Microbeads Entering Our Water Daily Could Cover 300 Tennis Courts

Read the full story in the Huffington Post.

Scientists are calling for a total ban on microbeads — the tiny plastic pieces used in soap, toothpaste and face wash for exfoliation — after an analysis estimated that 8 trillion of the beads wind up in aquatic habitats every day in the U.S. alone.

That’s enough to cover more than 300 tennis courts every day, according to a scientific opinion article published this month in the journal Environmental Science & Technology.

Microbeads: The Very Tiny Troublemakers

Read the full opinion piece in the New York Times.

The Great Lakes are being threatened by an invasion of tiny plastic orbs called microbeads, but lawmakers for one state that depends on this huge freshwater ecosystem have failed to do anything about it. That state is, of course, New York, where lawmakers this year sat on a good bill to ban these unnecessary bits of plastic.

That left local governments to try to do the state’s job by banning these plastic irritants, county by county.

Lego Makes Good on Sustainable Materials Pledge

Read the full story in Environmental Leader.

The Lego Group is making good on its promise to spend 1 billion Danish Krone ($150.5 million) to develop new sustainable materials for its plastic Lego toys and packaging materials. This includes the establishment of the Lego Sustainable Materials Centre in Billund, Denmark.

In a statement about Lego’s financial performance for the first half of 2015, the company says it has begun hiring engineers to develop alternatives to petroleum-based materials.

Ocean plastic plague threatens seabirds

Read the full story from Environmental News Network.

Already 60% of seabird species have plastic in their guts, often as much as 8% of their body weight. And with ocean plastic increasing exponentially, that figure will rise to 99% by 2050, threatening some birds’ survival. Unless we act.

Many of you may have already seen the photographs of albatross carcasses full of undigested plastic junk. But how representative is that of the wider issue facing seabirds?

To help answer that question, we carried out the first worldwide analysis of the threat posed by plastic pollution to seabird species worldwide.

Our study, published today in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, found that nearly 60% of all seabird species studied so far have had plastic in their gut.

Ban on plastic bags no sure bet for environment

Read the full commentary by Adam Minter.

When the city council in Austin, Texas, passed a single-use plastic shopping bag ban in 2013, it assumed environmental benefits would follow. The calculation was reasonable enough: Fewer single-use bags in circulation would mean less waste at city landfills.

Two years later, an assessment commissioned by the city finds that the ban is having an unintended effect — people are now throwing away heavy-duty reusable plastic bags at an unprecedented rate. The city’s good intentions have proven all too vulnerable to the laws of supply and demand.

Garbage ‘patch’ is much worse than believed, entrepreneur says

Read the full story at SFGate.

It is known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch — a mass of plastic floating debris estimated to be twice the size of Texas and concentrated between California and Hawaii.

But to Boyan Slat, the 21-year-old Dutch entrepreneur who is orchestrating what he envisions as the largest ocean cleanup effort in history, “patch” is far too gentle a term. He prefers “ticking time bomb.”

16 simple ways to reduce plastic waste

Read the full story at Mother Nature Network.

Plastic is found in virtually everything these days. Your food and hygiene products are packaged in it. Your car, phone and computer are made from it. And you might even chew on it daily in the form of gum. While most plastics are touted as recyclable, the reality is that they’re “downcycled.” A plastic milk carton can never be recycled into another carton — it can be made into a lower-quality item like plastic lumber, which can’t be recycled.

How big is our plastic problem? Of the 30 million tons of plastic waste generated in the U.S. in 2009, only 7 percent was recovered for recycling. This plastic waste ends up in landfills, beaches, rivers and oceans and contributes to such devastating problems as the Great Pacific Ocean Garbage Patch, a swirling vortex of garbage the size of a continent where plastic outnumbers plankton. Plus, most plastic is made from oil.

Luckily, there are simple steps you can take that will dramatically decrease the amount of plastic waste you generate.