Fossil-Fuel Interests Try to Weaken Global Plastics Treaty – Scientific American

Microplastics On The Beach (by Petr Kratochvil CC0 Public Domain).

Good news: the world is discussing a treaty to stem plastic pollution. Bad news: fossil-fuel interests are trying to weaken it.

An international effort to rein in plastic pollution is running into resistance from China, Saudi Arabia and other nations that see a future in plastics amid declining demand for oil, gas and coal.

That debate is playing out over the terms of a prospective global treaty that could set limits on plastic production and consumption. Environmentalists last year scored a landmark victory when 175 countries agreed to write a treaty designed to address the problems with plastic, which kills wildlife and contributes to climate change.

But the terms of that treaty are still very much a work in progress. International negotiators are meeting this week in Paris for the second of five U.N.-led deliberations scheduled over the next year and a half, and so far the discussion hasn’t yielded much headway.

One obstacle is chemistry. Another is diplomacy…

Who owns our trash—and why does it matter? – National Geographic

State Senator Craig Miner tours the Strategic Materials recycling plant in South Windsor, CT, April 4, 2017 (by CT Senate Republicans CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 via Flickr).

Who owns our trash? It’s a heated question being asked by waste pickers around the world who are uniting to fight for their survival. What we throw away, they insist, should be available to all.

Globally, up to 56 million people collect and resell the metal, glass, cardboard, and plastic that the rest of us toss…

Plastic bottles harm human health at every stage of their life cycle – the Grist

The German 2012 Coca-Cola line-up (by Like the Grand Canyon CC BY-NC 2.0 via Flickr).

A new report says beverage companies like Coca-Cola must be “held accountable for the supply chain impacts of their plastics.”

In 1973, a DuPont engineer named Nathaniel Wyeth patented the PET plastic bottle — an innovative and durable alternative to glass. Since then, production has skyrocketed to more than half a trillion bottles per year, driven by beverage companies like Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, and Nestlé…

Yet Another Problem With Recycling: It Spews Microplastics – Wired Magazine

An alarming new study has found that even when plastic makes it to a recycling center, it can still end up splintering into smaller bits that contaminate the air and water. This pilot study focused on a single new facility where plastics are sorted, shredded, and melted down into pellets. Along the way, the plastic is washed several times, sloughing off microplastic particles—fragments smaller than 5 millimeters—into the plant’s wastewater…

How do you tackle microplastics? Start with your washing machine – the Grist

Laundrymat (sic) by alessandro silipo CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 via Flickr.

Simple filters could help remove microfiber pollution from your laundry. But experts say a broader portfolio of solutions is needed to address the problem.

As environmental challenges go, microfiber pollution has come from practically out of nowhere. It was only a decade or so ago that scientists first suspected our clothing, increasingly made of synthetic materials like polyester and nylon, might be major contributors to the global plastic problem…

Microplastics Are Filling the Skies. Will They Affect the Climate? – Yale Environment 360

Micro Plastics in Arctic Snow (by Felton Davis CC BY 2.0 via Flickr).

Recent studies reveal that tiny pieces of plastic are constantly lofted into the atmosphere. These particles can travel thousands of miles and affect the formation of clouds, which means they have the potential to impact temperature, rainfall, and even climate change.

Plastic has become an obvious pollutant over recent decades, choking turtles and seabirds, clogging up our landfills and waterways. But in just the past few years, a less-obvious problem has emerged…

There are 21,000 pieces of plastic in the ocean for each person on Earth – the Washington Post

Microplastics in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed (by Chesapeake Bay Program CC BY-NC 2.0 via Flickr).

And plastic pollution has been doubling every six years.

Humans have filled the world’s oceans with more than 170 trillion pieces of plastic, dramatically more than previously estimated, according to a major study released Wednesday.

The trillions of plastic particles — a “plastic smog,” in the words of the researchers — weigh roughly 2.4 million metric tons and are doubling about every six years…