Research Article on Production, Use and Fate of all Plastics Ever Made, 2017
The latest and most comprehensive academic report on global plastic production: Production, Use and Fate of all Plastics Ever Made. Headline statistics include:
- Plastic debris has been found in all major ocean basins, with an estimated 4 to 12 million metric tons of plastic waste generated on land entering the marine environment in 2010 alone.
- The largest market for plastic is packaging, an application whose growth was accelerated by a global shift from reusable to single-use containers
- As of 2015, approximately 6300 million metric tons of plastic waste had been generated, around 9% of which had been recycled, 12% was incinerated, and 79% was accumulated in landfills or the natural environment.
United Nations Environment Programme Report on Marine Litter, 2016
United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) reports on marine litter: Every year, the sum of humanity’s knowledge increases exponentially. And as we learn more, we also learn there is much we still don’t know. Plastic litter in our oceans is one area where we need to learn more, and we need to learn it quickly. That’s one of the main messages in Marine Litter Vital Graphics. Another important message is that we already know enough to take action.
List of shops and products (online and local to Stroud)
This is my list of where to get things unpackaged or of sympathetic online shops that will send items in non-plastic packaging: shops-and-products vs2
The Great British Beach Clean
The Marine Conservation Society (MCS) is a UK charity that work to ensure that the sea’s rich wildlife can be restored, fish stocks grow more plentiful, and our beaches and seawater become cleaner. Levels of beach litter have doubled over the last two decades. The September 2016 Great British Beach Clean organised by MCS saw just short of 6,000 volunteers clean 364 beaches around the UK and record the litter they found. Read the full Beach Clean 2016 report.
“The Society has a record of sustained achievement and deserves the wholehearted, passionate support of everyone who cares about our marine environment. Our special bond with our coastline and the sea, developed and nurtured over many generations, deserves nothing less.” HRH The Prince of Wales (MCS President)
UK statistics on waste, August 2016 estimates
Read the report from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs on UK waste statistics here.
Impact of microplastics in fish – Environment Agency Report
Download the full report from the UK government website here.
“Plastic wastes are rapidly accumulating in landfill and in natural habitats, especially the marine environment, where they create a potential hazard for wildlife. The full environmental impacts of plastic waste are not understood, but the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) estimates that marine plastic wastes cause the deaths of hundreds of thousands of aquatic vertebrates each year. These deaths result partly from entanglement or physical damage caused by macroplastics, but there are also concerns that ingested plastic fragments (microplastics) may block the digestive system and cause starvation. Furthermore, it is thought that persistent organic pollutants may partition to plastics and be transported into the food chain. To address these concerns laboratory exposures were conducted to assess the biological effects of ingested plastic particles.”
Where does the plastic in the oceans come from? June 2016 Report
Independent UK consultancy Eunomia who help organisations to achieve better environmental and commercial outcomes, published a report in June 2016 on where plastic in marine environments come from. You can download the report here. The report explains the information sources and analysis underlying Eunomia’s marine plastics infographic:
The New Plastics Economy
An excellent short video from the three-year New Plastics Economy Initiative
What does ‘biodegradable’ mean exactly?
Biodegradation is a bio-chemical process in which materials, with the help of micro-organisms, break down into natural elements (e.g. water, carbon dioxide, new biomass). The availability of oxygen determines which molecules the organic carbon is converted to (partly into carbon dioxide in the presence of oxygen, partly into methane without oxygen). There are schemes and standards to certify that a material biodegrades in a specific environment within a specified
timescale. However, this does not mean that such a material biodegrades in any environment
within a short timescale. Industrially compostable materials, for example, are biodegradable (i.e. they break down into natural elements with the help of micro-organisms) within the conditions and timescale specified in industrial composting standards. However, they do not biodegrade in home composting [lower temperature] conditions within the same timescale. Hence, the term ‘biodegradable’ is very broad and can easily be misinterpreted. As pointed out by European Bioplastics, ‘“biodegradable” by itself is not more informative than the adjective “tasty” used to advertise food products’.
Extract from The New Plastics Economy by the Ellen MacArthur Foundaiton. Download the entire report here: https://www.ellenmacarthurfoundation.org/assets/downloads/EllenMacArthurFoundation_TheNewPlasticsEconomy_15-3-16.pdf
Know your plastic packaging
Thanks Ellen MacArthur for the clear explanations!
My Plastic Free Life, by Beth Terry
Beth Terry is an accountant from California who became an activist, author and public speaker after learning about the devastating effects of plastic polution and her own plastic footprint back in 2007. Her blog is a comprehensive resource on plastic-free living. Many of the wonderful sites and events she posts about are of course in the States but are nevertheless really informative. See her blog here.
Circular Economy and the Ellen MacArthur Foundation
Inspiring stuff from The Ellen MacArthur Foundation who work with business, government and academia to build a framework for an economy that is restorative and regenerative by design. “Applying circular economy principles to global plastic packaging flows could transform the plastics economy and drastically reduce negative externalities such as leakage into ocean.”
Ellen MacArthur is the UK solo long-distance yachtswoman who broke the world record for the fastest solo circumnavigation of the globe in 2005. If you have a bit of time to spare, this is an great and inspiring organisation with links to the lastest research papers.
The Social Plastic Initiative
The Plastic Bank is an organisation the makes plastic waste a currency to help the world’s most disadvantaged people. Founder David Katz says “I’ve come to realize that the problem with plastic waste, is that people see it as waste. But if we can reveal the value in plastic, we can make it too valuable to throw away. If we can reveal value in people, we can unleash the potential of the world’s most disadvantaged and give them a platform to improve their lives. That’s my vision. It’s a triple bottom line social enterprise (people, planet, profit).”
The Plasitc Bank is a partner in LUSH Cosmetics. In early 2015 The Plastic Bank launched its full operations in Haiti through Solar Powered Social Plastic Recycling Markets. Plans are now in place to expand this model globally. The website is full of interesting and awe-inspiring videos and also some shocking reality checks!