Read the full story at Vox.
The internet abounds with articles about massive “islands” of plastic floating around in the middle of the ocean. This narrative conjures up images of trash piles congregated in certain locations, leaving the rest of the sea clear of debris.
But the reality is much grimmer.
A map from New Zealand–based data visualization firm Dumpark, reminds us that the ocean’s plastic is not centralized, but rather is universally prevalent in tiny, confetti-like pieces.
Read the full story in Shareable.
Plastic has been described as a lot of things, but precious? That’s a new one. However, one team in the Netherlands is working to change how we view plastic, taking it from a waste product that is clogging up our oceans, landfills and animals, and reframing it as a valuable resource.
Precious Plastic brings plastic recycling down to the household level by putting recycling tools into the hands of everyday people rather than just industry giants. As the website states, you can create “your own little plastic recycling workshop.”
Read the full story from Environmental Leader.
Automotive Recycling: Devalued is now Revalued says the opportunities for recycled plastics in cars are abundant. Each year in the US, about 12 million to 15 million vehicles are scrapped with an increasing amount of those vehicles comprised of more and more plastic components and parts. Recycling of post-industrial plastics from cars is already happening at automotive plants, as manufacturers have become leaders in managing their scrap to reduce waste.
Read the full story in Fast Company.
Maybe it’s not surprising that a city that’s experimenting with building roads out of recycled plastic is also building plastic bridges.
Rotterdam, the second-largest city in the Netherlands, is filled with canals and split in half by a river—and along with all of that water, it has 850 bridges for pedestrians and cyclists. As the bridges wear out, the city is replacing them with plastic instead of steel, concrete, or wood.
Using fiber-reinforced polymer, a lightweight plastic, makes it possible to install a pedestrian bridge in as little as an hour. “It’s a light material, making it really easy to put it out there,” says Dave Geensen, project manager for the city. “A normal wooden bridge or steel bridge will take up to three weeks of construction. With this bridge, in the morning the truck with the bridge came, and in the afternoon, before lunchtime they had already left. The bridge was there.”
Read the full story from PBS Newshour.
In 2014, humans produced 311 million metric tons of plastic — that equals about 3,500 of the world’s largest aircraft carriers. In the environment, this plastic can take decades to break down, and some have wondered if nature would be forced to adapt. A new study argues yes, and on one of the smallest levels possible.
A plastic-eating species of bacteria has been uncovered by researchers in Japan. This microbe munches on one type of plastic, polyethylene terephthalate, or PET. PET is one of the most abundant forms of plastic on Earth and typically takes five to 10 years to naturally degrade. This bacteria could break it down six weeks. This discovery, scientists say, could play a key role in how we rid the world of this insidious plastic.
Read the full story from Stanford University.
Stanford scientists have discovered a novel way to make plastic from carbon dioxide (CO2) and inedible plant material, such as agricultural waste and grasses. Researchers say the new technology could provide a low-carbon alternative to plastic bottles and other items currently made from petroleum.
“Our goal is to replace petroleum-derived products with plastic made from CO2,” said Matthew Kanan, an assistant professor of chemistry at Stanford. “If you could do that without using a lot of non-renewable energy, you could dramatically lower the carbon footprint of the plastics industry.”
Kanan and his Stanford colleagues described their results in the March 9 online edition of the journal Nature.
Read the full story at Earth911.
Did you know that Americans use 50 billion plastic water bottles each year, with a recycling rate of only 23%? From an environmental standpoint, it brings up numerous concerns. Kicking our bottled water habit can conserve resources, but what are we going to do with the billions of plastic bottles that are recycled? How do we boost stubbornly low plastic bottle recycling rates?
Luckily Patagonia has been looking at this issue for decades and has made considerable progress in turning plastic trash into polyester fabric for apparel. The company has found a way to actually upcycle plastic bottles, finding a good use for this waste stream by turning it into a higher value goods.