Tag Archives: plastic

Plastics Don’t Disappear, But They Do End Up In Seabirds’ Bellies

bird plastic belly

The vast majority of debris in the ocean — about 75 percent of it — is made of plastic. It can consist of anything from plastic bottles to packaging materials, but whatever form it takes, it doesn’t go away easily.

While plastic may break down into smaller and smaller pieces, some as small as grains of sand, these pieces are never truly biodegradable. The plastic bits, some small enough that they’re called microplastics, threaten marine life like fish and birds, explains Richard Thompson, a professor of marine biology at Plymouth University in the U.K.

“The smaller the piece of debris, the more accessible it is — and the wider the range of creatures that could potentially eat it,” says Thompson, who talked with NPR’s Melissa Block about his research on the effects of these tiny particles.

Thompson says limiting the damage plastics can cause to sea life doesn’t mean giving up plastic entirely. “It’s not about banning plastics,” Thompson says. “It’s about thinking about the ways that we deal with plastics at the end of their lifetime to make sure that we capture the resource.”

By recycling items like plastic bottles, he says, and then ultimately recycling those products again, what might have become harmful debris can be turned instead to better use — and kept out of the ocean.

You can hear Block’s full conversation with Thompson here: http://www.npr.org/player/v2/mediaPlayer.html?action=1&t=1&islist=false&id=322959714&m=323032849

U.N. Report: Our Oceans are Trashed with Plastic!

indonesia Man walks beside the scattered plastic trash brought in by the waves at Kuta Beach in Indonesia.

–  A series of new reports are raising concerns about the damage plastic waste is doing to oceans — harming marine animals, destroying sensitive ecosystems, and contaminating the fish we eat.

   The United Nations Environment Programme, as well as the NGOsGlobal Ocean Commission and Plastic Disclosure Project, released reports on Monday ringing the alarm bell about the environmental impact of debris on marine life.

   Plastic waste in oceans is causing $13 billion of damage each year, according to the UNEP report, and that figure could be much higher. Worldwide plastic production is projected to reach 33 billion tons by 2050, and plastic makes up 80% of litter on oceans and shorelines.

   “Plastics undoubtedly play a crucial role in modern life, but the environmental impacts of the way we use them cannot be ignored,” said UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner in a press release.

   Ten to 20 million tons of plastic end up in the ocean each year, from litter, runoff from poorly managed landfills, and other sources. Once it’s in the water, plastic does not degrade but instead breaks into smaller pieces and swirls in massive ocean gyres, creating soupy surfaces peppered with the material.

   Scientists are especially worried about the growing prevalence of tiny microplastics which are smaller than 5 millimeters. These include microbeads, which are used in toothpaste, gels, facial cleansers and other consumer goods. Microplastics aren’t filtered by sewage treatment plants, and can be ingested by marine animals with deadly effect.

   Ocean debris isn’t just an environmental issue — it also complicated the search for Malaysia Airlines flight 370 earlier this year, as floating debris confused satellite images.

What can be done?

   “It’s not just an ocean problem, it’s a business and a municipal issue,” Woodring said. “The ocean is just downstream of our activities. The real solution is upstream at the producer and user end.”

   Governments can help solve the problem by regulating the use of plastics and creating infrastructure to recycle them. For example, dozens of nations have banned plastic bags at supermarkets or restricted their use.

   That’s a “good start,” said Ada Kong, a campaigner at Greenpeace. But they can go further, she said. “Governments should enforce laws to regulate the cosmetic manufactures to label the ingredients (of consumer goods), including all the microplastics.”

   The general public can also be conscious about their plastic footprint by simply purchasing goods without a lot of excess plastic packaging. People should also separate their plastic from other waste and recycle it, Woodring said.

From waste to resource

   Companies that produce plastic goods have perhaps the biggest opportunity to make a difference, Woodring said. They can engage their customers with rebate or deposit programs, giving them incentives to bring back plastic for recycling.

   “Everything from bottles to food packaging can be made from recycled plastic,” Woodring said. “The technology is there today to reuse it.”

   His organization is hosting a “Plasticity Forum” in New York City on Tuesday featuring presentations about how to creatively reuse plastic.

   Plastic isn’t just waste — it’s “a valuable material, pound-for-pound worth more than steel, and we’re just not capitalizing on it today,” Woodring said.

   The new reports come on the eve of the first-ever United Nations Environment Assembly in Nairobi, a forum for environmental ministers, scientists, and others to discuss strategies to combat climate change and other environmental problems. An ocean conference hosted by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in Washington, D.C. last week also focused on marine pollution.

   Perhaps the greatest sign of the problem is the rapidly-growing Great Pacific Trash Patch, a massive sheet plastic and other debris that circles in a gyre across the ocean.

-Article compliments of Daojun Wu (CNN)-


Tell Trader Joe’s parent company to stop killing whales with plastic waste!

whale plastic belly

Link to the petition (click here): Online Petition – http://action.sumofus.org/a/sperm-whale-plastic-tesco/4/2/?sub=fb Click on it, and sign it, please.

A sperm whale that washed up in Spain died after swallowing almost 60 different pieces of plastic dumped by the greenhouses that supply Trader Joe’s parent company, Aldi.

This 4.5 tonne whale was defeated by 17 kg of plastic waste, including two dozen sections of the transparent sheeting used to cover industrial greenhouses. There’s no excuse for Aldi’s failure to ensure their suppliers recycle and safely dispose of their deadly waste — but as long as they’re given a free pass, plastic will continue to swamp our oceans each year, and more whales will die.

Tell Trader Joe’s parent company to make sure their greenhouses recycle or safely dispose of their waste.

Only about 1,000 sperm whales are left in the Mediterranean, and they feed near waters flooded by the greenhouse industry. Acre after acre of farmland in southern Spain is covered in reams of plastic sheeting to produce the perfect growing conditions for year round fruit and vegetables. Due to poor waste disposal, this plastic ends up floating in the Mediterranean.

Now these whales are under threat from swallowing huge quantities of non-degradable plastics. If we lose the whales, we disable an entire ecosystem — and all because grocery stores are too lazy to monitor their suppliers.

Our supermarket chains could easily ensure that plastics used to grow our fruit and vegetables are disposed of correctly and recycled. But so far, they are walking away and counting their profits — and as they do, our oceans and seas are dying. Let’s not let another whale die from too much plastic.

Tell Aldi to clean up their supply chains and stop their suppliers from dumping toxic plastics in to the Mediterranean.

This isn’t the first time we’ve taken on the big supermarket chains. We came together to take on the might of Tesco in the UK when it was electronically tagging its workers, and we won a landmark campaign in the US demanding that Trader Joe’s help farm workers get paid a fair wage. Now we need to come together and take on grocery stores and demand they help save the whales.

Lab Mistake Results in Momentous Find!


It’s a happy accident: A mistake at an IBM research lab has created “a super-strong, super-light, and super-recyclable new material,” that could transform the old-school world of plastics and polymers and improve a slew of products, NBC News reports. Most of our polymers date back decades—think Styrofoam from the 1940s or nylon from the ’30s. But when researcher Jeannette Garcia forgot an ingredient in a polymerization reaction, she ended up making two new polymers—the first discovered in 20 years—including one so strong “I couldn’t even get it out of the flask,” she says. “I had to break the glass with a hammer.”

That polymer, nicknamed “Titan,” has about one-third the strength of steel and could show up in future computers, reports Mashable. The second, called “Hydro,” is a gel-like material that essentially heals itself when cut in two—which could work wonders as a “powerful-on-contact adhesive,” it adds. Both reduce down to molecules easily, which is big news because, “We can begin as scientists to design molecules that are incredibly tough, incredibly durable, but still recyclable,” a chemistry professor explains. That could mean a more eco-friendly shopping bag or water bottle, or even a tougher material for military drones.

Courtesy- Newser

Who is Oceanus? What are we all about?


Lending vision to hope.

A massive, swirling vortex of plastic refuse floats the currents of the Pacific Ocean, choking out marine wildlife on every level, from near microscopic phytoplankton to the gargantuan sperm whale. It’s a global crisis previously believed to be hopelessly beyond repair. Armed with a novel, research-based plan of attack, Oceanus is tackling the problem of rampant plastic pollution and turning it into a venture rife with invaluable possibilities.

Oceanus’ objectives are straightforward: clean the gyre, transform plastic debris into workable material, and build upon that; think of it as eco-righteous retribution. Our dynamic and efficient new ways of thinking about the gyre will pave the road to an infinitely healthier, more productive marine environment. With the goal to create a green-living community steeped from inception in the tradition of self-sustainability, Oceanus is embarking on a promising journey.

To learn more about Oceanus, or to explore how you can participate in the plastic recycling revolution, please visit: www.titan-oceanus.com

Oceanus’ solution to cleaning up our oceans, and creating sustainable green living inhabitancies while we’re at it.

For years now, many have turned a blind eye to the blight we have inflicted upon our oceans. Overwhelmed by the task at hand, they have hastily labeled cleanup an impossibility. This is unacceptable. Here at Oceanus, we reject that defeatist mentality. Instead of allowing this momentous task to rout us, we have developed an entirely new approach in regards to the reversal of our plastic pollution problem.

The traditional approach to cleaning up the substantial amount of plastic debris floating in our gyres usually involves a fleet of ships (which would pollute the environment even more), hundreds of people, billions of dollars, and massive nets that would trap more marine life in them than ​plastic. Those who claim oceanic cleanup to be an impossibility are right about one thing: these conventional courses of action would not only be impractical, but inexecutable as well. So, then, what do we do? We think outside the box. We eliminate stale and outdated ideas. If we are going to tackle the problems of today for the betterment of tomorrow, we cannot employ the same archaic ways of thinking that we used when we created this mess.

A simple idea—one so obvious a solution that it’s mind-boggling it hasn’t been done before. There are obstacles impeding the cleanup of our oceans gyres? Well, eliminate the obstacles. It really is just that simple.

Instead of acquiring a fleet of ships, which would burn preposterous amounts of fossil fuel, thereby hastening global warming, we will acquire a single cargo ship. We then modify this standard cargo ship to fit our needs: we outfit this ship with solar paneling and mobile wind turbines to help with energy needs, consequently lowering our consumption of fossil fuel, and in turn, the pollution that comes with it; we will also be outfitting this ship with a specially modified skimmer, powered by a powerful dredge pump that has been designed to skim the surface of the gyre—negating the need to use ​inefficient nets that would do little more than snare ​marine wildlife; furthermore, we will be revamping the ship’s engine so that it can run on environmental friendly biodiesel blends, lessening our ​carbon footprint even more. In addition to these modifications, we will be outfitting the ship with one final component, to be addressed below.

oceanus cleanup gyre plastic pollution

We then set off for the gyre, a trip which will take approximately one week. Once there, we begin siphoning the top layer of the gyre (the majority of this plastic debris floats within ten meters of the surface of the water). The wonderful thing is, once we arrive at our destination, we have no further need to run the ship’s engines. The solar paneling and wind turbines will generate enough energy to supply power to the parts of the ship needing it. The only times we will be running ​the engines will the infrequent trips to and from the ​gyre.

By this phase of our operation, we will have removed and stored vast amounts of plastic debris from the water. Now, instead of burning unconscionable amounts of fuel going back and forth from gyre to land-based recycling facilities, we bring the recycling facility to us. We will have equipped our ship with all the necessary sorting and recycling machinery needed to recycle this plastic ​at sea—the final addition to Oceanus’ ship.

The ability to process and recycle the captured plastic from the gyre while still at sea is an integral part of Oceanus’ plan, because believe it or not, all of this plastic is going right back into the water from which it was extracted. On-ship, we will use our recycled materials to build what amount to sophisticated Lego blocks. These floating modular blocks will be constructed using specially designed casings, coated in a UV-resistant polymer (which will keep our materials from photodegrading), and filled with the recycled plastic we have been polluting our oceans with for generations now.

oceanus plastic shell cleanup

The blocks will then be encased in concrete, to both ensure structural integrity, and to contain any toxins that may have seeped into the recycled plastics, keeping them from further harming our environment. With each modular block built, our oceans will become cleaner, safer, and healthier. More than that, even, these former pollutants then become valuable tools with which to build an entirely green, self-sustainable, and environmentally conscious community, rife with possibilities.

oceanus recycling floating modular block

Once the blocks are built, we fasten them together using special interlocking dowels. This creates a sound and stable structure, capable of supporting any kind of habitat to be built atop it. We are actually using some of the same technology that is currently being used in floating oil platforms around the world, known to be a reliable foundation for heavy structures on open waters. The difference is, they are destroying the environment, we are restoring it. By layering fertile soil over the blocks, we will also be creating the opportunity to raise crops on Oceanus, further ensuring its self-sustainability.

oceanus modular blocks

As our efforts to eradicate plastic pollution accumulate, so do our building materials. With each block locked into place onto Oceanus, our community grows. Environmental, medical, and pharmaceutical research facilities, private homes, and public gardens are built, all powered by solar, wind, and wave energy.

oceanus green plastic floating modular city

Our goals here at Oceanus are multifold. While our primary objective is, and always will be, oceanic cleanup, if we are going to tackle one of the largest and most critical environmental crises humanity has faced to date, we cannot be singular in our objective. In the pursuit of our primary goal, a multitude of other forward-thinking opportunities will present themselves. Our closed circle plan is teeming with benefits—the reduction of pollution, the resuscitation of marine wildlife, and all of the myriad of prospects presented by Oceanus’ floating real estate are just the broad strokes of this vision. Imagine a community of like-minded, progressive individuals pioneering an entirely new  environmentally sound way of life, surrounded by an ever-expanding region of recovering ocean. This is Oceanus.