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Month: January 2018
A third of coral reefs entangled with plastic
Plastic is one of the biggest threats to the future of coral reefs after ocean warming, say scientists.
More than 11 billion items of plastic were found on a third of coral reefs surveyed in the Asia-Pacific region.
This figure is predicted to increase to more than 15 billion by 2025.
Plastic raises by 20-fold the risk of disease outbreaks on coral reefs, according to research. Plastic bags, bottles and rice sacks were among the items found.
“Plastic is one of the biggest threats in the ocean at the moment, I would say, apart from climate change,” said Dr Joleah Lamb of Cornell University in Ithaca, US.
“It’s sad how many pieces of plastic there are in the coral reefs …if we can start targeting those big polluters of plastic, hopefully we can start reducing the amount that is going on to these reefs.”
Infected coral snagged in plastic. Photo: Joleah Lamb. Plastic floating over corals. Photo: Kathryn Berry
More than 275 million people rely on coral reefs for food, coastal protection, tourism income, and cultural importance.
It’s thought that plastic allows diseases that prey on the marine invertebrates that make-up coral reefs to flourish. Branching or finger-like forms of corals are most likely to get entangled in plastic debris.
These are important habitats for fish and fisheries, the scientists say.
“A lot of times we come across big rice sacks or draping plastic bags,” said Dr Lamb, who led the study.
“What we do find is these corals with a lot of complexity like branches and finger-like corals will become eight times more likely to be entangled in these types of plastics.”
In the study, published in the journal Science, international researchers surveyed more than 150 reefs from four countries in the Asia-Pacific region between 2011 and 2014.
Plastic was found on one-third of the coral reefs surveyed. Reefs near Indonesia were loaded with most plastic, while Australian reefs showed the lowest concentration. Thailand and Myanmar were in the middle.
“The country’s estimated amount of mismanaged plastics – so the way they deal with their plastic waste – was a strong predictor of how much we would see on the reef,” said Dr Lamb.
Plastic debris on the beach in Sulawesi, Indonesia. Photo: Joleah Lamb
Coral reefs face many threats. Coral bleaching is caused by unusually warm water. Coral polyps loose algae from their tissues, which drains them of their colour. They may recover if temperature changes are reversed in a reasonably short time, but this process can take many years.
In the case of diseases, organisms attack coral, leading to likely death. Previous research has found that plastic debris can stress coral through blocking out light and oxygen, thereby giving pathogens a chance to take hold.
Based on projections of plastic waste going into the ocean, the researchers suggest that the number of plastic items snagged on Asia-Pacific corals may increase from 11.1 billion to 15.7 billion plastic items by 2025.
An estimated 4.8 to 12.7 million tonnes of plastic waste enter the ocean in a single year.
More than three-quarters of this plastic is thought to originate on land.
Featured image: Plastic bottle wedged in the coral reef. Photo: Kathryn Berry
A third of coral reefs ‘entangled with plastic’
EU declares war on plastic waste, in particular single-use plastics
Brussels targets single-use plastics in an urgent clean-up plan that aims to make all packaging reusable or recyclable by 2030.
The EU is waging war against plastic waste as part of an urgent plan to clean up Europe’s act and ensure that every piece of packaging on the continent is reusable or recyclable by 2030.
Following China’s decision to ban imports of foreign recyclable material, Brussels on Tuesday launched a plastics strategy designed to change minds in Europe, potentially tax damaging behaviour, and modernise plastics production and collection by investing €350m (£310m) in research.
Speaking to the Guardian and four other European newspapers, the vice-president of the commission, Frans Timmermans, said Brussels’ priority was to clamp down on “single-use plastics that take five seconds to produce, you use it for five minutes and it takes 500 years to break down again”.
In the EU’s sights, Timmermans said, were throw-away items such as drinking straws, “lively coloured” bottles that do not degrade, coffee cups, lids and stirrers, cutlery and takeaway packaging.
The former Dutch diplomat told the Guardian: “If we don’t do anything about this, 50 years down the road we will have more plastic than fish in the oceans … we have all the seen the images, whether you watch [the BBC’s] Blue Planet, whether you watch the beaches in Asian countries after storms.
“If children knew what the effects are of using single-use plastic straws for drinking sodas, or whatever, they might reconsider and use paper straws or no straws at all.
“We are going to choke on plastic if we don’t do anything about this. How many millions of straws do we use every day across Europe? I would have people not use plastic straws any more. It only took me once to explain to my children. And now … they go looking for paper straws, or don’t use straws at all. It is an issue of mentality.”
He added: “[One] of the challenges we face is to explain to consumers that arguably some of the options in terms of the colour of bottles you can buy will be more limited than before. But I am sure that if people understand that you can’t buy that lively green bottle, it will have a different colour, but it can be recycled, people will buy into this.”
Plastic waste on the shore of the Thames Estuary in Cliffe, Kent. Photograph: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images
. . . The EU wants 55% of all plastic to be recycled by 2030 and for member states to reduce the use of bags per person from 90 a year to 40 by 2026.
An additional €100m is being made available on top of current spending to research better designs, durability and recyclability and EU member states will be put under an obligation to “monitor and reduce their marine litter”.
The commission said it will promote easy access to tap water on the streets of Europe to reduce demand for bottled water, and they will provide member states with additional guidance on how to improve the sorting and collection of recyclable plastic by consumers.
The EU’s executive is also to propose new clearer labelling for plastic packaging so consumers are clear about their recyclability, and there are plans to ban the addition of microplastics to cosmetics and personal care products, a move that has already been taken by the UK government.
New port reception facilities will seek to streamline waste management to ensure less gets dumped in the oceans under a directive already published.
“More and more it is becoming a health problem because it is degrading, going to little chips, fish are eating it and it is coming back to our dinner table,” said European Commission vice president Jyrki Katainen on Tuesday.
. . . Every year, Europeans generate 25m tonnes of plastic waste, but less than 30% is collected for recycling. Across the world, plastics make up 85% of beach litter.
Featured image: A Risso’s dolphin entangled in a fishing line and plastic bags in Sri Lanka. Brussels’ plan includes investing €350m in research to modernise plastics production and collection. Photograph: Andrew Sutton/eco2.com/Central Studio
SEE FULL ARTICLE at: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/jan/16/eu-declares-war-on-plastic-waste-2030
When you land in Rwanda, your luggage is checked for plastic bags.
When you land in Rwanda, your luggage is checked, not for guns or drugs, but for plastic bags. Rwanda banned plastic bags in 2008. Ordinary citizens had little problem with this ban, but industry complained. In time every understood that Rwanda gained more from banning plastic bags rather than keeping them.
10 years free from plastic bags. Read more: http://bit.ly/2FfhZMV
Plastic microbeads ban enters force in UK
Plastic microbeads, he tiny beads which harm marine life, can no longer be used in cosmetics and personal care products in the UK, after a long-promised ban came into effect on January 9, 2018. The ban initially bars the manufacture of such products and a ban on sales will follow in July.
Thousands of tonnes of plastic microbeads from products such as exfoliating face scrubs and toothpastes wash into the sea every year. Photograph: Hennel/Alamy Stock Photo
Thousands of tonnes of plastic microbeads from products such as exfoliating face scrubs and toothpastes wash into the sea every year, where they harm wildlife and can ultimately be eaten by people. The UK government first pledged to ban plastic microbeads in September 2016, following a US ban in 2015.
The huge problem of plastic pollution choking the oceans has gained a high profile with recent revelations that there are five trillion pieces of plastic floating in the world’s seas and that the debris has reached the most remote parts of the oceans, Microbeads are a small but significant part of this which campaigners argued was the easiest to prevent.
. . . Pressure is now mounting for action on plastic bottles – a million are bought every second around the world and they make up a third of the plastic litter in the seas. In December, the UK’s environmental audit committee (EAC) of MPs called for a deposit return scheme, which has successfully increased recycling rates in other countries.
Mary Creagh MP, EAC chair, said: “The microbead ban is a step in the right direction, but much more needs to be done. Since we called for a ban, my committee has also recommended the deposit return scheme, a latte levy for plastic-lined coffee cups and reforms to make producers responsible for their packaging. We look forward to hearing the government’s response.” . . .
By Damian Carrington, Environmental Editor, The Guardian
January 9, 2018
READ FULL ARTICLE AT:
How to make edible utensils that you can eat after you use
Make you own edible utentsils – spoons, knives and forks – at home:
HOMEMADE EDIBLE UTENSILS
– 3.5 cups of all-purpose flour (Note: This is a highly simplified version of Bakeys utensils, which are made with a proprietary blend of millet, rice and wheat flours)
– 1 cup of water
– 1 tsp of salt
*You could also get creative and add in your favorite herbs and spices so that your cutlery complements the flavors of your meal.
– rolling pin
– small knife
– lined baking sheet
– foil or metal spoons
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
Pour your water into a medium-sized bowl and gradually add in your flour until the mixture is so thick that you can no longer stir it.
Transfer your doughball to a flour-dusted surface and knead it for 1 minute.
Roll your dough out into a thin, 1/4″-thick sheet.
Cut out your utensils using the methods I explain in the DIY video above.
Place your utensils on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake for about 30 minutes or until they are golden brown.
Let your edible utensils cool off for a few minutes, and then use them to get your eat on!
Okay, so they aren’t the prettiest peas in the pod, but they do have a certain “rustic “appeal, wouldn’t you say?
Our edible forks passed the spaghetti test with flying colors.
…and even held up well with hot soup. It took about three hours for the spoons to get soggy. And that actually made them taste even better.
The only unsuccessful pieces of edible cutlery were the knives. They were able to cut through soft foods like veggies and soft cheeses, but failed at slicing through tougher foods like this soy patty.
We hope you enjoyed this recipe, and that it makes you think twice about using plastic utensils from now on.
SEE FULL ARTICLE AND VIDEO AT: https://inhabitat.com/how-to-make-edible-utensils-that-you-can-eat-after-you-use-them-video/
By Yuka Yoneda, inhabitat.com, January 25, 2017
Students in Tokyo and New York connect to help reduce plastic going into the oceans
Young students connect across the world to work on a joint project to help reduce the amount of plastic and other garbage entering the oceans – the North Pacific for Tokyo and the Atlantic for New York. Keeping our oceans clean is a global effort.
Watch elementary school children from Tokyo and New York work together to clean up their cities and keep marine litter from spreading. Watch the full video here:
How Much Plastic do Seabirds Eat?
90% of seabirds now have plastic in their stomachs. Unless we drastically reduce the flow of plastic entering the ocean, by 2050, 99% of seabirds will have plastic in them. For example. plastic debris can make up to 15% of a Shearwater’s body weight. For an 80 km human, that would be 12 kg. Imagine carrying 12 kg of plastic in your stomach!
“That straw you used for one drink, the spoon you used to stir your coffee, and then threw in the trash… will be around as long as the Roman coliseum has been standing. From the time Jesus Christ died, until this moment, is the time span that your “disposable” item will be polluting he earth. Is the 30 seconds of use it worth it? Just THINK ABOUT stuff before you go to grab it. Ask yourself, do I need to use this, or can I skip it this time?” Michelle Miller