2018/10/17: New research shows microplastics in 90 percent of the table salt brands sampled worldwide. Of 39 salt brands tested, 36 had microplastics in them, according to a new analysis by researchers in South Korea and Greenpeace East Asia. Salt samples from 21 countries in Europe, North and South America, Africa, and Asia were analyzed. The three brands that did not contain microplastics are from Taiwan (refined sea salt), China (refined rock salt), and France (unrefined sea salt produced by solar evaporation). The study was published this month in the journal Environmental Science & Technology.
The density of microplastics found in salt varied dramatically among different brands, but those from Asian brands were especially high, the study found. The highest quantities of microplastics were found in salt sold in Indonesia. Asia is a hot spot for plastic pollution, and Indonesia -- with 34,000 miles (54,720 km) of coastline -- ranked in an unrelated 2015 study as suffering the second-worst level of plastic pollution in the world. In another indicator of the geographic density of plastic pollution, microplastics levels were highest in sea salt, followed by lake salt and then rock salt.
Even though the study found that the average adult consumes approximately 2,000 microplastics per year through salt, it's not clear what the health consequences are.
the focus on microplastics may divert attention from worse environmental (and more easily identifiable) pollution problems, such as small particles released from car tires.
2018/09/16: How bad is the situation with plastic pollution? Rather bad, by all means. Citing from a recent paper by Geyer et al., more than 8 billion tons of plastic have been produced since the 1950s. Of this mass, 9% percent was recycled, 12% was incinerated, the rest is still around. It is this mass of plastics, billions of tons, which generates the pollution we see today. It is almost one ton of plastic waste for every human being living today. Imagine if it were magically to appear in your living room: one ton for every member of your family.
Still following Geyer et al., we learn that in 2015 the world produced 380 million tons of plastics from fossil hydrocarbons. To get some idea of how polluting this mass is, we can compare it to the total carbon emissions produced by hydrocarbon combustion, which today can be estimated to be around 9 billion tons per year. As an order of magnitude comparison, we can say that about 4% of the fossil hydrocarbons we extract become plastics.
4% doesn't seem to be a large amount, but it is not negligible, either. Apart from the horrible state of some beaches, the islands of plastics in the oceans, it is a lot of carbon pumped into the ecosystems and its effects are scarcely known, especially on humans: we are all eating microplastic particles, today. What will that do to our health, nobody knows -- we are all guinea pigs in a great experiment. The long-run problem is that all this plastic is made from fossil hydrocarbons, it is going to be gradually oxidized and turned into gaseous CO2. Then, it will contribute to global warming.
is bioplastic the solution to the problem? As it often happens, quantification makes short work of ideas that seemed to be good in theory. Today, bioplastics are made mainly from cereals (corn) or directly from sugar. According to the data from Statista, the world's production of sugar was about 170 million tons in 2017, less than half the amount needed to make the currently produced amounts of plastics even in the wildly optimistic assumption of a 100% efficient process. About grain, the data tell us that in crop year 2016/2017, a total of approximately 2.62 billion metric tons of grain were produced worldwide. Again in the wildly optimistic assumption of a 100% efficient production process, it means we should set aside about 15% of the world's grain production - more realistically about 20%-25%. Then, of course, efficiency can be improved and we may find ways to make plastic out of plants not used as food. But, at present, it is the way things stand.
There is just so much that agriculture can do: it can't feed more than 7 billion people and, at the same time, provide fiber, chemicals, and fuel for everybody.
it would be perfectly possible to develop and implement international agreements that would curb the use of plastics made from fossil fuels and eventually ban it completely. That implies changing something in our everyday life: the "overpackaged" products that today are so common in supermarket aisles would have to disappear. But packaging is not evil: it is a way to store food more efficiently. We need to learn how to be much more efficient with it.
2018/09/16: 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."
The process works by cutting the plastic, roughening it up and adding a photo catalyst to it. This is a material that can absorb sunlight and transform it into chemical energy.
We need to invest in finding sustainable and scalable alternatives to plastic. Even marine plastic is in large part a fishing issue: 46% of the Great Pacific garbage patch is composed of discarded nets,
Precious Plastic started 5 years ago and has grown into a big community of enthusiastic people aroundrnthe world recycling plastic. Over 200 plastic recycling workspaces have already been set up and arnnew one is opening up somewhere around the world every week. This is great and keeps expanding.rnHowever, the plastic problem is still way, way bigger than us- most of the plastic is still laying aroundrnas waste. We can do more. Specially looking out our map with +6000 people from around the worldrnwanting to get started. Until now Precious Plastic is hacked together with minimal resources thanks tornthe help of people around the world. It is now time to step up our game and get more professional (atrnleast a bit :). We have been gathering feedback and shaping a plan for a new version. Precious Plastic
Novecento litri di carburante da una tonnellata di rifiuti. è la sfida di un'azienda svizzera che sbarca in Italia
2018-06-25: A boom in garbage is almost always the result of two related phenomena: urbanization and income growth. Rural dwellers moving to the city shift from buying unpackaged goods to buying stuff (especially food) wrapped in plastic. As their incomes rise, their purchases increase. That growth in consumption is almost never matched by expanded garbage collection and disposal. In typical low-income countries, less than half of all garbage is collected formally, and what little is picked up tends to end up in unregulated open dumps.
Although recycling is common in Asia, plastic presents an often insurmountable challenge: Technical and environmental factors render much of it unrecyclable, especially in developing regions. In fact, only about 9 percent of plastics are recycled globally.
Yet there's another, far more promising option: Improve regular old trash collection. for now, one reform could have a bigger global impact than just about any other: Start picking up the trash.