We’re recycling but garbage keeps piling up: What you may not know about the recycling industry


Bali, Kuta beach. Photo courtesy of: © Claude Graves.
“The unprecedented plastic waste tide plaguing our oceans and shores, can become as limited as our chosen relationship with plastics, which involves a dramatic behavioral change on our part…” —Coastal Care ©

Excerpts;

Recycling is a market-driven industry.

Recycling grew from just 6% of the waste stream in the 1960s to 35% in 2017, according to the EPA. The EPA touts the benefits of recycling including reducing waste, conserving energy as well as creating hundreds of thousands of jobs. But if there is no market for the recyclable goods, then those materials go to landfills.

In January 2018, global markets and commodity pricing of all scrap materials were severely disrupted by China’s National Sword policy, which banned plastics and other material from entering the country. Up until then, China had been the world’s main importer of global waste for nearly 30 years…

Read Full Article; ABC News (11-17-2019)

Is This the End of Recycling? The Atlantic (03-05-2019)
Americans are consuming more and more stuff. Now that other countries won’t take our papers and plastics, they’re ending up in the trash…

More Recycling Won’t Solve Plastic Pollution; Scientific American (07-06-2018)
Encouraging individuals to recycle more will never solve the problem of a massive production of single-use plastic that should have been avoided in the first place…

Only 14% of plastics are recycled – can tech innovation tackle the rest? Guardian UK (02-22-2017)
Billions of pounds of plastic waste are littering the world’s oceans. Now, an organic chemist and a sailboat captain report that they are developing a process to reuse certain plastics, transforming them from worthless trash into a valuable diesel fuel with a small mobile reactor that could operate on land or at sea…

Scientists calculate impact of China’s ban on plastic waste imports; Science Daily (06-20-2018)
Scientists have calculated the potential global impact of China’s ban on plastic waste imports and how this policy might affect efforts to reduce the amount of plastic waste entering the world’s landfills and natural environment…

With China’s Ban on Waste Imports, Europe Announces New Recycling Initiatives; Yale E360 (01-16-2018)
In the wake of China’s ban on the import of foreign garbage, which took effect earlier this month, countries across the globe are scrambling to figure out what to do with the thousands of tons of trash piling up at their ports. Now, Europe has announced it is launching an aggressive new recycling initiative to reduce plastic waste and garbage exports…

Ocean Oddities: Pacific’s Plastic Island; Surfline (06-06-2017)
Ever since people invented trash, the sea has served as our favorite dump…

More than 8. 3 billion tons of plastics made: Most has now been discarded; Science Daily (07-19-2017)
Humans have created 8.3 billion metric tons of plastics since large-scale production of the synthetic materials began in the early 1950s, and most of it now resides in landfills or the natural environment, according to a study.

Biodegradable plastic ‘false solution’ for ocean waste problem; Guardian UK (05-23-2016)

Plastic pollution: When The Mermaids Cry: The Great Plastic Tide, Coastal Care
Plastic is versatile, lightweight, flexible, moisture resistant, strong, and relatively inexpensive. Those are the attractive qualities that lead us, around the world, to such a voracious appetite and over-consumption of plastic goods. However, durable and very slow to degrade, plastic materials that are used in the production of so many products all, ultimately, become waste with staying power. Our tremendous attraction to plastic, coupled with an undeniable behavioral propensity of increasingly over-consuming, discarding, littering and thus polluting, has become a combination of lethal nature…

How the U.S. betrayed the Marshall Islands, kindling the next nuclear disaster

bikini-atoll-baker-atomic-bomb
The “Baker” explosion, part of Operation Crossroads, a nuclear weapon test by the United States military at Bikini Atoll, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, on 25 July 1946.
There was no classic mushroom cloud rising to the stratosphere, but inside the condensation cloud the top of the water geyser formed a mushroom-like head called the cauliflower, which fell back into the lagoon. The water released by the explosion was highly radioactive and contaminated many of the ships that were set up near it. Some were otherwise undamaged and sent to Hunter’s Point in San Francisco, California, United States, for decontamination. Those which could not be decontaminated were sunk a number of miles off the coast of San Francisco. Captions and Photo source: US Army

Excerpts;

In the Marshall Islands, Runit Dome holds more than 3.1 million cubic feet — or 35 Olympic-sized swimming pools — of U.S.-produced radioactive soil and debris, including lethal amounts of plutonium. Nowhere else has the United States saddled another country with so much of its nuclear waste, a product of its Cold War atomic testing program…

Read Full Article; LA Times (11-10-2019)

Revisiting Bikini Atoll, NASA (03-10-2014)
Sixty years ago, the United States detonated a thermonuclear bomb on Bikini Atoll in the Marshall Islands, that altered the landscape, hundreds of lives, and the trajectory of a nuclear arms race…

Bikini Atoll nuclear test: 60 years later and islands still unliveable, Guardian UK (03-01-2014)

Effects of nuclear tests in French Polynesia remains a major concern, ABC News (02-24-2014)
France conducted nearly 200 nuclear tests in French Polynesia between 1966 and 1996. The French Government has admitted in the past it’s possible the Mururoa atoll could cave in because it has been sapped by the underground tests…

French Nuclear Tests Showered Vast Area of Polynesia With Radioactivity, Guardian UK (07-03-2013)
French nuclear tests in the South Pacific in the 1960s and 1970s were far more toxic than has been previously acknowledged and hit a vast swath of Polynesia with radioactive fallout, according to newly declassified ministry of defence documents…

Venice is sinking and this time it may go under


Acqua alta, Venice, Italy. Photograph: © SAF — Coastal Care

Excerpts;

From its founding in the Early Middle Ages, Venice has had a fraught relationship with the sea, dependent on it for food and trade, protected from the mainland by the waters of the lagoon, yet always threatened by changing environmental conditions.

Today, though, wind and water lash the palaces and churches with alarming frequency. “Acqua alta,” the term locals use for when the water gets high, pours through the city, most recently even flooding the great church of San Marco. According to The Guardian, it’s only the sixth recorded time the church has flooded in the last 1200 years, but the fourth in the last 20 years. Venice is sinking, and this time it may go under…

Read Full Article; CNN (11-15-2019)

Worst floods for 50 years bring Venice to ‘its knees; CNN (11-13-2019)
The worst flooding to hit Venice in more than 50 years has brought the historic city to its knees. Local authorities in the Italian lagoon city called for a state of emergency to be imposed…

He’s doing the ‘dirty work’ to keep plastic out of the ocean


“The unprecedented plastic waste tide plaguing our oceans and shores, can become as limited as our chosen relationship with plastics, which involves a dramatic behavioral change on our part…”
Captions and Photo: © SAF — Coastal Care

Excerpts;

Afroz Shah, a lawyer in Mumbai, hasn’t had a weekend off in four years. But he hasn’t spent this time writing briefs or preparing for court.

His mission? Saving the world’s oceans from plastic pollution…

Read Full Article; CNN (11-17-2019)

This Mumbai lawyer inspired a massive beach cleanup; PRI (11-14-2017)
Since Oct. 2015, Afroz Shah, a constitutional lawyer and a full time “ocean lover and a beach cleaner,” has been clearing trash for four hours every weekend in what the United Nations has called the world’s biggest beach clean up ever. His efforts have inspired others…

Homeless man cleans up beaches every day, Cape Town; Metro (03-15-2016)
The man is called Dan. He’s 28 and homeless, and he grew up on the Eastern Cape. Every day, he cleans the beaches for no other reason than to ‘make the place nice’ because he’s ’embarrassed about the pollution…’

Collecting plastic waste near coasts ‘is most effective clean-up method’, Guardian UK (01-19-2016)

To clean up ocean plastics, increase focus on coasts, Science Daily (01-19-2016)
The most efficient way to clean up ocean plastics and avoid harming ecosystems is to place plastic collectors near coasts, according to a new study…

Loving the Ocean Starts at Home, National Geographic (09-08-2016)

Plastic pollution: When The Mermaids Cry: The Great Plastic Tide, Coastal Care
Washed out on our coasts in obvious and clearly visible form, the plastic pollution spectacle blatantly unveiling on our beaches is only the prelude of the greater story that unfolded further away in the world’s oceans, yet mostly originating from where we stand: the land…

Worst floods for 50 years bring Venice to ‘its knees’

venezia
Acqua alta, Venice, Italy. Photograph: © SAF — Coastal Care

Excerpts;

The worst flooding to hit Venice in more than 50 years has brought the historic city to its knees. Local authorities in the Italian lagoon city called for a state of emergency to be imposed…

Read Full Article; CNN (11-13-2019)

Two people die as Venice floods at highest level in 50 years; Guardian UK (11-13-2019)
Flood levels in the lagoon city reached the second-highest level since records began in 1923 as a result of the acqua alta, which hit 1.87 metres (74in). More than 85% of Venice was flooded.
‘This is result of climate change,’ says Venice mayor, who declares state of emergency…

Newly identified fish nurseries are choked with plastic


“When plastic ingestion occurs, it blocks the digestive tract, gets lodged in animals windpipes cutting airflow causing suffocation, or fills the stomach, resulting in malnutrition, starvation and potentially death. Indeed, it is found that debris often accumulates in the animals’ gut and give a false sense of fullness, causing the animal to stop eating and slowly starve to death.” —Captions and Photograph: © SAF — Coastal Care

Excerpts;

A new study reveals that it’s not just adult sea animals that are getting a gullet full of plastic. Larval fish are inundated with plastic fragments in their nursery habitats and they’re eating those pieces along with their natural food sources, according to the paper published in the journal PNAS…

Read Full Article; Smithsonian Magazine (11-12-2019)

Bird chick clip on BBC One’s Drowning in Plastic documentary leaved viewers in tears; Country Living (10-02-2018)

Plastics found in stomachs of deepest sea creatures; Guardian UK (11-15-2017)
The study, led by academics at Newcastle University, found animals from trenches across the Pacific Ocean were contaminated with fibres that probably originated from plastic bottles, packaging and synthetic clothes…

60% of Loggerhead Turtles Stranded on Beaches in South Africa Had Ingested Plastic, EcoWatch (05-031-2016)

The Plastic Found In a Single Turtle’s Stomach, Independent UK (03-24-2011)

90 Percent of Seabirds Have Plastic in Their Stomachs, Newsweek (09-01-2015)
By 2050, nearly all seabirds will have plastic in their stomachs. Already, 9 out of 10 of the birds have some of the substance in their digestive tracts. Such are the sobering conclusions of a study published August 31 in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences…

Great Barrier Reef Corals Eat Plastic; Science Daily (02-27-2015)
Researchers in Australia have found that corals commonly found on the Great Barrier Reef will eat micro-plastic pollution. Microplastics are tiny fragments of plastic in the environment and are a widespread contaminant in marine ecosystems, particularly in inshore coral reefs…

Taste, not appearance, drives corals to eat plastics; Duke University (10-24-2017)

Video captures moment plastic enters food chain, BBC News (03-11-2017)
A scientist has filmed the moment plastic microfibre is ingested by plankton, illustrating how the material is affecting life beneath the waves. The footage shows one way that plastic waste could be entering the marine and global food chain…

Microplastic pollution in oceans is far worse than feared, say scientists; Guardian UK (03-12-2018)

New UN report finds marine debris harming more than 800 species, costing countries millions; United Nations (12-05-2016)
Marine debris is negatively affecting more than 800 animal species and causing serious losses to many countries’ economies, according to a United Nations report launched December 5th, 2016…

Plastic Pollution: “When The Mermaids Cry: The Great Plastic Tide,” Coastal Care
Plastic is versatile, lightweight, flexible, moisture resistant, strong, and relatively inexpensive. Those are the attractive qualities that lead us, around the world, to such a voracious appetite and over-consumption of plastic goods. However, durable and very slow to degrade, plastic materials that are used in the production of so many products all, ultimately, become waste with staying power. Our tremendous attraction to plastic, coupled with an undeniable behavioral propensity of increasingly over-consuming, discarding, littering and thus polluting, has become a combination of lethal nature…

Red tide is back off the coast of Florida.

red-tide-bioluminiscence
Red tide bioluminescence. Distinctive blue flashes, a type of bioluminescence, that are visible at night in some marine environments are caused by tiny, unicellular plankton known as dinoflagellates, some of which can produce toxins that are harmful to the environment. Captions: Science Daily. Photo source: ©© Phil Gibbs

Excerpts;

The toxic algae has returned to the waters off southwest Florida and has begun to slowly creep up the state’s Gulf coast over the past month.

Residents who experienced the last one are worried — about their health, the wildlife and whether their businesses can endure another prolonged outbreak…

Read Full Article; CNN (11-12-2019)

Florida has a new water problem: red tide on the state’s busiest coast; Miami Herald (10-04-2018)
A red tide that has sloshed up and down the Gulf Coast for nearly a year, leaving a wake of dead sea life, murky water and stinky beaches, has now landed on the state’s most crowded shores in Miami-Dade County…

As Florida’s toxic red tide stretches on, residents report health problems; NBC News (09-02-2018)

Red tide is devastating Florida’s sea life. Are humans to blame? National Geographic (08-08-2018)
Thousands of sea creatures now litter many of southern Florida’s typically picturesque beaches. “Anything that can leave has, and anything that couldn’t leave has died…”

Worst “red tide” toxic algae bloom in years killing turtles, manatees in Florida; CBS News (08-02-2018)

Toxic Algal Blooms Aren’t Just Florida’s Problem. And They’re On The Rise. Huffington Green (07-07-2016)

Oil spill threatens vast areas of mangroves and coral reefs in Brazil

atlantic-forest-brazil
Brazil, pristine Atlantic coast. Photograph: © SAF — Coastal Care

Excerpts;

Hundreds of kilometres of mangroves and coral reefs, as well as humpback whale breeding grounds, are under threat from an oil spill that has polluted more than 2,400km of Brazil’s north-eastern coast in the last two months…

Brazil’s government environment agency, Ibama, has counted 126 marine creatures affected; the oil has reached the Abrolhos Marine national park off the coast of Bahia state – a reserve that includes an archipelago, extensive coral reefs, humpback whale breeding grounds and the South Atlantic’s biggest concentration of marine biodiversity…

Read Full Article; Guardian UK (11-07-2019)

Brazilians rally to clean beaches amid outrage at Bolsonaro’s oil spill inaction; Guardian UK (10-22-2019)
Nobody knows where the oil is from or why it keeps washing up on Brazilian beaches. “People in the north-east are cleaning the oil from the coast with their own hands while the federal government is immobile…”

Scientists rush to rescue sea turtles threatened by mysterious Brazil oil spill; PRI (10-15-2019)
Crude oil has been washing up along a 1,200-mile stretch of coastline of the Brazilian northeast for over a month, leaving more than 150 of Brazil’s postcard-perfect beaches covered in thick, sludgy black patches. It is also along this coastline that olive ridley and loggerhead sea turtles come to make their nests and lay their eggs…

Mysterious Oil Spill Becomes New Environmental Crisis for Brazil; The NYT (10-08-2019)
A mysterious oil spill that has polluted shores along a vast area of Brazil’s northeast may have resulted from unspecified criminal activity. An estimated 100 tons of crude has drifted toward land since early September, polluting some of the country’s most pristine beaches…

Microplastics “washing right out into the ocean,” marine biologists say


White stripes of decomposed styrofoam on the beach.
Captions and Photo: © SAF — Coastal Care

Excerpts;

Signs of climate change are everywhere, but sometimes those signs are very hard to see. Tiny, nearly invisible pieces of plastic called microplastics are making their way through our ecosystem. The results could be devastating…

Read Full Article; CBS News (11-08-2019)

Four billion particles of microplastics discovered in major body of water; Science Daily (09-12-2019)
While collecting water samples and plankton, researchers discovered a high concentration of microplastics, which are known to disrupt the marine food chain…

Trillions of Plastic Bits, Swept Up by Current, Are Littering Arctic Waters; The New York Times (04-19-2017)

People may be breathing in microplastics, health expert warns; Guardian UK (05-10-2016)
People could be breathing in microparticles of plastic, according to a leading environmental health expert, with as yet unknown consequences on health…

Americans Consume Tens of Thousands of Microplastic Particles Every Year; Yale E360 (06-05-2019)
Americans consume more than 70,000 microplastic particles every year from the food they eat, the water they drink, and the air they breathe, according to a new study published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology. Scientists warn that while the health impacts of ingesting these tiny particles are largely unknown, there is potential for the plastic to enter human tissues and cause an immune response, as well as release toxic chemicals into the body…

Sea salt around the world is contaminated by plastic, studies show; Guardian UK (09-08-2017)
New studies find microplastics in salt from the US, Europe and China, adding to evidence that plastic pollution is pervasive in the environment…

Video captures moment plastic enters food chain, BBC News (03-11-2017)
A scientist has filmed the moment plastic microfibre is ingested by plankton, illustrating how the material is affecting life beneath the waves. The footage shows one way that plastic waste could be entering the marine and global food chain…

Microplastic pollution in oceans is far worse than feared, say scientists; Guardian UK (03-12-2018)

Microplastics Have Invaded The Deep Ocean — And The Food Chain; NPR (06-06-2019)

Microplastics in the Great Lakes: Becoming benthic; Science Daily (09-23-2019)
From the Great Pacific garbage patch to inland rivers, plastics are among the most widespread contaminants on Earth. Microplastics — particles of plastic smaller than five millimeters — are especially pervasive. As they build up in Earth’s waters, microplastics are also becoming a permanent part of the planet’s sedimentary layers…

Microplastics pollute most remote and uncharted areas of the ocean; Guardian UK (02-12-2018)
First data ever gathered from extremely remote area of the South Indian Ocean has a surprisingly high volume of plastic particles, say scientists. Currently scientists can only account for 1% of the plastic they think is in the ocean…

The biggest source of microplastics in California coastal waters? Car tires; CNN (10-05-2019)

Plastic Pollution: “When The Mermaids Cry: The Great Plastic Tide,” Coastal Care
Plastic is versatile, lightweight, flexible, moisture resistant, strong, and relatively inexpensive. Those are the attractive qualities that lead us, around the world, to such a voracious appetite and over-consumption of plastic goods. However, durable and very slow to degrade, plastic materials that are used in the production of so many products all, ultimately, become waste with staying power. Our tremendous attraction to plastic, coupled with an undeniable behavioral propensity of increasingly over-consuming, discarding, littering and thus polluting, has become a combination of lethal nature…

The mission of the Santa Aguila Foundation is to raise awareness of and mobilize people against the ongoing decimation of coastlines around the world.

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