Plastics Related Stories in the Media
I wondered if there could be a thread for recording links to plastics related stories in the general media (newspapers, TV channels, podcasts). It could be stories about the plastics industry, or about plastic polution, or existing methods of dealing with waste, etc.
I’ll start off with this story from The Guardian in December 2017:
Colossal funding in manufacturing plants by fossil fuel companies will increase plastic production by 40%, risking permanent pollution of the earth
Story in this weekend’s Observer newspaper:
How melting plastic waste could heat homes.
The story is about a type of pyrolysis plant that takes the process further to produce hydrogen. The story doesn’t actually use the word pyrolysis, and by talking about clean hydrogen energy it taps into the current “hydrogen economy” rhetoric that is being used by some people.
The information appears to come from the University of Chester website. But there isn’t much extra there either. To me, it sounds like they may just be using a variant of the old coal syngas process – which requires steam and a carbon source to reduce water to H2 & CO. In this case they are using mixed plastics instead of coal, and may also get CH4, amongst other gases.
They are talking about collecting the H2, for sale, and burning the rest of the off-gases to make electricty. As such, this is basically an EFW (energy from waste) plant, that collects hydrogen as a byproduct. It looks like the combustion products (including CO2) will still enter the atmosphere – so, arguably, like all EFW plants it is just displacing an equal amount of fossil fuel use.
At least it will consume a lot of plastic – preventing it entering the oceans – even if it does pump out CO2.
Hundreds of tonnes of plastic washed up on beaches of remote islands in the Indian ocean. Includes nearly a million shoes and over a third of a million toothbrushes.
Study shows that much more plastic debris is buried beneath the sand than is on the surface of the beach – which means we are still drastically underestimating the amount of plastic crap in the oceans.
It’s literally everywhere now:
Another story about the floating trash collector:
And a more comprehensive article about boat-mills:
Environmental campaigners are struggling to fathom why nations blessed with clean tap water grow only fonder of the bottle. “It’s very surprising to me,” says Sam Chetan-Walsh, a political adviser at Greenpeace and campaigner against ocean plastic. “Public awareness has never been higher, but the message is not quite reaching all the people it needs to.”
A giant floating barrier launched off the coast of San Francisco as part of a $20m project to cleanup a swirling island of rubbish between California and Hawaii, is failing to collect plastic.
The mastermind behind the Ocean Cleanup, an ambitious plan to clear a swathe of the Pacific twice the size of Texas of floating debris, reported four weeks into testing that while the U-shaped device was scooping up plastic, it was then losing it.
Inventor Boyan Slat, 24, said that the slow speed of the solar-powered 600m-long barrier means it is unable to hold on to plastics, but a team of experts is now working on a possible fix.
“What we’re trying to do has never been done before. So, of course we were expecting to still need to fix a few things before it becomes fully operational,” Slat explained.
There’s ‘tons’ of those lately.
There are more useful ways of listing/storing them than a thread here, although how to do it also depends on what you want those news items for.
Dead sperm whale found in Indonesia had ingested ‘6kg of plastic’
A dead sperm whale that washed ashore in a national park in Indonesia had nearly 6kg (13 lbs) of plastic waste in its stomach, park officials say. Items found included 115 drinking cups, four plastic bottles, 25 plastic bags and two flip-flops. The carcass of the 9.5m (31ft) mammal was found in waters near Kapota Island in the Wakatobi National Park late on Monday.
“Mass production of plastics only began in the 1940s and 1950s, so it would be reasonable to expect less plastic in our earlier samples, with a subsequent upward trend to the present-day levels,” said lead author Winnie Courtene-Jones, a doctoral student at the University of the Highlands and Islands and SAMS.”But we haven’t seen that. In fact, the level of microplastic ingestion is remarkably similar throughout the time series.”This data shows, for the first time, the long-term prevalence of microplastic pollution in the deep sea and indicated that microplastics may have been present on the sea floor of the Rockall Trough prior to 1976.”
The plastics recycling industry is facing an investigation into suspected widespread abuse and fraud within the export system amid warnings the world is about to close the door on UK packaging waste, the Guardian has learned.
The Environment Agency (EA) has set up a team of investigators, including three retired police officers, in an attempt to deal with complaints that organised criminals and firms are abusing the system.
Six UK exporters of plastic waste have had their licences suspended or cancelled in the last three months, according to EA data. One firm has had 57 containers of plastic waste stopped at UK ports in the last three years due to concerns over contamination of waste.
Giant plastic-catcher gets towed out to tackle ocean garbage patches.
We won’t save the Earth with a better kind of disposable coffee cup
– George Monbiot
We must challenge the corporations that urge us to live in a throwaway society rather than seeking ‘greener’ ways of maintaining the status quo
“We thought we would just be finding small amounts of scattered plastic, domestic rubbish but it’s not that. It’s industrial rubbish we’ve been finding. “It’s a huge amount of plastic containers that look like they have come off ships. There’s fish boxes, there’s fish nets, there’s old bits of cable. We are talking metric tonnes of stuff in some places.”
This si still understating the problem, I reckon.
This story highlights some of the disagreements over future strategies for dealing with plastic waste. The Green Party position (at least in England & Wales) is that incineration is a bad thing. At the very least they talk about the addition of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere, and usually there is an accompanying complaint about “toxic” emissions.
Unfortunately, the fantasy that “recycling” actually exists, at any meaningful scale, is still strong. Statistics that include waste exports as “recycling” are still being quoted, even though we now know they are false.
Of course if incineration is prevented, and recycling is largely impossible, then that has to leave landfill as the preferred “green” temporary solution – with the phasing out of polymer manufacture as being the ultimate goal.
I would like to get to this spot and help the community to make tarps, hammocks, baskets and buckets out of this plastic for their home use.
Wave of plastic hits Dominican Republic
This was the scene on a beach in the Dominican Republic after a storm last Thursday.
We spoke to the organisation who shot the footage of the plastic on the shoreline.
well researched and interesting article about ‘How the Plastics Industry Is Fighting to Keep Polluting the World‘. I ordered the book, ‘THE USE AND ABUSE OF AMERICAN ENVIRONMENTAL IMAGES‘; looks like legit homework 🙂 . There is also a quote :
“They’re trying to create the perception that there’s a viable way to recycle most plastic waste into new products, and that’s simply not true.” ; say hello PP
Now this is only indirect linked to plastic but please check the alerts of MIT. Might be an amazing exercise to get the PP network active 🙂
The results came from a series of 229 beach cleans organised by the anti-pollution campaigning group in April, which found close to 50,000 pieces of waste. About 20,000 of these carried identifiable brands, of which Coca-Cola was the leader, followed by Walkers crisps, Cadbury’s, McDonald’s and Nestlé.
It was funny, on the trash wheel page, they listed what was in the 1,000,000 pounds of thrash they collected. Along with the usual was one ball python….I hope whoever was sorting trash that morning had their coffee.
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