Category Archives: plastic pollution

Scotland Readies to Ban Plastic Handled Cotton Buds


There has been a growing concern in the UK about the prevalent water pollution. In response to this, Scotland is set to impose a ban on both the use as well as the production of plastic handled cotton bud in her country.

Wastes on the shorelines and in beaches in Scotland, resulting from flushing used plastic cotton buds down the toilet, are estimated to be about half of the total plastic pollution experienced.

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Scotland’s environment secretary, Roseanna Cunningham, had this to say, ” Banning plastic cotton buds would be a clear sign of our ambition to address marine plastics and demonstrate further leadership on this issue. Despite various campaigns, people are continuing to flush litter down their toilets. This has to stop.

Scotland’s sewerage infrastructure collects and treats some 945 million litres of waste water each day. These systems are not designed to remove small plastic items such as plastic buds which can kill marine animals and birds that swallow them. These products are completely unnecessary as biodegradable alternatives are readily available. The need for action is clear and I would encourage everyone with an interest in safeguarding our natural environment to take part in the consultation when it opens.”

Scotland will be the first country in the UK to make this move, well appreciated by campaigners, who described the move as — great news for the environment and wildlife. In fact, many organizations and big supermarkets, are already having a shift from the use and sales of plastic cotton buds to paper handled ones. An example is a prominent pharmaceutical giant — Johnson and Johnson.

Environmentalists have really applauded Scotland’s move to ban the use of these plastic cotton buds.

Catherine Gemmell, Scotland Conservation officer for the Marine Conservation Society. “After finding over 3,500 plastic cotton bud sticks on beaches across Scotland during our Great British Beach Clean in 2017, that’s an average of 29 for every 100m surveyed, we’re delighted to hear Cabinet Secretary Roseanna Cunningham’s plans to ban the making and selling of them in Scotland. For things that are maybe used for just five minutes to clean our ears or put on eye make-up — they can cause huge impacts on our oceans for hundreds of years.”

Gemmell added that, the flushed out plastic cotton buds that end up in our seas and beaches can accumulate toxins such as PCs (polychlorinated biphenyls) or can be accidentally ingested by marine life, causing physical damage. She said, “Paper and cardboard alternatives are already available for those who need them. The ban will help us all make the change, however, no matter what it is made of, we still want everyone to only flush the 3 P’s down the loo—pee, poo and paper, for the sake of Scotland’s seas!”

The director of the Friends of the Earth Scotland, Dr Richard Dixon, had this to say, “This decisive action is great news for the environment and for wildlife. Cotton buds are a very visible sign of our hugely wasteful habits, turning up on beaches across the globe.

Manufacturers and supermarkets are already moving in the right direction but this single measure will guarantee that Scotland cuts its contribution to marine plastic pollution in half. Following the plastic bag charge and the announcement of a deposit and return scheme for drinks’ bottles and cans, this is another good step on the way to a society which uses resources more sensibly. We look forward to further initiatives when the Government’s promised new group on single-use plastic containers, such as coffee cups, reports its work.”

Dr Lyndsey Dodds who is the head of marine policy at WWF, said: “Cotton buds are some of the most pervasive forms of marine pollution so a ban is very welcome and a step in the right direction. We know plastic is suffocating our seas and devastating our wildlife, with millions of birds, fish and mammals dying each year because of the plastic in our oceans. Plastics are also finding their way into the food we eat and the water we drink, so saving our oceans will require further ambitious action from governments, industry and consumers.”

Alasdair Neilson, the project officer at the environmental charity Fidra, who runs ‘The Cotton Bud’ Project, said, “This progressive step will be welcomed by everyone who has seen cotton buds polluting our beaches and harming our wildlife. A ban would support the responsible businesses that have already removed this single-use plastic item from their shelves. Let’s hope it also marks a bigger shift in the way we use and value plastics.

These products are completely unnecessary as biodegradable alternatives are readily available. The need for action is clear and I would encourage everyone with an interest in safeguarding our natural environment to take part in the consultation when it opens.”

Image credit: pixabay

Rinkesh

Rinkesh is passionate about clean and green energy. He is running this site since 2009 and writes on various environmental and renewable energy related topics. He lives a green lifestyle and is often looking for ways to improve the environment around him. Follow him on Facebook here.

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Soft Drink Execs: Plastic Pollution a Low Priority to Shoppers


Soft drink executives have told the government officials that most shoppers do not care much about the effect of buying plastic bottles on the environment. Such statement could be seen in the documents released by Unearthed.

Companies such as Nestle, Lucozade Ribena, and Coca-Cola were invited for a soft drinks roundtable in order to discuss the present problems on plastic bottles specifically on the amount of waste and the issue on plastic bottle recycling.

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Plastic pollution, specifically the single-use packaging including plastic bottles, has been gaining more attention from various individuals and environmental organizations across the globe due to the amount of plastic that has been entering the oceans. In the United Kingdom alone, there are an estimated 15 million plastic bottles that are being thrown away every day rather than being recycled. The data shows how people really do not care about the effects of plastic bottles if they are only thrown anywhere.

One of the reasons for the public outcry on the issue of plastic is the screening of Blue Planet 2, a documentary that includes the ill effects of plastics, which consisted of a footage of turtles that are trapped in plastic debris. Moreover, albatrosses are shown in the documentary feeding their offspring with plastics.

Inspired by the documentary, Environment Secretary Michael Gove has told the reporters that the issue on plastic should be tackled. He further mentioned the need to boost recycling rates, reduce the number of plastics that are being circulated, and to make the process of recycling easier by reducing the number of different types of plastic which are commonly used.

Drink company executives who joined the roundtable meeting told the officials that consumers who are aware of the state of the environment like the idea of less plastic. They further mentioned that those who are not concerned with the environment think that softer bottles are of inferior and substandard quality.

The executives also mentioned that addressing the problem of littering is easier than attempting to inform the consumers of the materials which their bottles are made up of. This goes to show how soft drink bottle users do not prioritize plastic pollution as much as they prioritize their own needs.

The report also mentioned that plastic bottle consumers usually say that they care about the environmental impact of drink packaging. In a survey conducted for Veolia, a recycling company, more than half of the consumers would instead choose a beverage placed in a recyclable container than over a similar product but placed in a non-recyclable container.

Meanwhile, 71 percent of the respondents in a separate survey mentioned that they would support an increase in the cost of a plastic milk bottle if it were made of recycled plastics and that these bottles would be recycled after use.

The executives further mentioned that introducing a new system together with the existing curbside collections could confuse the consumers who are more invested in getting rid of rubbish out of convenience rather than a financial reward.

Dr. Laura Foster, the Head of Pollution at Marine Conservation Society, mentioned that responsible consumers and manufacturers are becoming more aware that they do not want to see their product being a threat to the environment. She further indicated that giving incentives to those who are returning beverage containers through a deposit-return scheme (DRS) are increasing, with return rates of over 95% in countries where the scheme has already been introduced.

A spokesperson for Coca-Cola stated that the company support DRS. She further mentioned that Coca-Cola had committed itself to double the amount of recycled plastic on its bottle to 50 percent by the year 2020. She said that they would get the materials from a recycling plant in Lincolnshire. By doing so, the company is hoping to contribute to the circular economy in the country.

On the other hand, the spokesperson of Nestle told that a well-designed deposit-return scheme that is easy to use could be a significant solution to achieve a higher recycling rate.

Meanwhile, a Danone spokesperson mentioned that the company supports efficient solution that would lower the societal costs, giving incentives to packaging producers in order to increase the recycling and reuse of their packaging.

The roundtable emphasized the role of the government in such issue. The executives mentioned that the government has a legal obligation to improve the recycling rates. Since litter is an issue in most parts of the world – from the streets to the marine environment – a government is needed to reduce litter and the amount of marine debris.

They also said that local authorities should support the call to bolster the existing household recycling infrastructure, noting the need to improve varied recycling approaches including DRS.

In the end, the decrease of plastic bottle consumption should start with the individual. By prioritizing products with recyclable materials, individuals could help reduce the environmental impact of plastic pollution on the rest of the world.

Rinkesh

Rinkesh is passionate about clean and green energy. He is running this site since 2009 and writes on various environmental and renewable energy related topics. He lives a green lifestyle and is often looking for ways to improve the environment around him. Follow him on Facebook here.

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Plastic Bags: A Matter of Convenience or Curse on the Environment


It is intriguing when you look at how scientifically advanced western nations have become and yet there has been no viable alternative to plastic bags successfully developed and implemented. Plastic packaging is still used on thousands of products and a very substantial part of it ends up as landfill. Some plastic items are being recycled and there has been a push by Governments particularly with recycling drink bottles. But the level of plastic packaging is still very high and is becoming a curse on the environment.

There has been an increasing level of plastic waste, particularly as countries continue to be accepting of its use in daily life as convenient and affordable even with increasing affluence. The waste management systems of countries are no longer able to effectively handle the increasing quantities. In addition, local disposal practices are not appropriate and allow plastics to pollute the environment.

waste-garbage-garbage-bag-dump

Adding to this was a report released in 2016 that stated that the weight of the plastic pollution in the oceans by 2050 would be greater than the weight of the fish in the oceans.
There has been a recent push to reduce the use of plastic bags for grocery shopping. Many shops now will offer an alternative reusable shopping bag that could be made from organic materials or even recycled plastic that has been branded by them in some way.

However, many people still continue to use the plastic bags as they are convenient. In some countries, the Government has introduced legislation to prevent plastic bags from being offered at shops and some large supermarkets have themselves decided that they will become plastic bag free.

This change in a simple social dynamic is clearly an effective way to reduce the use of plastic bags in western nations but there are still many countries where the use of the plastic bag crosses into many areas of use. In countries throughout Asia, the plastic bag is used to hold the actual liquid of drinks with ice and a straw. It is used for condiments that accompany a takeaway order. It is used to carry your takeaway order that you can take home and reheat.

Almost every time you buy something it will be given to you in a plastic bag. It is just how things are done. And the system for the disposal of rubbish sometimes does not really manage the disposal of plastic very well. You are able to travel across Asia and see plastic bags lining the roads or all across the ground in poorer parts of the towns. The wind blows them around and the rain washes them into the mud or into rivers.

It is a serious problem that has been recognized by many Governments in the region but not one that is really captured the attention of senior-level influential figures. The focus tends to be on other business development and health activities. There have however been some efforts made to identify suitable alternatives.

In Indonesia, there has been a whole range of products developed by a local businessman who was unhappy with there being such a large amount of plastic pollution around Bali. His company has developed bags for products which are made from cassava, coffee cups and takeaway bowls made of paper lined with cornstarch, a takeaway food box made from sugar cane and drinking straws that have been developed from paper and a waxy material from plants. The coffee cups and fast food bowls are able to be used for hot items and will biodegrade effectively when thrown away.

Indonesia is an island nation and so much of the plastic that goes into the rivers is then likely to go into the ocean. It has been recognized as a major polluter of its oceans and it is clear that there need to be new approaches brought to resolve this situation with appropriate support from the Government and businesses. These products are so safe that they are even able to be eaten although you would not get any nutritional benefit and the taste may not be so good. However, for sea life this is a great advantage as ingesting plastic has been an ongoing problem in recent years.

Changing the way that people view the use of plastic will have to be the way that most Governments need to address the problem. Changing the way that people behave will need to be influenced by Government legislation and support from industry but there must also be a convenient alternative that people are able to use.

Plastic is already a man-made pollutant that has spread across our environment. It is negatively impacting the environment across a range of regions. Governments need to find ways to ensure that efforts are made to limit the use of plastic and part of this could be consideration of the use of plastic alternatives.

The UN is not a strong advocate for plastic alternatives and is instead focusing on working with large businesses to reduce their plastic use. The UN considers that plastic alternatives are more costly and will be unlikely to appeal to the market because of this. However, it has not completely closed the door and says that there needs to be more learned about the industry to identify if it will be part of a broader environmental solution.

Rinkesh

Rinkesh is passionate about clean and green energy. He is running this site since 2009 and writes on various environmental and renewable energy related topics. He lives a green lifestyle and is often looking for ways to improve the environment around him.

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20+ Shocking Food Waste Facts of America


Food waste is one of the issues currently facing the planet as a whole. America in particular tends to have a serious food waste problem because its consumerism is largely at the retail level compounded by the fact that the majority of Americans are more conversant with finished goods rather than the actual produce.

America therefore has a very high rate of food waste because people have developed a habit of buying excess food than what is actually needed or eaten per meal time. This article seeks to list 20+ shocking food waste facts about America.

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1. The total food waste realized in America is as high the food produced in Sub-Saharan Africa. Sub-Saharan Africa relies on irrigation and minimal rainfall to ensure crops grow to maturity before harvest. After a series of short and long rainfall, there is produce realized which is fairly equal to the food waste of the whole of America.

2. More than a third of food produced in America becomes food waste. This is caused by the unconscious or conscious state of throwing food away as waste. Snacks half eaten as well as excess food purchased but not finished leads to the alarming percentage of food waste.

3. Food waste in America is realized at the consumer level. Most Americans eat at home, buy snacks or eat at a restaurant which is perfectly okay. However, food left on plates or the leftover burger or fries contribute to heightened food wastes.

4. In 2010, the largest component of municipal solid waste from garbage bins was food waste. The dumping of food is becoming rampant which is sad since there are people who still reside in the same country who lack adequate food.

5. America is home to the largest share of the 1.4 billion overweight adults in the world. This is quite ironic. America has the largest food waste in terms of metric tons and still, has the highest number of individuals who suffer from obesity and being overweight. It simply translates to a stalemate because in one household, there is overconsumption of food while in another; food is wasted and goes down the garbage bin.

6. Food waste in America is approximately at 50 million tons annually. The garbage collected in America is full of food waste from the American households which contributes to pollution, effective landfill management problems, and is hazardous to the environment. Most of these food wastes are in plastic bags and containers thus contributing to plastic pollution.

7. High levels of perishable food wastes in American farm leads to lower consumption. In a case where the farm produce goes bad in the farm or in the store, there is a high likelihood that there is reduced willingness to purchase the produce. This leads to a decrease in the consumption of vegetables and fruits which constitute the majority of vitamins and metals which are essential in human diets.

8. Most Americans realize there is a food waste problem but do not acknowledge that they are part of the problem. A large percentage of the American population is aware that the rate of increase of food waste is at an alarming rate. Nevertheless, they do not realize that the little acts they do goes a long way towards food waste, that is, buying food in excess and then throwing away what remains.

9. One in seven people is faced with food insecurity in America. The common stereotype is that food insecurity is only in third world countries and that in developed countries, there is sufficient food and wealth. This may not be the case in America. One in about seven people relies on the government through feeding programs translating to roughly 50 million people. Beside, the affected people are unable to provide for their families as a whole and so have to seek food stamps to survive.

10. A lot of the food waste realized comes from over-purchasing. Individuals buy items in bulk which is okay but fail to see the expiry date which then warrants the disposal of the already bad food, leading to wastes. In order to avoid this, in the case of bulk buying, then there should be effective means of storage like freezers and keen review of expiry dates.

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11. There is loss of 650 pounds of food between the farm and the dining table. Normally, an individual should consume about 2000 pounds of food annually to stay healthy. Yet, there is a loss of pounds therein. This happens when there is poor storage of produce in the farm, stores and at home. Farm produce may overstay in the farm or the store and due to the high level of perishability, it goes bad.

12. About 20% of the farm produce is rejected in the retail stores due to poor quality standards. Farm produce that does not meet the set quality checks such as shape, color and packaging is normally removed from the stores. The result is loss of food that is suitable for human consumption. In light of this predicament, there are stores that are ready to accept the farm produce that has been rejected to salvage the produce and minimize food wastes.

13. In America only, about 25% of water is wasted because of food waste. Water is a scarce resource which should be utilized. In the course of farm produce, there is water that is constantly used for irrigation which would be termed as wasted if the farm produce is itself in the end, termed as wasted. In addition, there is a lot of water left running in taps during food preparation which leads to massive wastage of water in the long run.

14. There is a loss of about 640 billion dollars realized from food waste every year in America. The figure is alarmingly large which begs the need to save food and consume what one can consume.

15. About a half of Americans take home the left overs they left in the restaurants. This should be encouraged since this translates to less loss of food. In consequence of this, more individuals should seek to take back what they have left on dinner tables in restaurants in order to take it again, or to recycle the leftover. In the end, there is no food waste.

16. 40% of food in America is never consumed. This is brought about by the fact that there are certain crops which are majorly produced by America and are mainly exported to other countries. In the end, there is minimal consumption of the particular crop in the country. For instance, despite America being the largest producers of maize, most of it used for export and people still go hungry in the same country.

17. In 30 years’ time, the average calorie consumption will be at 3070 up from the current 2000. This is warranted by the fact that the current population consumes a lot of food which has brought about a heightened level of overconsumption. The increase is also attributed to the growth of the number of obese and overweight individuals in America since the 21st With the current trend, year 2050 will be graced by a lot of obesity which may lead to overconsumption.

18. Food wastes have led to an increase in the per capita income. The wastes in food translate to money loss when it comes to the American economy. In about 40-50 years, the per capita income has been on the rise owed to the fact that the rate of food waste is increasing annually.

Moreover, the population is still steadily growing and as such, the number of individuals who are obese and overweight is also on the increase. As a result, the government has to invest a large chunk of the financial budget on food and the amount keeps increasing annually.

19. America has realized that food wastes can be an avenue for creating value on other sectors of the economy. American has realized that wasted food can provide compost which can be converted to give energy. Wasted food can also be processed into animal feeds in the agricultural sector. With such initiatives, compost can be used for energy production and animal feeds can support the agricultural sector.

20. Food waste in America produces billions of tons of carbon dioxide, augmenting global climate change. Emissions related to food waste considering production, transportation and processing of food in America simply translate to worsening of climate change and increased global warming.

21. There are millions of individuals who reside in America who face malnutrition. Those that are not privileged enough to have a constant supply of food end up facing this nutritional disorder. It is for this reason that feeding programs exist.

References: TheDailyMeal
Image credit: pixabay, flickr

Rinkesh

Rinkesh is passionate about clean and green energy. He is running this site since 2009 and writes on various environmental and renewable energy related topics. He lives a green lifestyle and is often looking for ways to improve the environment around him.

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