Plastic Pollution

“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…” — Claire Le Guern

April 8, 2024

Coastal Trash, Baseco, Manila (by Adam Cohn CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 DEED via Flickr).

Manila Confronts Its Plastic Problem – EOS

The Philippine capital is the latest city to address rampant plastic pollution through a community-guided protocol.

Governments and international organizations have touted the circular economy, in which materials and products stay in circulation for as long as possible, as an antidote to our global plastic problem. (The equivalent of 2,000 garbage trucks of plastic enters oceans, rivers, and lakes every day.) But as wardens of waste management, cities often shoulder the burden of managing plastic pollution.

As a step toward managing plastic waste, 51 communities around the globe have participated in the Circularity Assessment Protocol (CAP). Developed by Jambeck et al., the protocol provides communities with data on circular materials management and local sources of plastic pollution. Most recently, the Philippines’ capital region, Metro Manila, an urban agglomerate home to 12.9 million people—and a serious plastic problem—participated in the CAP process.

Among the authors is a representative from the local organization Save Philippine Seas, which surveyed Quezon City, Manila City, and Mandaluyong City, three localities within the capital region. The organization conducted surveys at retail shops and vendors to document plastic-wrapped items such as snacks, beverages, personal care products, tobacco products, and household supplies.

Collectively, the data buckets portrayed the life cycle of plastics in Manila. The authors identified where plastic originates, how products are designed and used, how waste is collected, and, ultimately, where plastic litter ends up…


More on Plastic Pollution . . .

We’re All Plastic People now – PBS

Introduced by actor and environmentalist Ted Danson, We’re All Plastic People Now investigates the hidden story of plastic and its effects on human health. In an era of throw-away ease, convenience has cost us our well-being. We’re All Plastic People Now asks the question, how much evidence do we need before we decide to take action?

Microplastics with a diameter of 0.5 μm (small green spheres) penetrating the cytoplasm of MH-22a hepatocyte cells. (by Karimov Denis and Valova Iana, captured by ZEISS Axio Imager 2, CC BY 4.0, via Wikimedia).

Nanoplastics linked to heart attack, stroke and early death, study finds – CNN

People with microplastics or nanoplastics in their carotid artery tissues were twice as likely to have a heart attack, stroke or die from any cause over the next three years than people who had none, a new study found…“To date, our study is the first that associated the plastic contamination with human diseases,” said Raffaele Marfella, lead author of the study published Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine…

Florida Sea Grant agent Maia McGuire sampling for microplastics in a freshwater stream and microplastics, July 21st, 2017 (courtesy of Florida Sea Grant CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 DEED via Flickr).

Microplastics found in every human placenta tested in study – the Guardian

Scientists express concern over health impacts, with another study finding particles in arteries…The scientists analysed 62 placental tissue samples and found the most common plastic detected was polyethylene, which is used to make plastic bags and bottles. A second study revealed microplastics in all 17 human arteries tested and suggested the particles may be linked to clogging of the blood vessels…

A bale of crushed PET drink bottles at a recycling facility in San Jose, California., May 26, 2019 (by Grendelkhan, CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia).

Reduce, reuse, redirect outrage: How plastic makers used recycling as a fig leaf – NPR

Former industry officials have said the goal was to avoid regulations and ensure that demand for plastics, which are made from fossil fuels, kept growing. Despite years of recycling campaigns, less than 10% of plastic waste gets recycled globally, and the amount of plastic waste that’s dumped in the environment continues to soar..

Plastic Bags (by wastebusters CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 DEED via Flickr).

California’s war on plastic bag use seems to have backfired. Lawmakers are trying again – the Los Angeles Times

According to a report by the consumer advocacy group CALPIRG, 157,385 tons of plastic bag waste was discarded in California the year the law was passed. By 2022, however, the tonnage of discarded plastic bags had skyrocketed to 231,072 — a 47% jump…The problem, it turns out, was a section of the law that allowed grocery stores and large retailers to provide thicker, heavier-weight plastic bags to customers for the price of a dime….

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