China plans to phase out single-use plastics by 2025

January 21, 2020 by  
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As the world’s most populous country, with close to 1.5 billion denizens, China also produces the largest quantity of plastic . In fact, the University of Oxford-based publication Our World In Data (OWID) has documented China’s plastic production rate at 60 million tons per year. To mitigate the resulting plastic pollution , the Chinese government is set to enact a plastic ban, phasing out the production and use of several single-use plastic items by 2025, thanks to a detailed policy directive and timeline from the country’s National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC). Three avenues are currently available for plastic waste disposal: recycling , incinerating or discarding. Only an estimated 20% of global plastic waste is recycled, 25% incinerated and a whopping 55% is discarded, according to OWID. The more shocking statistic is that only 9% of 5.8 billion tons of plastic no longer in use has been recycled since 1950. Related: Ireland plans to ban single-use plastics Interestingly, of all the regions across the globe where mismanaged plastic is prevalent, East Asia and the Pacific alarmingly outrank all regions at 60%, followed distantly by South Asia at 11%, Sub-Saharan Africa at 8.9%, the Middle East and North Africa at 8.3%, Latin America and the Caribbean at 7.2%, Europe and Central Asia at 3.6% and North America at 0.9%. Discarded plastic accumulates in landfills, but some also enters the oceans, threatening marine life and ecosystems. OWID explained, “Mismanaged plastic waste eventually enters the ocean via inland waterways, wastewater outflows and transport by wind or tides.” Thus, China’s new initiative to curtail single-use plastic production might help substantially in solving the Pacific regions’, and by extension the planet’s, crisis with plastic waste. The plastic ban calls for several components, including a ban on China’s production and sale of plastic bags that are less than 0.025 mm thick; a ban on plastic bags in major cities before 20201, then all cities and towns by 2022 and all produce vendors by 2025; a ban on single-use straws in restaurants before 2021, and a reduction of single-use plastic items by 30% in restaurants by 2021; a phase-out of plastic packaging in China’s postal service; and a ban on single-use plastic items in hotels by 2025. Via BBC , EcoWatch and Our World In Data (OWID) Image via Lennard Kollossa

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China plans to phase out single-use plastics by 2025

Recycle Your Contact Lenses, Don’t Flush Them

January 16, 2020 by  
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When you think of plastic pollution, you probably imagine discarded … The post Recycle Your Contact Lenses, Don’t Flush Them appeared first on Earth911.com.

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Museum of Plastic pops up at Art Basel Miami

December 6, 2019 by  
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The Museum of Plastic is popping up once again, this time at the EDITION Hotel during Art Basel Miami, from Friday, December 6 through Sunday, December 8. Creative incubator Lonely Whale designed the art installation to raise awareness about plastic pollution in the oceans, first unveiling it earlier this year in New York during World Oceans Week. Lonely Whale is known for campaigns like the anti-straw Stop Sucking and the anti-single-use plastic water bottle Question How You Hydrate . Inhabitat talked with Lonely Whale executive director Dune Ives about the Museum of Plastic, and the importance of personal behavior change and radical cross-industry collaboration to solve the world’s plastic problems. Answers have been edited for length. Inhabitat: What exactly is Lonely Whale Foundation? Ives: We’re located at 30,000 feet. We’re virtual. We spend most of our time in various places around the world addressing ocean health issues. We’ve been around for four years. We actually officially launched at Art Basel in 2015. We call ourselves an incubator for courageous ideas to save the oceans. It got its start out of inspiration from this documentary film about finding this whale that speaks at a frequency no other whale has been known to speak at before or since it was found, which is the frequency of 52 hertz. What our co-founders (Adrian Grenier and Lucy Sumner) wanted to make sure we did as an organization was pull people closer to the ocean. To get them to become aware that there is an ocean, it’s in dire straits, we’re largely the cause for that state of affairs. There’s so much we can do to help make it a better place. Inhabitat: What have been Lonely Whale’s biggest accomplishments so far? Ives: I think our biggest accomplishment to date is connecting people to each other. We set out to raise awareness about plastic pollution . But we wanted to create content and initiatives that broke down barriers to engagement. So we didn’t want to make it feel too heavy or too dire or too negative. We also didn’t want it to feel too far away. So we launched our first campaign, Stop Sucking , and that was launched in tandem with Strawless in Seattle . It was really intended to take a lighthearted look at a really big, serious and growing issue of plastic pollution . It struck a chord with people. You could be funny and be an environmentalist at the same time. Related: Plastic straws are a thing of the past, but which reusable straw is best for the future? We have an Ocean Heroes boot camp, we call it, where we bring kids together from all over the world. To date, over 50 countries. This year alone, we’ll reach about a thousand kids, and they are working with each other across borders, across languages, across time zones, to stop plastic pollution. We work with individuals, with our impact campaigns. We work with youth with our Ocean Heroes program. Next Waves is our third big initiative, where we get global corporations to sit across the table from each other to provoke a conversation about plastic pollution. But really it’s about shifting our perception about what is waste and what is usable material and to challenge each other to do more, to go further than they ever thought that they could in being a solution to the problem of plastic pollution. So I think it’s that connectedness, that togetherness, which is a unique contribution that Lonely Whale has made in the ocean health discussion. Inhabitat: What is Art Basel Miami? Ives: It’s an amazing amalgamation of people who are cultural taste-makers and thought leaders and artists and musicians and business leaders who are really excited to drive a conversation about how art and technology and culture intersect and should really allow us to advance progress on the issues that we’re working on as a society. Inhabitat: Tell us more about the Museum of Plastic. Ives: We call it an experiential activation or art installation . It will be installed at the EDITION Hotel , which is right on Miami Beach. People will go through a series of experiences throughout the open spaces in the EDITION. The first experience they’ll go through is what’s called the Ocean Voyage Room, which shows what will happen if we don’t make much more progress than where we are. It’s estimated that in 2014, ’15, ‘16, ’17 and ’18, we had a minimum of 8-12 million tons of new plastic entering the ocean every year. We’re projecting 2020, ’21 and ’22 to have the exact same situation. This Ocean Voyage experience is going to illustrate that this is how bad it can be. But it will also show how we can help prevent this. Because everyone who’s coming through is going to agree to take a challenge to eliminate their use of single-use plastic packaging . One of my favorite things that we’ve produced is a plastic money receipt. We project, based on estimates, that every year, we spend over $200 billion on single-use plastic water bottles. This plastic money receipt shows everything else that we could spend 200 billion dollars on. We could actually protect the entire tropical rainforest with 200 billion dollars. This is a very engaging, kind of eye-opening, jaw-dropping experience for people, where you see what our choices are doing and what our choices could do instead. The third experience at the Museum of Plastic is what we call the ATTN Theater in partnership with ATTN. It’s an original film about how people are using less plastic and the solutions that they’re moving forward with to help protect our oceans. It’s an exciting way to really get engaged in the topic of solutions, but in a way, that’s really inspiring. Inhabitat: Your partners include fashion designer Heron Preston, tech giant HP, media company ATTN, and the EDITION Hotel. How does that work? Ives: We can’t solve these environmental issues on our own as an organization, as a nonprofit. If we’re going to solve for plastic pollution or climate change or illegal fishing or, name the issue, then we have to do so in partnership with industry leaders. That’s really what we’re doing at the EDITION Hotel, in partnership with Heron and with HP, is demonstrating this is a new model for environmentalism that has been tested out over the last few years and is working quite well. HP released the very first monitor that had several of its component parts made from ocean-bound plastic. What HP has done that others haven’t yet been able to do is that it has created a blended polymer . What [HP] is doing with Heron, though, is really fascinating. It is now taking this young, strong voice in the sustainable fashion industry and connecting it 100 percent to the plastic pollution discussion by getting Heron to build the pilot program to try to find alternatives to plastic poly bags. [Note: Short for polyethylene, poly bags are used in most industries. In fashion, these thin, plastic bags are used to protect garments during shipping. The Heron Preston/HP collaboration resulted in poly bags that are compostable at home.] Millennials and Gen Z are very focused on environmental issues, Gen Z even more so than millennials. So when you collaborate with someone like Heron Preston, you’re taking a somewhat difficult-to-engage-with topic of plastic pollution, and you’re now infiltrating the Gen Z market in a way that we haven’t seen any other technology company do to date. He’s edgy, he’s young. He’s really starting to drive the sustainable fashion conversation. Now, he’s bringing his art and his ingenuity together with a technology company that’s leading on ocean-bound plastic issues. So it’s a really nice integration of those two topics together, and what better place to showcase it than at Art Basel. Inhabitat: What are the top things the average person can do to decrease ocean pollution? Ives: The nice thing about plastic pollution and what the individual can do is that there are so many options. When you think about straws , unless you need a straw to drink, just drink with your mouth. Where you do have access to clean, safe drinking water, just drink from a tap. You don’t need a single-use plastic water bottle. Those are two of the easiest things that you can do. I think the third is just be aware. Be more aware. Once you realize that single-use plastics are everywhere, they’re in your life, then you start making choices about do you need the English cucumber, or are you okay with the regular cucumber that doesn’t come wrapped in plastic? Then, I think once you make those choices, you see how easy it is every day to be a solution to the problem. The plastic pollution crisis is solvable. There’s no doubt in my mind. + Lonely Whale + Museum of Plastic Photography by Craig Barritt / Getty Images via Lonely Whale

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Museum of Plastic pops up at Art Basel Miami

The Ocean Cleanup reveals the Interceptor to remove plastic pollution from rivers

October 29, 2019 by  
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After recently announcing its first success at collecting plastic waste from the Great Pacific Garbage Patch , The Ocean Cleanup team is widening efforts by addressing the main entry point of litter — rivers. To tackle the 1,000 rivers responsible for about 80 percent of global ocean plastic pollution, the nonprofit has deployed a new invention, the Interceptor. The Interceptor catches and collects plastic junk, preventing its flow from rivers into oceans. “To truly rid the oceans of plastic, what we need to do is two things. One, we need to clean up the legacy pollution , the stuff that has been accumulating for decades and doesn’t go away by itself. But, two, we need to close the tap, which means preventing more plastic from reaching the oceans in the first place,” shared Boyan Slat, CEO and founder of The Ocean Cleanup. “Rivers are the arteries that carry the trash from land to sea.” Related: The Ocean Cleanup has first success collecting plastic from Great Pacific Garbage Patch Development of the Interceptor began in 2015. As the company’s first scalable solution to stop the river rush of plastic entering oceans, the device is shaped like a catamaran and houses an anchor, conveyor belt, barge and dumpsters. It operates autonomously and can extract 50,000 kilograms of trash per day before needing to be emptied. The Interceptor is 100 percent solar-powered and operates 24/7 without noise or exhaust fumes. It is positioned where it does not interfere with vessel traffic nor harm the safety and movement of wildlife. How does it work? The Interceptor is anchored to the riverbed at the mouth of a river flowing to the ocean. With an on-board computer connected to the internet, it continually monitors performance, energy usage and component health. Guided by the Interceptor’s barrier, plastic waste flowing downstream is directed into the device’s aperture, where a conveyor belt delivers the debris to the shuttle. The shuttle then distributes the refuse across six dumpsters that are equally filled to capacity via sensor data. When capacity is almost full, the Interceptor automatically sends a text message alert to local operators to remove the barge and empty the dumpsters. The plastic pollution will be transported to local waste management facilities, and the barge will be returned to the Interceptor for another cycle. To date, three Interceptors are already operational in Indonesia, Malaysia and Vietnam. The Dominican Republic will receive the next Interceptor in the pipeline, while other countries are on the waitlist. In the United States, Los Angeles is finalizing agreements for an Interceptor of its own in the near future. A single Interceptor is currently priced at 700,000 euros (about $777,000). As production increases, Slat has said the cost will drop over time. Of course, the benefits of removing plastic far outweigh the cost of creating the devices. Slat explained, “Deploying Interceptors is even cheaper than deploying nothing at all.” + The Ocean Cleanup Image via The Ocean Cleanup

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The Ocean Cleanup has first success collecting plastic from Great Pacific Garbage Patch

October 4, 2019 by  
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The Ocean Cleanup, a Dutch nonprofit dedicated to eliminating plastic pollution in the oceans, recently announced its first success. After years of trials that left its engineers scratching their heads over design challenges, the nonprofit’s newest prototype device has consistently collected plastic waste from the Great Pacific Garbage Patch . Following years of repeat returns to the drawing board, The Ocean Cleanup has finally experienced its first success of consistently capturing and collecting plastic, thanks to the self-contained System 001/B prototype. As an added bonus, not only was the prototype able to collect large, visible items but also microplastics as small as one millimeter. Related: Trash-collecting device returns to Great Pacific Garbage Patch “After beginning this journey seven years ago, this first year of testing in the unforgivable environment of the high seas strongly indicates that our vision is attainable and that the beginning of our mission to rid the ocean of plastic garbage , which has accumulated for decades, is within our sights,” said founder and CEO Boyan Slat. “Our team has remained steadfast in its determination to solve immense technical challenges to arrive at this point. Though we still have much more work to do, I am eternally grateful for the team’s commitment and dedication to the mission and look forward to continuing to the next phase of development.” The patch, located in the waters between Hawaii and California, is infamous as the area with the largest accumulation of plastic debris. As a trash vortex, its circular motion draws litter into itself, trapping all the junk into a concentrated mass. The hazards are compounded by the leaching out of noxious chemicals linked to health problems. Marine life is also harmed, with numerous reports of disruptions in feeding and migrating patterns, ultimately threatening species’ survival and reproductive success. The need to remove the plastic waste polluting the Pacific Ocean inspired Slat to establish The Ocean Cleanup in 2012. The nonprofit’s engineers have since been striving to develop a device to rid the ocean of the garbage. The various device prototypes employ a passive system that moves with the currents while catching plastic refuse. The nonprofit aspires to develop more prototypes in hopes of deploying a future fleet of ocean debris-collecting systems. The collected plastic will, in turn, be recycled onshore and sold to business-to-consumer (B2C) companies. The recycling revenue will be reinvested into the nonprofit’s expansion plans for further ocean waste management and sanitation. + The Ocean Cleanup Images via The Ocean Cleanup

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The Ocean Cleanup has first success collecting plastic from Great Pacific Garbage Patch

Artist submerges 24 portraits underwater to raise attention about our plastic waste

August 29, 2019 by  
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It’s common knowledge that our oceans are suffocating because of our addiction to plastics . But there are some eco-warriors, like Austrian artist Andreas Franke , who are determined to bring more visual attention to the burgeoning issue, all in the name of saving our planet. Franke has recently installed Plastic Ocean, a project that saw 24 portraits of various people being drowned in a sea of plastic, submerged into the depths of the actual sea off the coast of Key West. Although the world seems to be on board with reducing our plastic waste , the action to actually doing it is moving at a snail’s pace. To instigate change, Franke decided to create a series of portraits that depict various people being drowned by plastic objects. Related: Recycled plastic art installation asserts that water is a human right in D.C. Not only are the images provocative for their message about how our oceans are being converted into massive trash dumps, but the collection also features a series of generations. By using images of tiny babies, toddlers and adults, the message is clear: there is an urgency here that cannot be overlooked if we want to provide a safer world for the next generation. The underwater art exhibition was installed on the wreckage site of the USS Vandenberg off the coast of Key West, where divers from around the world were invited to check out the installation. The exhibition ran until late August. Now, the artworks are being prepared for a land-based exhibit (location to be announced). After four months at sea, the artwork is covered with a unique patina, which was left as-is to give visitors to the upcoming exhibition a small glimpse into the beauty of the ocean. Franke hopes this small detail, along with the installation’s overall message, will inspire people to do their part in helping the cause. + Andreas Franke + Plastic Ocean Gallery Via Matador Network Images via Plastic Ocean Gallery

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Artist submerges 24 portraits underwater to raise attention about our plastic waste

Babylegs the inexpensive, educational way to monitor ocean plastic pollution

August 14, 2019 by  
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Plastic pollution is a frequent topic around the planet, especially when referencing marine life and water pollution. Microplastics can’t be seen by the naked eye but are showing up in water tests nearly everywhere. Do you have plastic in your nearby waterway? If you want to find out, you can collect a sample for testing using Babylegs, a trawl for monitoring ocean plastic. Currently fully funded on Kickstarter, Babylegs was introduced by Civic Laboratory for Environmental Action Research (CLEAR), a self-proclaimed feminist and anti-colonial marine science laboratory. CLEAR is working on the project in conjunction with another organization called Public Lab, a community that develops open source tools in the hopes of motivating community involvement. Together, the groups aim to provide tools the public can use to help gather information about environmental quality issues. Related: New line of men’s swimwear is made from recycled ocean plastic Babylegs offers a simple design and is sourced from inexpensive and recycled materials. It’s a do-it-yourself kit that you put together before use. This isn’t the product of a company looking to make a profit. Babylegs is a tool that the company wants to provide to as many people as can use it, inexpensively and efficiently. With the easy-to-source materials, anyone can put together Babylegs, including classrooms of students. The basic supply list is baby leggings, a water bottle, sandpaper, a drill, scissors, rope, a plumber’s clamp and a screwdriver. With these few supplies, plus some in the kit and some provided by you (like the water bottle), you can make your Babylegs and head out to the closest body of water In addition to providing the Babylegs kits, the company has a goal to facilitate education regarding plastics in the water. The concept is that an increased number of people taking and evaluating samples will provide a larger database of water plastic information that everyone can rely on. Of course, making the Babylegs and collecting the water sample with a simple trawl behind a boat or from a boat, bridge or dock is the easy part. The science comes in through the evaluation of the data you collect, so the kit helps with that, too. According to the Kickstarter campaign, “The activity guides included with this kit are divided into sections on building the BabyLegs trawl, deploying BabyLegs in the water, processing the sample in a kitchen, school or laboratory, where plastics are sorted from organics and finally forensically analyzing the microplastics so you can learn about pollution in your waters.” The idea is solely focused on information and education, so there’s nothing fancy about the product. Instead, most of the components are from recycled materials and many are reusable at the end of the Babylegs lifecycle. Kits are shipped in fully recyclable packaging that is also reused when possible. + Babylegs Images via Public Lab and Max Liboiron / CLEAR Lab

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Giant totems in Poland warn against climate change catastrophe

July 18, 2019 by  
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In the heart of Pozna?, Poland, artist Alicja Bia?a and architect Iwo Borkowicz have installed Totemy , a series of giant sculptures designed to raise awareness about climate change and environmental issues. Located beneath the MVRDV -design Baltyk building, the massive totems derive their bold patterns, vibrant colors and shapes from statistics on pressing environmental topics, from deforestation to air pollution to plastic production. Each sculpture features a QR code that passersby can scan to access a website explaining the meaning behind each sculpture. Measuring nearly 30 feet tall in height, each timber Totemy sculpture was constructed and painted by hand by Bia?a with help from local wood workers and community members. During the design process, Bia?a opened her workshop to the public for weekly open studios where the community could contribute their ideas to the project. Given the amount of community involvement, the sculpture location beneath the Baltyk building was fitting: the building, which was formerly a cinema , had long served as a place where people would gather to discuss political ideas. Related: Daniel Libeskind unveils climate change-inspired sculptures at Paleis Het Loo “The two designers aimed to use public space as a direct confrontation with facts and statistics, able to reach a wider public than would typically be afforded by museums, galleries and conventional art spaces,” the Totemy press release noted. “We wanted to address the public at large and at an everyday level,” Bia?a explained. “Passersby on the street and tram will catch out of the corner of their eye a flash of strong colors and be reminded of the current state of our world.” The popularity of the Totemy project in Poland has garnered interest in other cities and abroad. Bia?a and Borkowicz plan to take the concept to other countries to spur dialogue about climate change and environmental issues. + Totemy Images via Alicja Bia?a

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Study shows reusable menstrual cups are safe and just as effective as tampons, pads

July 18, 2019 by  
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Reusable menstrual cups have been around for decades, but they are just starting to pick up in popularity. Most people can’t shake their familiar comfort with tampons and pads, but a new study indicates that the cup is just as effective as the disposables and has no health risks. If you can get past the learning curve and “ick” factor, the menstrual cup is one of the easiest and most sustainable options for your period. Reusable cups are typically made from silicone or rubber and are inserted into the vagina. The cup stays put via suction against the vaginal walls. A finger must be inserted to break the suction, and then the user removes the cup, empties its contents, washes it and reinserts it. It can stay for up to 12 hours. The initial cost of cups might seem expensive, around $40 USD, but they last up to 10 years. Related: 5 eco-friendly menstrual products that also protect women’s health The study in The Lancet Public Health used data from more than 3,000 people around the world and proved that the cup is safe and effective. Not only are there no associated health risks, including vaginal infection or discharge, but the cups are light, compact and easy to travel with. Once you get past the initial sticker price, cups are one of the most affordable options and could be helpful for people in poor and rural communities. “People in non-profits assume that [the cups are] not suitable,” said Mandu Reid, founder of The Cup Effect , which trains people how to use cup. “That’s based on presumptions about these women’s preferences. That they wouldn’t like them because they have to be inserted or because they don’t want to touch their own menstrual blood.” There is certainly an “ick” factor to get past and some challenges in areas with limited access to clean water ; however, the study found that 73 percent of first-time users expressed a willingness to continue using it. + The Lancet Public Health Via NPR Image via Shutterstock

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Study shows reusable menstrual cups are safe and just as effective as tampons, pads

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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