic anything isn’t much, this adds up when you consider how much of our clothing is made from synthetic materials. For some of us, everything we send into the wash contains at least some microfiber.

This is an issue that we can’t solve by buying second hand, because so much second hand clothing is made from synthetic fibers, too.

So, how can we stop the stream of microfiber into our oceans?

Sticking to natural materials is a good place to start. Organic cotton, hemp, and linen are all good options. When you’re shopping, keep an eye out for fabrics that don’t look totally natural. Sateen cotton is a good example. That sine on sateen fabric comes from – you guessed it – plastic.

Unfortunately, finding the clothing you want made from natural materials isn’t always easy. That’s why the real area where we need to see a change isn’t in consumer habits. It’s at the industry level. But as consumers, we have powerful voices! The folks at Story of Stuff have launched a campaign aimed at one of the leading ethical sportswear companies: Columbia Sportswear.

The petition asks Columbia to “Become an industry leader by researching how to make clothing that doesn’t pollute our oceans with plastic!”

If you want to get heard on this issue, you can sign the petition here. You can also contact your favorite clothing manufacturer and tell them that you’re concerned about microfibers. The petition page links to a Greatist list of sportswear companies that might be most open to our voices on the microfiber issue.

Image Credit: Washing Machine photo via Shutterstock

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Europe’s ‘historic moment’ on plastics bags contested by industry advocates

The EU has agreed to curb the use of plastic bags in all member states.[Kerry Lannert/Flickr]
As lawmakers reached agreement this week to limit the use of plastic bags across Europe, industry voices warned that such rules will have a negative impact on trade in Europe's internal market.

The ban could also lead to different standards in legislation in member states and ultimately, to a ban on other types of packaging, according to PlasticsEurope, the association of plastics manufacturers.

The European Parliament and the Council agreed on Friday (21 November) on EU-wide legislation obliging member states to reduce the use of plastic bags. The law will apply only to bags with a thickness below 0.05mm, because they are less reusable, and turn into waste more quickly.

'Historic moment'
“This is a historic moment for all of Europe. For the first time ever, we have agreed on ambitious measures to reduce the amount of plastic waste in the environment,” said Margrete Auken, a Danish MEP from the Greens/EFA group, who negotiated the law on behalf of the European Parliament.

The new agreement, which is obligatory in all EU countries, gives national governments two ways to implement it. Either reduce consumption by 90 lightweight bags per citizen by 2019, and 40 bags by 2025, or have a mandatory charge by 2018.

These reduction targets will “limit the negative impacts of plastics carrier bag littering on the environment and encourage waste prevention”, according to a statement posted on the Council's website. Most of the plastics bags end up as waste in the EU waters, and it takes “hundreds of years before they are fully degradable”, the statement said.

Average consumption of single-use plastic bags was found to be at 176 bags per person per year in 2010.

Under the new law, member states can also introduce a complete ban on plastic bags at their own discretion. Such a decision, if implemented, is against the principle of free movement of goods, said PlasticsEurope.

A full prohibition will disrupt the trade flow between the member states, as it will limit the export-import possibilities of such goods, it warned.

“It opens the door for member states to ban not only plastic bags but other types of packaging,” said PlasticsEurope. “Such an inconsistent political framework […] would hinder investments and innovation and would create barriers to trade in packaged goods in Europe.”

Make users pay
The industry said that the best way to discourage the use of plastic bags is to make the users pay, like in Ireland or Denmark.

In Ireland, plastic bags accounted for 5% of litter before the levy was introduce in 2002, and then dropped almost overnight to around the current level of 0.25% in 2010, according to a Commission's impact assessment.

“Charging for bags can have a positive effect on raising consumers' awareness of the economic value of the resources that have been used to produce the bag,” said PlasticsEurope.

Under the new law, the governments have to organise public information campaigns to explain the environmental consequences of excessive use of lightweight plastic bags.

The new bill, despite receiving full support from the Parliament and the Council, was not backed by Tory MEPs. The proposal was seen as an interference in a national matter. Out of 60 votes in favour in the Environment Committee in the European Parliament, three legislators from the European Conservatives and Reformists abstained from voting.

"Plastic bags blight our countryside and oceans and kill millions of marine animals each year. I'm deeply concerned that Conservative MEPs refused to support legislation to reduce their use across the EU," said MEP Catherine Bearder, a Liberal Democrat.

But the British government is already planning to introduce a 5p charge for plastic bags next year, said Bearder. "It makes sense for the rest of Europe to follow suit."

The bill will now be formally adopted by the Council in December, and will be subject to a final vote in Parliament in early 2015.
The Committee of the Regions expressed disappointment as EU Member States and MEPs came to an agreement which would ensure that by 2019 no more than 90 plastic bags per person per year will be used. The Committee – which represents Europe's local and regional authorities - had hoped for an outright ban of free plastic bags by 2020, compulsory EU targets for all Member States and the introduction of charges for all carrier bags to ensure an 80% reduction.

After the new European Commission considered pulling the entire package to reduce plastic bag usage, speaking on behalf of the Committee Cllr. Linda Gillham said, "There were hopes that governments would use the opportunity to rid Europe of the unnecessary over-use of plastic bags once and for all. But as theEuropean Commission was close to pulling the plug on the entire proposal, we are relieved - as this agreement is better than no agreement.

The proposal to cut the average number of lightweight plastic bags each year from 198 to 90 per person by 2019 is a compromise. It is a recognition that the environmental, social and economic consequences of the 100bn tons of plastic bags thrown away each year in Europe are illogical and unacceptable".
  • December, 2014: Adoption in the Council
  • Early 2015: European Parliament final approval
External links: 

EU institutions


That Takeout Coffee Cup May Be Messing With Your Hormones

A new study suggests that whole classes of BPA-free plastics—including the kind in styrofoam—release estrogenic chemicals.


Most people know that some plastics additives, such as bisphenol A (BPA), may be harmful to their health. But an upcoming study in the journal Environmental Health finds that entire classes of plastics—including the type commonly referred to as styrofoam and a type used in many baby products—may wreak havoc on your hormones regardless of what additives are in them.
The study's authors tested 14 different BPA-free plastic resins, the raw materials used to make plastic products, and found that four of them released chemicals that mimic the female hormone estrogen. That's not surprising. As Mother Jones reported earlier this year, many BPA-free plastic goods—from baby bottles and sippy cups to food-storage containers—leach potentially harmful estrogenlike chemicals.

But until now, it wasn't clear what role the resins played. The new study suggests that sometimes the resins themselves are part of the problem, though additives such as dyes and antioxidants can make it worse.

In the case of polystyrene, the resin used in styrofoam and similar products, the authors tested 11 samples and consistently found estrogen seepage after exposure to intense steam or ultraviolet rays.

Styrofoam is a registered trademark of Dow. The company stresses that its product is used for crafts and building insulation, not food and beverage containers. ("There isn't a coffee cup, cooler, or packaging material in the world made from actual Styrofoam," according to Dow's website.)

But generic polystyrene foam, which most people call styrofoam anyway, is ubiquitous in the food services industry, where its found in everything from meat trays to takeout containers. Polystyrene resin—which the Environmental Protection Agency has labeled a suspected carcinogen—is also used to make hard plastic items, including utensils and toothbrushes.

The study also looked at three different types of Tritan—a novel plastic marketed as a safe, estrogen-free alternative to BPA-laden polycarbonate—and found that all of them leached estrogen-like chemicals.

That's bad news for consumers, given that hundreds of household products are made from Tritan. Below are some examples, with the caveat that not all of these finished products have been specifically tested for estrogenic effects:
  • CamelBak Eddy Kid's BPA-free water bottle
  • CamelBak Relay water filtering pitcher
  • Foogo by Thermos sippy cups
  • Hamilton Beach Multi-Blend blender
  • Nalgene BPA-free water bottles (color matters; see the chart below)
  • OXO Good Grips LockTop food-storage containers
  • Rubbermaid Hydration Chug bottles
  • Rubbermaid carafes
  • Rubbermaid Premier food-storage containers
  • Thermos Under Armour water bottles
  • Weil Baby bottles
  • Weil Baby sippy cups
  • Whole Foods bulk bins
The new paper was authored by University of California-Davis toxicologist Michael Denison, who coinvented a common cell-based test for estrogen-mimicking compounds, and by scientists from CertiChem, a commercial lab in Austin, Texas.

As part of the study, researchers  soaked plastics resins in a variety of common solvents and tested the chemicals that seeped out using a line of breast cancer cells (MCF-7) that proliferates in the presence of estrogen and a line of ovarian cancer cells (BG-1) that lights up when exposed to the female hormone.

The 200-plus samples of Tritan resins that were tested consistently leached estrogenlike chemicals after being exposed to a type of ultraviolet ray found in sunlight (UVA) and another kind that some parents use to sterilize baby bottles (UVC). In some cases, samples that hadn't even been exposed to UV light also seeped estrogenic compounds.

While the authors didn't identify the specific hormone-mimicking chemical (or chemicals) that leached from the resin, they tested one Tritan component—triphenyl phosphate (TPP)—and found it was estrogenic.

These findings are consistent with data collected by Tritan's manufacturer, Tennessee-based Eastman Chemical. In 2008, the company commissioned a study that used computer modeling to predict whether various Tritan ingredients could imitate estrogens, based on their chemical structures. It found that TPP was likely to be more estrogenic than BPA. As we previously reported:
Eastman, which never disclosed these findings to its customers, later commissioned another study, this one involving breast cancer cells. Again, the initial results appeared positive for estrogenic activity. In an email to colleagues, Eastman's senior toxicologist, James Deyo, called this an "oh shit moment."
The company now says that additional testing has determined that Tritan is not estrogenic, and insists that there is little risk of TPP leaching from Tritan containers because it breaks down during the manufacturing process. "We have no reason to expect TPP to be present in the product as supplied by Eastman," says Maranda Demuth, an Eastman spokeswoman.

But confidential documents the company filed with the US Food and Drug Administration list TPP as one of the "substances that may be present in food after contact with Tritan."

While the specific health effects of TPP are unknown, a 2012 literature review by a dozen prominent scientists found "substantial evidence" that estrogen-mimicking chemicals are harmful even at minute doses. BPA, the most studied of the lot, has been linked to myriad problems, including asthma, cancer, infertility, low sperm count, heart disease, and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

In some cases, the effects appear to be handed down to the offspring of the person exposed.
Questions about Tritan's safety first arose in 2011, when CertiChem scientists and V. Craig Jordan, a well-known pharmacologist and Georgetown University professor, published a study in the National Institutes of Health journal Environmental Health Perspectives.

The group tested a wide variety of plastic products—including many made from Tritan—and found that most leached estrogenic compounds when exposed to conditions such as UV rays or heat from a microwave. These findings touched off a fierce battle pitting the $375 billion plastics industry against CertiChem and its founder, George Bittner, who is also a neurobiology professor at the University of Texas-Austin. From our earlier report:
The month after Bittner's study appeared, the American Chemistry Council contacted Chris Borgert, the former tobacco industry scientist who stymied the EPA's Endocrine Disruptor Screening Program. According to internal emails, the council and the Society of the Plastics Industry offered to pay him $15,000 to write a brief letter to the journal's editor refuting CertiChem's study…
At the same time, Eastman laid plans to sue CertiChem and PlastiPure for false advertising. Expecting that Bittner would lash out after being served papers, the company launched a preemptive PR blitz.
"By proactively promoting Tritan safety," an internal memo noted, "it will put PlastiPure in a position to have to prove Eastman wrong." The company also paid a scientist named Thomas Osimitz $10,000 to author a research paper on Tritan.
While Osimitz was ostensibly working independently, Deyo, the Eastman toxicologist, micromanaged the process, from designing the study to writing the introduction. Deyo's study design virtually guaranteed estrogenic activity wouldn't be found.
Specifically, Deyo chose a breed of rat that doesn't readily respond to synthetic estrogen. He also instructed the researchers to test only select Tritan ingredients, as opposed to Tritan itself. TPP, the chemical that had raised red flags, was not tested.

After publishing its findings in the summer of 2012, Eastman sued CertiChem and its sister company PlastiPure for false advertising, alleging that they were spreading false information to generate demand for their own services.

Despite evidence that the manufacturer's own studies found that Tritan may be estrogenic, Eastman won. A federal judge barred the labs from discussing their Tritan findings, except in scientific settings.

CertiChem has made good use of that exception. Earlier this year, it released a second study focusing on hard, clear, reusable plastic products—most of which leached estrogenic compounds after exposure to UV rays. And some Tritan products did so even before they were exposed to these stressors. The chart below shows the company's results for a sampling of products.

Are There Hormone-Altering Chemicals in Your Plastic Bottle?

Estrogenic activity before and after UV exposure
Product Type of plastic Before UV exposure After UV exposure
Baby bottles        
AVENT Polyethersulfone (PES) Not tested Positive
Born Free Polyethersulfone (PES) Not tested Positive
Green to Grow Polyethersulfone (PES) Negative Positive
Evenflo Tritan Not tested Positive
Weil Baby Tritan Negative Positive
Sippy cups        
CamelBak, blue* Tritan Positive Positive
Weil Baby Tritan Negative Positive
Water bottles        
CamelBak, black Tritan Not tested Positive
CamelBak, blue Tritan Not tested Positive
Nalgene, blue* Tritan Negative Positive
Nalgene, green* Tritan Negative Negative
Topas Cyclic Olefin Copolymer (COC) Negative Negative
Zeonor Cyclic Olefin Polymer (COP) Negative Negative
Other products        
Crate & Barrel wine glasses, red* Acrylic Positive Positive
Disposable cup Polystyrene (PS) Positive Not tested
Lock & Lock food containers Tritan Positive Positive
Clamshell takeout container* Polystyrene (PS) Positive Not tested

*Tested using BG-1 cells
Read about the methodology behind this chart.
Source: George D. Bittner, et al, Environmental Health
Chart by Jaeah Lee

The most recent study shows that the Tritan resin itself leaches estrogenlike chemicals, at least in a laboratory setting.

It's not all bad news, though. The paper also names a number of resins the authors found to be free of estrogenic compounds. These include PETG (polyethylene terephthalate, glycol-modified), which is sometimes used in food and beverage packaging, and two relatively new resins, COC (cyclic olefin copolymer) and COP (cyclo olefin polymer), which are often used by the medical industry.

But Bittner, the study's lead author, warns that even products made of those plastics aren't guaranteed to be safe, since many plastic additives are also estrogenic. "Manufacturers don't tell the public what additives they're using," he says. "And in most cases they're not testing them for estrogenic activity because they don't have to. This is a case in which the consumers are going to have to demand safer products. If they take a stand, they can produce a very quick change in the market. "

Monday, December 1, 2014

Sea Shepherd Spearheads Cleaning Up the Oceans

Published in the Huffington Post
The oceans are in dire straights, they are suffocating from 772 million tons of plastics.

Join me for another segment of SOS from Los Angeles, California as I show how problem solvers and innovators are turning ocean plastics into high-performance denim.

For every problem there are at least three solutions. Let me tell you of one very exciting solution that's turning ocean plastic into fashion and making a difference.
On average each person in America uses 326 pounds of plastic a year and much of it is winding up in the oceans. Photo credit: RawForTheOceans.g-star.com
The Vortex Project is a collaboration between eco-material innovator Bionic Yarn, Sea Shepherd Conservation Society and Parley -- for the Oceans.

"The oceans need us now," says American recording artist, Curator and Co-Designer of RAW for the Oceans and Creative Director of Bionic Yarn -- Pharrell Williams 
Using Bionic Yarn's unique fibers made from ocean plastic, denim brand G-Star is producing G-Star's "RAW for the Oceans," a line of denim with a purpose that uses ingenious technology.
Retrieved ocean plastic is broken down into chips then shredded into fibers. Photo credit: RawForTheOceans.g-star.com
The ocean plastic fiber is then spun into a stronger core yarn, and then helixed with soft cotton to form bionic yarn. Photo credit: RawForTheOceans.g-star.com
The bionic yarn is then weaved or knitted into snazzy "RAW for the Oceans" fabric. Photo credit: RawForTheOceans.g-star.com

G-Star is transforming ocean plastic into high performance denim that feel and ages just like traditional denim.
Bionic® yarns are up to 400% stronger than conventional yarns. Photo credit: RawForTheOceans.g-star.com

Kudos to Sea Shepherd for using scientific innovation and awareness-building to mobilize teams from around the globe to clean up the oceans and our beaches.

Please join me this Christmas in Australia for the launching of my ninth book "Shepherding the Sea: The Race to Save our Oceans."

Join Earth Dr Reese Halter in his crusade to protect our planet by watching Earth Calling SOS