Giant Garbage Patches Help Redefine Ocean Boundaries

Read the full story from the American Institute of Physics (AIP).

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is an area of environmental concern between Hawaii and California where the ocean surface is marred by scattered pieces of plastic, which outweigh plankton in that part of the ocean and pose risks to fish, turtles and birds that eat the trash. Scientists believe the garbage patch is but one of at least five, each located in the center of large, circular ocean currents called gyres that suck in and trap floating debris.

Researchers from the University of New South Wales (UNSW), in Sydney, Australia, have created a new model that could help determine who’s to blame for each garbage patch – a difficult task for a system as complex and massive as the ocean. The researchers describe the model in a paper published in the journal Chaos, from AIP Publishing…

The article, “How well-connected is the surface of the global ocean?” is authored by Gary Froyland, Robyn M. Stuart, and Erik van Sebille. It was published in the journal Chaos: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Nonlinear Science on September 2, 2014 (DOI: 10.1063/1.4892530). It can be accessed at:

Direct Transformation of Edible Vegetable Waste into Bioplastics

Ilker S. Bayer, Susana Guzman-Puyol, José Alejandro Heredia-Guerrero, Luca Ceseracciu, Francesca Pignatelli, Roberta Ruffilli, Roberto Cingolani, and Athanassia Athanassiou (2014). “Direct Transformation of Edible Vegetable Waste into Bioplastics.”
Macromolecules 47 (15), 5135-5143. DOI: 10.1021/ma5008557

Abstract: Bioplastics with a wide range of mechanical properties were directly obtained from industrially processed edible vegetable and cereal wastes. As model systems, we present bioplastics synthesized from wastes of parsley and spinach stems, rice hulls, and cocoa pod husks by digesting in trifluoroacetic acid (TFA), casting, and evaporation. In this way, amorphous cellulose-based plastics are formed. Moreover, many other natural elements present in these plants are carried over into the bioplastics rendering them with many exceptional thermo-physical properties. Here, we show that, due to their broad compatibility with cellulose, amorphous cellulose can be naturally plasticized with these bioplastics by simply mixing during processing. Comparison of their mechanical properties with that of various petroleum based synthetic polymers indicates that these bioplastics have equivalent mechanical properties to the nondegrading ones. This opens up possibilities for replacing some of the nondegrading polymers with the present bioplastics obtained from agro-waste.

What We Know About Entanglement and Ingestion: New NOAA reports sum up the state of science on entanglement and ingestion

The NOAA Marine Debris Program, in partnership with the National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science, has published reports that assess the current state of science on two marine debris impacts: ingestion and entanglement.

The reports examine existing scientific literature to determine what we know about these impacts, as well as gaps in knowledge and how they may be addressed.


Entanglement of Marine Species in Marine Debris with an Emphasis on Species in the United States
From reports in the United States, at least 115 marine species are impacted by entanglement, including mammals, turtles, birds, fish, and crabs. Most marine debris entanglement reports involved pinnipeds, particularly northern fur seals and Hawaiian monk seals, as well as sea turtles. Worldwide, at least 200 species are impacted.

Occurrence of Health Effects of Anthropogenic Debris Ingested by Marine Organisms
An estimated 26 marine mammal species, including toothed whales, manatees, and multiple seal species, as well as all sea turtle species have been confirmed to ingest marine debris. Over one-third of sea bird species ingest plastic. Research to-date has characterized the types, sources and impacts of ingestible debris, yet the overall effects on animals remain poorly understood.

23 Creative Ways To Reuse Old Plastic Bottles

Read the full post at Bored Panda.

DIY recycling projects are always cool, especially when you can turn your trash into something new and useful. We’ve written posts about ways to recycle before, but it turns out there’s so much that you can do with recycle plastic bottles that they deserved their own post.

The PET plastic that most plastic beverage bottles are made of is a fairly useful material – it’s resilient, flexible, transparent and food safe. As such, there are probably countless applications for these bottles that will give them second lives. These 23 are a great place to start, but can you think of your own as well?

Biodegradable Plastic Technology Moves Forward

Read the full story at Environmental Leader.

Green chemistry company Carbios says it has achieved a key milestone in the development of its controlled biodegradation process for disposable soft plastics by obtaining completely biodegradable plastic material in domestic conditions.

This plastic material issued from an oil-based polymer and an enzyme has a controlled kinetic that loses 50 percent of its mass in 15 days and completely biodegrades in less than three months.

The Cornish beaches where Lego keeps washing up

Read the full story from the BBC.

A container filled with millions of Lego pieces fell into the sea off Cornwall in 1997. But instead of remaining at the bottom of the ocean, they are still washing up on Cornish beaches today – offering an insight into the mysterious world of oceans and tides.