Poland Spring pledges 100% recycled bottles by 2022

June 5, 2019 by  
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This week, Nestlé Waters North America promised that its Poland Spring brand would start using 100 percent recycled bottles by 2022. The announcement is part of Nestlé’s larger pledge to increase recycled bottle use and has the potential to significantly boost the recycled plastic industry. According to the $247 billion corporation, 25 percent of all its water products will use the recycled bottles by 2021, and 50 percent will use recycled bottles by 2050. The Poland Spring brand has a huge market share in the U.S. and will amount to a significant amount of recycled bottles used annually. Related: New report reveals 70 million metric tons of plastic burned worldwide each year “We spent a lot of time designing these bottles to ensure that they move efficiently and effectively through the recycling value web. We want the bottle back,” said chief sustainability officer David Tulauskas. Tulauskas also noted that because of discrepancies in recycling programs and compliance in different cities across the country, the recycled bottle program has been difficult to streamline and roll out. Cities with stricter recycling policies actually make the process more complex, because the recycled plastic buyer must rely on consumers taking the proper measures to clean the plastic and place it in the proper recycling stream. The buying power of Poland Spring will boost the confidence and dependability of recycled plastic producers. Without secured buyers, these facilities do not have the motivation nor reliable cash flow to increase production. Poland Spring’s interest and investment in the industry has the potential to increase the amount of food-grade, high-quality PET plastic produced, which is the type of plastic needed for bottles. “They need confidence that we’re going to buy from them for the long term to make sure that it’s worthwhile for them to make the investment,” Tulauskas explained to CNN . Last year, Americans used 50 billion plastic water bottles and only recycled 23 percent of them. That means that approximately $1 billion in recyclable plastic is wasted every year when it could be re-routed back to companies to quench the thirst for plastic next year. + Nestlé Via The Hill and CNN Image via Mike Mozart

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Poland Spring pledges 100% recycled bottles by 2022

New report reveals 70 million metric tons of plastic burned worldwide each year

May 21, 2019 by  
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A new report reveals the scale of the world’s plastic problem and the alarming amount of plastic that is burned. Despite the grave and well-documented consequences for human health, about 12 percent of all plastic in the U.S. is burned. In middle- and low-income countries without the infrastructure to recycle, plastic is burned at a much higher rate. According to the report , published by Tearfund, Fauna & Flora International, WasteAid and The Institute of Development Studies, a double-decker bus full of plastic is burned or dumped every single second. When calculated annually, that is equivalent to 70 million metric tons. Burning plastic releases toxic chemicals into the air that have been linked to heart disease, headache, nausea, rashes and damage to the kidney, liver and nervous system. In low- and middle-income countries without garbage facilities, the majority of trash is burned near homes — such as in the backyard — and poses direct threat to the inhabitants. In many cases, repeated exposure to the chemicals can lead to respiratory problems such as asthma and emphysema. Related: Microplastic rain — new study reveals microplastics are in the air In wealthier countries, new incinerator technology claims to burn trash with fewer direct health concerns. The negative health impacts of plastic are not new; in fact, this month the United Nations voted to list plastic as a hazardous waste material . Since the 1950s, 8.3 billion tons of plastic have been produced, and nearly half of that is only used once . This number is enormous but hard for many people to truly understand. According to National Geographic , this will be equivalent to the weight of 35,000 Empire State Buildings by 2050. But do these abstract numbers really help us put our problem into perspective? The first step is understanding the world’s addiction to plastic, but then specific actions must be taken. The American Chemistry Council, which contested the report’s results, argues that governments and companies need to enforce stricter requirements for packaging. Last year, major plastic producers formed the Alliance to End Plastic Waste , inclusive of Dow Chemical, ExxonMobil, Formosa Plastics Corp. and Procter & Gamble. The Alliance promised to invest $1.5 billion into the effort to reduce plastic’s impact on the environment. Via HuffPost Image via Stacie DePonte

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Ocean explorer finds plastic waste during worlds deepest dive

May 15, 2019 by  
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This May, American Victor Vescovo broke the standing record of the world’s deepest solo dive, venturing 7 miles into the Pacific Ocean’s Mariana Trench, where he discovered four potential new species as well as plastic waste and candy wrappers. Vescovo is a wealth equity investor with an interest in ocean exploration . He traveled in a high-tech submersible that can withstand enormous amounts of pressure from the 35,849-foot descent. In fact, the submarine is capable of withstanding the weight of “50 jumbo jets piled on top of a person,” according to the BBC . Related: Point Nemo, the most remote spot in the ocean, is plagued with plastic “It is almost indescribable how excited all of us are about achieving what we just did,” Vescovo told BBC. “This submarine and its mother ship, along with its extraordinarily talented expedition team, took marine technology to a ridiculously higher new level by diving — rapidly and repeatedly — into the deepest, harshest area of the ocean.” The mission was to collect data and video footage of what is thought to be the deepest ocean trench in the world. During his expedition, Vescovo also may have found a new crustacean as well as three other new species , including a relative of the sea cucumber. Samples of the new species will also be tested to see if they contain microplastics . The discovery of plastic in the farthest reaches of the world is disappointing, but not surprising given the scale of the plastic waste problem. It is predicted that by 2050, there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish. Data collection expeditions to the ocean trenches also contribute to increasing evidence that these deep sea depressions can store higher amounts of carbon than the rest of the ocean and therefore may play an important role in mitigating climate change . Via BBC and  Technology Review Image via Jessie Sgouros

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Can’t make the climate strikes? Here are a few tips on how students can live sustainably

May 2, 2019 by  
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More than ever, students are leading the charge in promoting sustainable living . Protesting is an effective method of getting the attention of lawmakers, but there are other things you can do to improve the environment outside of a picket line. From volunteering for a local clean-up effort to saying goodbye to single-use plastics, here is a quick guide on how students can incorporate sustainable living practices into their daily routine. Avoid Single-Use Plastics Going in and out of classes all day can make finding quality food difficult. Purchasing food on the go is a common way to deal with the everyday bustle of student life, but it usually results in large amounts of plastic waste . Related: How to teach children about climate change You can avoid contributing to the growing problem of plastic pollution by bringing your own food containers to class. That way, if you need to take the food with you then you have a reusable container on hand. Alternatively, you can also prepare your meals at home, which is better for the environment and your wallet. For shopping at the grocery store, you should consider investing in reusable bags. If you do not have room in your budget, you can always reuse old bags until they are no longer viable. Sustainable Dorm Supplies Purchasing eco-friendly products helps prevent harmful chemicals from entering our oceans and waterways. For the bathroom, look for toilet paper that is made from recycled materials and is bleach-free. You should also avoid body wash that contains microbeads, as they often pass through treatment plants unfiltered and end up in the water supply. When it comes to cleaners, look for natural products that do not feature harmful chemicals. These chemicals enter the waterways and can have devastating effects on marine wildlife . Volunteering If you cannot make it to a nearby protest, get in contact with a local environmental group and donate some of your time to their cause. There are plenty of green organizations throughout the country that will welcome you with open arms. Many of these organizations will work with students to promote sustainability in the education system and the experience is great to put on your resume. Many of these groups also organize large clean-up projects throughout the community. Not only does this have a positive effect on the environment , but it also enables you to get out and enjoy the outdoors. Some clean-up ideas include beach projects and waste removal along roadways. Recycling Recycling is one of the easiest ways you can contribute to a better environment. As a student, there are many things you can recycle throughout the school year. This includes most plastic items you encounter and all of your paper products. Your college should have at least one recycling bin on campus. If you cannot find one, contact the administration office and talk to them about installing one. Related: Go green in your bedroom with these sustainable decor picks Green Transportation Vehicle emissions are a growing problem in cities around the world. You can do your part in helping to curb air pollution by finding alternative ways to school. This includes getting involved in a ride-sharing program or taking your local bus to class. If you live on campus, consider using a bike to get around or walk when the weather is nice. Walking or biking is a great way to get in a quick workout and can help you save money in the long run. If you have to call an Uber or Lyft, consider selecting a vehicle that has low emissions . Paper Savings Computers may be taking over the world, but many college students still rely on paper for note-taking and homework assignments. Apart from recycling, make the most of your paper stock by writing on both sides when taking notes. You should also avoid making excess copies and always double check your work for errors before taking it to the printer. For best practices, consider using refillable binders instead of traditional notebooks. You should also be aware of excess paper use in other areas of your life. In the cafeteria, for instance, only take as many napkins as you need instead of large handfuls. Donating If you do not have a lot of time on your hands for volunteering or protesting, donating is a great way to participate in sustainable living. Local charities would love your monetary support, but there are other things you can donate as well. This includes giving away old clothes, furniture, computers, cell phones and even dishes. If you do have some extra cash to spare, keep track of every dollar you donate. When tax season comes around, you can deduct charitable donations, which will boost your tax return. While it does take some effort to practice sustainable living, doing so is critical if we want to preserve the environment for generations to come. Via  Eco Nation ,  Princeton Review Images via Shutterstock

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Can’t make the climate strikes? Here are a few tips on how students can live sustainably

The Phox V2 water filter fights plastic pollution

April 25, 2019 by  
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While water filters solve problems by cutting plastic waste and removing nasties from our drinks, they add to environmental woes by sending 100 million cartridges to landfills every year. That’s enough to fill 50 jumbo jets, according to the makers of Phox V2, a new filtration system with a reusable cartridge. The world is ready for this solution to plastic pollution, judging from Phox’s Kickstarter campaign being fully funded in just 34 hours. The campaign, which ends Monday, April 29, rewards supporters with Phox jugs and bottles. Young Glasgow-based entrepreneurs Scott Dickson and Paul McTaggart founded Phox in 2016. After 18 months of design work, their trials have paid off with the Kickstarter win. “Getting this support has been brilliant — it’s a real highlight for us,” Dickson told the Scotsman . Related: Ovie’s ‘Smarterware’ smart food storage aims to help reduce food waste The Phox V2 is a glass pitcher that fits in the fridge door. The top is made from recycled, food-safe, BPA-free plastic and the bottom has a rubber, non-slip base. The Phox V2 comes in carbon black, seal gray, arctic white or marine blue. The filter — the only part that needs to be changed out — is made with coconut shells fired to a high temperature to produce extremely absorbent activated carbon. This removes bad taste, odor and at least 90 percent of chlorine, copper, lead and mercury. There are two choices of filters: one cleans and softens water, the other also adds minerals for an alkaline pH. Phox is conscientious about packaging and shipping, too. Manufacturing its products in England cuts air miles. “Seventy to 80 percent of the product is designed, manufactured, packaged and distributed within 50 miles of our Charing Cross base, so all of the money raised is going to go toward making sure we can manufacture the product here in the U.K.,” said Dickson. Other leading water filtration systems are produced in China. Phox eschews plastic packaging. The team has designed filter replacement packages to be thin enough to fit through an average letterbox, so they can use regular mail and avoid repeated delivery attempts. The first batch of Kickstarter-funded products are slated for August delivery. After that, Phox aims to supply brick-and-mortar retailers as well as pursuing online sales. + Phox Images via Phox

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Researchers rush to link toxic chemical to health concerns

April 24, 2019 by  
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A new trend in research reflects a growing concern about the health impacts of a commonly used toxic chemical substance called PFAs (per- and polyfluoralkyl substances). The family of chemicals is pervasive in heat and water-resistant technologies– and is now found in soil, drinking water and even in human blood. “Essentially everyone has these compounds in our blood,” Linda Birnbaum, director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences told NPR . Related: Researchers find weedkiller ingredient Glyphosate in name brand beer and wine PFAs are valued for their resistant qualities and used in a variety of items, including food wrappers, umbrellas, tents, carpets and firefighting foams. PFAs are also used in important emerging and lifesaving technologies, including pacemakers, defibrillators, low-emission automobiles and solar panels . However, the same qualities that makes them attractive to manufacturers and consumers are also what wreaks havoc in the environment. Nicknamed the “forever chemical ” the substances have been found in lakes, rivers and drinking water reserves. Recent research also links the contaminant with serious health concerns. The first study to link PFAs to human health was conducted in 2005, when researchers discovered a connection between PFA emissions and health problems among communities in West Virginia and Ohio, such as kidney cancer and thyroid disease. Since then, there has been growing interest and funding among researchers to further explore this critical connection. Another study indicates that prevalence of PFA in the body may make people resistant to vaccines. No limits: unchecked chemical emissions The Environmental Protection Agency is responsible for setting limitations on potential toxic chemical use and emissions, but rarely conducts studies on new chemicals until a public health concern has been raised. Currently, there is no U.S. law that prohibits the sale of a new chemicals or mandates preliminary research on health impacts.  Even after health problems have been noticed, studies require long-term analysis to prove linkages and are often too slow to prevent serious consequences. Although the science of exactly how the toxic chemicals impact human cells is not fully understood, it is clear there is a connection between their abundance in the environment and problematic health symptoms. As a result, some states have decided to develop limits for PFA prevalence in drinking water , opting to seriously consider the warnings from initial studies in order to protect current and future generations. Via NPR Image via Shutterstock

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Plastic waste has met its match with the viral #Trashtag challenge

March 14, 2019 by  
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It is rare when a social media trend actually results in a physical change to the environment, especially when it comes to picking up plastic waste . But a new viral challenge has thousands of people from around the world coming together to clean up places that have become overrun with plastic. The new challenge, #trashtag, encourages people to clean up litter and share photos from before and after the clean-up job is over. So far, tens of thousands of individuals have participated in the social media challenge. These participants have cleaned up roads, parks, beaches and wilderness areas. The challenge has also increased awareness of important environmental issues, like how much plastic waste ends up in the trash. Related: China closes Mount Everest base camp after overwhelming trash problem reports While the challenge only recently went viral, it actually started a few years ago. A company called UCO Gear came up with the idea in 2015 to help with its wilderness protection program. The challenge did not catch on until this year, after a post on Facebook tagged “tired teens” in the photo. Since then, there have been well over 25,000 posts with #trashtag tagged, although it has a few other variations, such as #trashchallenge and #trashtagchallenge. Although it is great to see people cleaning up the environment in their free time, conservationists hope it will eventually lead to bigger changes. According to BBC , the director of Canada’s Ecology Action Centre (EAC), Mark Butler, hopes the hashtag gets people to understand why we need to eliminate single-use plastics altogether. “Getting plastic out of the environment is important,” Butler shared. “We need to do more than go behind the people that are littering and clean it up. We need to turn off the plastic tap.” Butler argued that if we do not start curbing our plastic use, then the clean-up job will never end. Given all of the photos we’ve seen from the trash challenge, Butler has a point. Hopefully, viral challenges like #trashtag will help initiate more lasting changes as we continue to deal with the problem of plastic pollution. Via BBC Image via Pacific Southwest Region 5

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Plastic waste has met its match with the viral #Trashtag challenge

Volvo creates the living seawall in Sydney to help with plastic pollution

January 25, 2019 by  
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With ocean habitats being degraded by plastic pollution and replaced with seawalls, more than half of the shoreline in Sydney, Australia , is now artificial. Scientists say that the amount of plastic waste in the ocean is so massive, removing it all simply isn’t possible. So, instead of hosting more beach clean-ups or tearing down seawalls, Volvo is taking a more modern, creative approach to the problem — a Living Seawall. Volvo has teamed up with the Sydney Institute of Marine Science and Reef Design Lab to create the Living Seawall. The Living Seawall is designed to recreate the structure of native mangrove trees and provide a habitat for marine life , according to the company’s website. The automaker also claims that Living Seawall will aid biodiversity and keep the water clean by attracting filter-feeding organisms that can absorb and filter out pollutants such as heavy metals. Related: Nestle ditching plastic straws, water bottles to reduce plastic waste Volvo’s commitment to sustainability goes far beyond the Living Seawall and Volvo Ocean Race, a beach clean-up initiative, as the company is also in the process of removing all single-use plastics from offices, cafeterias and events and replacing them with sustainable, eco-friendly options by the end of the year. It also has the goal of “putting 1 million electric cars on the road by 2025” and wants its manufacturing operations to be carbon neutral.  Volvo says that when it designs its cars, reduction of environmental impact is a top priority. The sales revenue from the Volvo V90 Cross Country is what funds the Volvo Ocean Race and Science Program, which measures ocean microplastics levels with sensors on boats. Volvo said it will continue to support research and thrive with its “radical and divergent style of thinking” that isn’t just what the company focuses on, but rather what defines it. + Volvo Images via Volvo

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Study finds microplastics in sea turtles around the world

December 12, 2018 by  
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The microplastics problem in the oceans has made its way to sea turtles in a big way. A new study from researchers at the University of Exeter and Plymouth Marine Laboratory along with Greenpeace Research Laboratories has found microplastics in the guts of every single turtle they tested — a total of 102 sea turtles. The researchers tested more than 100 sea turtles from all seven species and three different oceans , and they were looking for synthetic particles less than 5 mm in length. The most common thing the team found were fibers, which most likely came from clothing, tires, cigarette filters and fishing equipment. Related: Microplastics have made their way into human poop “The effect of these particles on turtles is unknown,” said lead author Emily Duncan from the University of Exeter’s Center for Ecology and Conservation. “Their small size means they can pass through the gut without causing a blockage, as is frequently reported with larger plastic fragments.” Duncan added that future work should focus on the effects of microplastics in aquatic organisms , and researchers should look for possible contaminants, bacteria or viruses as well as how the microplastics affect turtles on a cellular level. The researchers found more than 800 synthetic particles in the turtles , but since they only tested part of the gut, they believe the total number of particles could be 20 times higher. They don’t know how the turtles ingest the particles, but they think the sources are polluted seawater and the digestion of polluted prey or plants. Professor Brendan Godley, the senior author of the study, said that the ingestion of microplastics isn’t the biggest threat to sea turtles at the moment, but it is a clear sign that we need to do a better job governing global waste . Penelope Lindeque from Plymouth Marine Laboratory said that during their work over the years, researchers have found microplastics in all of the marine animals they have studied. This turtle study is just more evidence that we need to reduce the amount of plastic waste, so we can maintain clean and healthy oceans for future generations. + University of Exeter Image via Jeremy Bishop

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‘Single-use’ is announced as the Word of the Year 2018

November 8, 2018 by  
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Collins Dictionary has announced its choice for 2018 Word of the Year — single-use. This term describes items, often plastic, that are made to be used just once before they are thrown away. The frequent use of these items has been blamed for damaging the environment and negatively affecting the food chain. Since 2013, use of the word has increased fourfold with a rise in public awareness thanks to news stories, images of plastic items adrift in oceans and the global campaign to reduce the proliferation of single-use items, including the infamous plastic straw. Collins Dictionary selects the word of the year after its lexicographers monitor the 4.5-billion-word Collins Corpus, which is an analytical database that contains written material from websites, newspapers, magazines and books published around the world. The Collins Corpus database also includes words from spoken material on TV and radio, plus everyday conversations. Related: Plastic straws are a thing of the past, but which reusable straw is best for the future? After the lexicographers monitor the Collins Corpus, they create a list of new and notable words that reflect our ever-changing culture. Things that rose to the top this year included environmental issues, political movements, dance trends and technology. Other words on the shortlist included ‘floss,’ a dance where you twist your hips in one direction while swinging your arms with fists closed in the opposite direction, made popular by the game Fortnight; ‘VAR,’ or video assistant referee, which became popular in 2018 after being used in the FIFA World Cup; ‘gammon,’ a red-faced, angry person who is the opposite of a “snowflake”; and ‘plogging,’ or picking up litter while jogging, which has become successful following the increase in awareness of humanity’s impact on the environment. Collins ended up choosing single-use because of the global movement to kick the addiction to disposable products and the increase in awareness of how people’s habits and behaviors impact our world. + Collins Dictionary Image via Jonathan Chng

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