Whether it’s this small organic farm coaxing an impressive yield out of a few acres in Oregon or a large conventional operation somewhere else in the world, plastic is a huge part of modern agriculture — a multi-billion-dollar worldwide industry, according to Penn State Extension. Billions of pounds are used around the world each year, with much of the plastic designed for one season’s use.
There’s a growing recognition by farmers and others in the agricultural community of the need for environmentally responsible disposal solutions for these materials. The question, though, is how to do that with materials designed to not break down in rain, sun and heat, and that can — if burned or left to degrade — pose environmental health hazards.
Read the full story in The Atlantic.
“I don’t have one. They’re kind of expensive to use,” John Sylvan told me frankly, of Keurig K-Cups, the single-serve brewing pods that have fundamentally changed the coffee experience in recent years. “Plus it’s not like drip coffee is tough to make.” Which would seem like a pretty banal sentiment, were Sylvan not the inventor of the K-Cup.
Almost one in three American homes now has a pod-based coffee machine, even though Sylvan never imagined they would be used outside of offices. Last year K-Cups accounted for most of Keurig Green Mountain’s $4.7 billion in revenue—more than five times what the company made five years prior. So even though he gets treated like a minor celebrity when he tells people he founded Keurig, Sylvan has some regrets about selling his share of the company in 1997 for $50,000. But that’s not what really upsets him.
Read the full story from Yahoo News.
California’s first-in-the-nation statewide ban on plastic shopping bags was put on hold Tuesday when state election officials confirmed a trade group had turned in enough signatures to place the issue before voters in 2016.
The American Progressive Bag Alliance, which represents bag manufacturers, had about 50,000 more valid signatures than the 505,000 needed to qualify the referendum after a random sample of the signatures was tallied, said Bill Mabie, chief deputy for Secretary of State Alex Padilla.
Read the full story in FastCoExist.
If you thought the world already had a plastic pollution problem, the depressing thing is that it’s likely to get worse before it gets better. History shows that as countries get richer they use and throw away ever greater volumes of the stuff. Economic growth tends to outrun investment in waste management.
That’s why many of the countries in a new list of the worst marine plastic polluters are middle-income nations. They’ve experienced recent economic growth and haven’t put in infrastructure to deal with the fallout. Many are likely to keep growing before they get a good handle on their plastic waste issues.
Read the full story from the University of Georgia.
A plastic grocery bag cartwheels down the beach until a gust of wind spins it into the ocean. In 192 coastal countries, this scenario plays out over and over again as discarded beverage bottles, food wrappers, toys and other bits of plastic make their way from estuaries, seashores and uncontrolled landfills to settle in the world’s seas.
How much mismanaged plastic waste is making its way from land to ocean has been a decades-long guessing game. Now, the University of Georgia’s Jenna Jambeck and her colleagues in the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis working group have put a number on the global problem.
Their study, reported in the Feb. 13 edition of the journal Science, found between 4.8 and 12.7 million metric tons of plastic entered the ocean in 2010 from people living within 50 kilometers of the coastline. That year, a total of 275 million metric tons of plastic waste was generated in those 192 coastal countries.
Read the full story in the New York Times.
Scientists who have reported that the Great Lakes are awash in tiny bits of plastic are raising new alarms about a little-noticed form of the debris turning up in sampling nets: synthetic fibers from garments, cleaning cloths and other consumer products.
Read the full story in The Guardian.
A failure to address the mountains of waste in the developing world will result in as much plastic in our oceans as fish, the head of Ocean Conservancy has warned.
Andreas Merkl, CEO of the Washington-based environmental NGO, said the combination in the developing world of a burgeoning middle class and low recycling rates will lead to an exponential rise in the amount of plastic washed out to sea.