Global population buys one million plastic bottles every single minute

July 3, 2017 by  
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We’re drowning in plastic bottles . You already know plastic water bottle use – and their disposal or lack thereof – is a worldwide dilemma, but new statistics released by The Guardian reveal just how staggering the issue has become. Every minute humans purchase one million plastic bottles, consuming nearly 500 billion a year. And while it’s true many of these bottles can be recycled , it’s becoming harder for us to keep up with the sheer volume of trash that needs recycling, and a great deal of it lands up polluting our oceans . In 2016 humans bought over 480 billion plastic water bottles. But that’s only the beginning of the bad news. Less than half of those 480 billion bottles were collected for recycling. And a mere seven percent of those found a second life as new bottles. What happened to the rest? You guessed it: they’re littering our oceans and landfills . And estimates from Euromonitor International indicate their use will only increase, to 583.5 billion by 2021. Related: Plastic waste pop-up pavilion rethinks recycling in the Netherlands Surfers Against Sewage chief executive Hugo Tagholm told The Guardian, “The plastic pollution crisis rivals the threat of climate change …Current science shows that plastics cannot be usefully assimilated into the food chain . Where they are ingested they carry toxins that work their way on to our dinner plates.” Plastic is already showing up in our food, according to recent studies. Scientists at Belgium’s Ghent University found people who eat seafood unwittingly consume 11,000 tiny plastic pieces yearly. Researchers at Plymouth University in England discovered plastic in one third of fish caught in the United Kingdom. According to The Guardian, plastic was first popularized in the 1940’s – but much of the material manufactured then is still around today because plastic takes hundreds of years at best to break down. These bottles could be comprised of 100 percent recycled plastic , but many brands haven’t made the switch because they prefer the shiny look of traditional plastic. And many companies have fought against a tax on single-use bottles. But a similar tax on plastic bags has been quite successful: England’s five pound plastic bag tax has resulted in usage of the polluting bags plummeting by 85 percent . Via The Guardian Images via Wikimedia Commons and Emilian Robert Vicol on Flickr

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Global population buys one million plastic bottles every single minute

Artist recycles old typewriters into beautiful guns

July 3, 2017 by  
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The Art of War takes on new meaning in Canadian artist Eric Nado’s evocative typewriter-guns. Inspired by the old adage “the pen is mightier than the sword,” these beautiful and futuristic Typewriter Guns are fully recycled from colorful vintage typewriters. These powerful pieces explore the impact of words, over arms, in shaping history. Nado’s reconstructive artworks are crafted with all original parts of vintage typewriters, including brands such as Underwood and Royal. Though startlingly realistic, these steampunk-esque guns are non-functional. The assemblage artist has also worked with other mediums, most notably in his Seamstress Series where he transforms vintage sewing machines in sculptures reminiscent of workingwomen of the post-war era. Related: Fascinating Sculptures Made from Recycled Typewriter Parts In an interview with Creators , Nado said he was motivated by his childhood memories of playing with his mother’s typewriter. “The sound of the keys evoked, for me, the sound of guns going off. It is this memory that initiated in me, years later, a new obsession, fueled by what were now years of experience in technical manifestations of art,” he said. “I wondered, could it be possible to transform these evocative machines into representations of a gun arsenal? My intuition was that it could be done and the objective was to do so by deconstructing and reconstructing solely the pieces of one typewriter at a time, making each and every gun an art piece with a history in itself.” + Eric Nado Via Creators Images via Eric Nado

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Artist recycles old typewriters into beautiful guns

New study reveals plastic pollution in the Antarctic is 5x worse than expected

June 19, 2017 by  
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We know about plastic pollution in the Pacific Ocean , and even in the Arctic Ocean . But scientists thought the Antarctic was relatively free of that particular type of pollution until a recent study from the University of Hull , Científica del Sur University , and the British Antarctic Survey . Researchers discovered the levels of microplastics in the area are much greater than expected. Microplastic levels in the Antarctic are five times greater than anticipated, according to the international team. Microplastics are those tiny particles less than five millimeters in diameter found in personal care items like toothpaste and shampoo, but they can also come from clothing fibers or be created as larger pieces of plastic in the ocean break down. Related: One of the world’s most remote islands is also the most polluted The researchers found the plastic around the Antarctic continent and in the Southern Ocean , which is around 8.5 million square miles large. They think plastic originating outside the area may be coming in over the Antarctic Circumpolar Current, which scientists in the past considered nearly impassible. University of Hull scientist Catherine Waller, lead author on a study published this year in Science of the Total Environment , said the ecosystem of the Antarctic is very fragile, and the area was thought to be isolated. It’s populated with krill that might eat the microplastics, and in turn be consumed by larger marine mammals like whales . Co-author Claire Waluda of the British Antarctic Survey said in a statement, “We have monitored the presence of large plastic items in Antarctica for over 30 years. While we know that bigger pieces of plastic can be ingested by seabirds or cause entanglements in seals, the effects of microplastics on marine animals in the Southern Ocean are as yet unknown.” The scientists called for urgent international monitoring of the plastic in the Antarctic. Via British Antarctic Survey Images via Catherine Waller and Claire Waluda

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New study reveals plastic pollution in the Antarctic is 5x worse than expected

Will the world’s 9 biggest seafood companies help save the oceans?

June 19, 2017 by  
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Cargill, Thai Union Group among “keystone companies” with about $30 billion in revenue pledging to fight illegal fishing, plastic pollution and climate change.

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Will the world’s 9 biggest seafood companies help save the oceans?

Will the world’s 9 biggest seafood companies help save the oceans?

June 19, 2017 by  
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Cargill, Thai Union Group among “keystone companies” with about $30 billion in revenue pledging to fight illegal fishing, plastic pollution and climate change.

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Will the world’s 9 biggest seafood companies help save the oceans?

Norwegian billionaire funds world’s largest yacht to scoop up plastic

May 16, 2017 by  
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Norwegian billionaire Kjell Inge Røkke has profited from offshore drilling . But now the businessman, who started as a fisherman, wants to give back with a colossal yacht for marine research . The vessel will be able to scoop up around five tons of plastic every day, and then melt it down – all in yet another private effort to help clean up the ocean . Røkke, who’s worth around $2.6 billion , owns almost 67 percent of shipping and offshore drilling conglomerate Aker ASA . But now he’s contracted a 595-foot Research Expedition Vessel (REV) to be built by VARD and designed by superyacht designer Espen Oeino . Scientists and marine researchers will be invited aboard to study and innovate around issues like climate change , overfishing, plastic pollution, and extraction, according to owner Rosellinis Four-10 , a subsidiary of the Røkke family company TRG. Related: The Ocean Cleanup raises $21.7 million to begin ridding the Pacific Ocean of plastic Rosellinis Four-10 will collaborate with none other than World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Norway , who will manage the ship. Aboard, scientists will have access to laboratory space, sea and air drones, an auditorium, two helipads, and an autonomous underwater vehicle. 60 scientists and 40 crew could travel aboard the immense ship. According to Yacht Harbour, the REV will be largest yacht in the world – it will narrowly beat out the 592-foot Azzam yacht rumored to be owned by a member of the Abu Dhabi royal family. You may be wondering about the carbon footprint of such a massive ship. According to VARD , environmental performance was important in the vessel’s design. The REV will be equipped with an “energy recovery rudder system, medium speed engines, a direct drive diesel-electric propulsion system with battery package, and an exhaust cleaning system.” An energy management system will also help the crew lessen the REV’s carbon footprint. Røkke told Oslo’s Aftenposen publication, “I want to give back to society the bulk of what I’ve earned. This ship is a part of it…sea covers 70 percent of Earth’s surface and much is not researched.” He’s given WWF Norway total independence over the REV’s mission. WWF Norway Secretary General Nina Jensen told Aftenposten they may disagree over oil, and the organization is willing to challenge Røkke when they disagree, “but in this project we will meet to collectively make a big difference in the environmental struggle.” The REV should be ready to go around 2020. + Rosellinis Four-10 Via Time Money and Yacht Harbour Images via VARD

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Norwegian billionaire funds world’s largest yacht to scoop up plastic

Redesigned Ocean Cleanup arrays to start scooping up Pacific garbage patch within a year

May 11, 2017 by  
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The Ocean Cleanup  just made a huge announcement from Werkspoorkathedraal , an exhibition in the Netherlands. CEO Boyan Slat  revealed exciting new  design changes to The Ocean Cleanup Array , which will enable the system to be more durable and collect more plastic . They once estimated their array could clean up 42 percent of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch in 10 years – now with their groundbreaking new arrays, they will be able to scoop up 50 percent of the patch’s plastic just five years. Even more exciting, deployment will start within the next 12 months – two years earlier than expected. In a presentation titled “The Next Phase,” Slat detailed their progress from the time he began The Ocean Cleanup around four years ago to today, and unveiled their plans for the future. He said one of their main design challenges was how to tether the array to the seabed. But then they realized a tether might not be their best option. Following their core principle of working with nature , they took the idea one step further. Slat put it this way: “To catch the plastic, act like the plastic.” Related: The Ocean Cleanup raises $21.7 million to begin ridding the Pacific Ocean of plastic What does that mean? Well, an anchor attaches to the cleanup array, and effectively tethers the array not to the seabed but to a deep water layer. The system still moves slower than plastic, but can now drift with the ocean currents. The array is then free to rotate and orient itself in the direction from which the plastic is coming to scoop up even more. The vast breakthrough in design also enables the array to be more survivable; drifting with the currents means it doesn’t have to withstand the full force of the ocean. So the array acts like plastic – floating through the oceans – to catch the polluting material. The Ocean Cleanup will now deploy a fleet of smaller arrays instead of one massive system. Slat pointed out this will be easier to fund; it will still cost several hundred million dollars, by his estimate, but they can gradually scale up the cleanup process array by array. Slat said in his talk, “Four years ago when I founded The Ocean Cleanup, everyone told me that there was no way to clean up what’s already out there, and the only thing you could do is avoid making it worse. But to me, that was just such an uninspiring message. Don’t we all want a future that is better than the present? And now, we are able to show, with data, that we can actually make things better again. We can do this. We must do this. We will do this.” Parts of the system are already in production, according to Slat, who unveiled some of the newly-designed anchors at the event. Slat said they’d made a promise to start cleaning up the Great Pacific Garbage Patch by 2020. He said they wouldn’t be able to keep that promise. Instead, they’ll now be deploying the first cleanup system in the Pacific Ocean in the next 12 months. + The Ocean Cleanup Images via screenshot

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Redesigned Ocean Cleanup arrays to start scooping up Pacific garbage patch within a year

Affordable chandi gar homes made with recycled plastic bricks pop up in a matter of hours

September 9, 2016 by  
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People living in Karachi, Pakistan generate 12,000 metric tons of trash every day. To deal with the issue, many burn the garbage, which comes with a slew of environmental and health hazards. Nargis Latif, a local environmentalist, decided to do something about the burgeoning plastic waste in particular, transforming it into bricks that can be used to build homes ” in just a matter of hours .” Latif started the organization Gul Bahao , the ” Pakistan’s first research center on waste management ,” according to its website. Chandi ghar, or homes made from the recycled plastic bricks, are one of Gul Bahao’s innovations. According to the website, they have also worked on “instant compost,” a mobile toilet, and a method to purify water. Related: These LEGO-like recycled plastic bricks create sturdy homes for just $5,200 The plastic utilized in chandi ghar are mainly food wrappers discarded by factories often because of printing issues. Latif said while some shy away from the idea of living in houses made of waste, the trash she utilizes is clean. The homes are low cost as well: Gul Bahao receives 300 to 400 rupees per square foot (that’s about $2.90 to $3.80). To build a chandi ghar, strips of recycled plastic are put into a ” thermopore shell ” which is tied together to form the bricks. The bricks are then attached to wooden pillars to rapidly construct homes. Latif said in a video the homes are “modular” and “weatherproof,” and a two story house can be erected in just four to five hours. After an earthquake in 2005, chandi ghar were constructed as shelters for those who had lost homes. They’ve also been set up for families of patients at a hospital in the poor district of Tharparkar. Latif said the chandi ghar could also be beneficial for nomads who have traditionally lived in mud shelters. Residents of chandi ghars aren’t as susceptible to diseases they can be exposed to while living in mud shelters. Latif told Al Jazeera since 2005, over 150 chandi ghar have been built in Pakistan. She said, “You can make beautiful structures using rejected material…If you make such bricks, it’s bye-bye to pollution, climate change, and the melting glaciers. Because you’ve stopped burning garbage and plastic.” Via Al Jazeera Images via Gul Bahao

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Affordable chandi gar homes made with recycled plastic bricks pop up in a matter of hours

Morocco just officially banned plastic bags

July 27, 2016 by  
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When it comes to plastic bag consumption, Morocco is second only to the United States – but that’s set to change as the nation just officially banned plastic bags . A new bill enacted by Morocco’s parliament bans importing, selling, distributing, and producing plastic bags – but some worry it could take years for people adhere to the law. Morocco’s 34 million residents use three billion plastic bags every year, according to the Moroccan Industry Ministry. The country banned black plastic bags in 2009, however the motion was only partially successful as authorities had a hard time stopping “informal production.” Related: Scotland bans plastic bags, spares landfill 650 million bags in just one year Mamoun Ghallab, founder of Moroccan sustainable development group MakeSense , told Al Jazeera “They do it to promote the image of Morocco as an environmentally friendly country, which is partly true, but not completely… If citizens are not aware of the concerns and the challenges we’re facing, things will go much slower. Everything begins and ends with the citizens.” While Morocco is sometimes seen as a green country because of its focus on clean energy – the nation has built a massive solar plant and plans to reduce subsidies for fossil fuel companies – other sectors of the country aren’t so green. Waste is one issue; the World Bank said Morocco disposes of just 10 percent of waste in an “environmentally and socially acceptable manner.” Yassine Zegzouti, president of Moroccan advocacy group Association Mawarid , told Al Jazeera the government has made efforts to enforce the ban – including investing money in educational TV spots – but that the “formal sector” would likely need four or five years to adhere to the law. Industry Minister of Morocco Moulay Hafid Elalamy stated via Twitter there would be “several alternative solutions” to plastic bags, like fabric and paper bags. Via Al Jazeera Images via Zainub Razvi on Flickr and Esin Üstün on Flickr

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Greenpeace identifies brands that are still polluting oceans with microbeads

July 24, 2016 by  
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Microbeads are wrecking havoc on our oceans. Commonly used as an exfoliant in facial scrubs and shower gel, these tiny pieces of plastic get washed down the drain and often end up in the bellies of fish and other marine life. Despite widespread outcry against the use of microbeads, many brands that allegedly pledged to uphold a microbead ban have fallen disappointedly short, Greenpeace reports in a recent study. Click through to learn which brands are still polluting oceans with the tiny pieces of plastic.

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Greenpeace identifies brands that are still polluting oceans with microbeads

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