Groundbreaking study finds 13.3 quadrillion plastic fibers in California’s environment

Groundbreaking study finds 13.3 quadrillion plastic fibers in California’s environment

SOURCE: The Guardian DATE: October 16, 2020 SNIP: A study in California has laid bare the staggering scale of pollution from plastic microfibers in synthetic clothing – one of the most widespread, yet largely invisible, forms of plastic waste. The report, whose findings were revealed exclusively by the Guardian, found that in 2019 an estimated 4,000 metric tons – or 13.3 quadrillion fibers – were released into California’s natural environment. The plastic fibers, which are less than 5mm in length, are primarily shed when we wash our yoga pants, stretchy jeans and fleece jackets and can easily enter oceans and waterways. “The findings were nothing short of shocking,” said Alexis Jackson, fisheries project director at the Nature Conservancy in California, which commissioned the study from a research team at the University of California, Santa Barbara. The study, which the authors describe as the first of its kind, has not yet been peer reviewed or published. Many picture ocean plastic pollution as large debris such as bags, straws and bottles, but in fact the majority consists of tiny particles that accumulate in tiny organisms and rise in the food chain. Their size makes it easy for them to collect in everything from plants to plankton. A recent study found that 73% of fish caught at mid-ocean depths in the Atlantic had microplastic in their stomachs. The number – 13.3 quadrillion – is tricky to wrap one’s mind around, so the study’s authors have made more digestible comparisons: it’s 130,000 times as many fibers as there are stars in the Milky Way galaxy. It’s also equivalent to 80m rubber duckies’ worth...
How Big Oil misled the public into believing plastic would be recycled

How Big Oil misled the public into believing plastic would be recycled

SOURCE: OPB DATE: September 11, 2020 SNIP: Laura Leebrick, a manager at Rogue Disposal & Recycling in southern Oregon, is standing on the end of its landfill watching an avalanche of plastic trash pour out of a semitrailer: containers, bags, packaging, strawberry containers, yogurt cups. None of this plastic will be turned into new plastic things. All of it is buried. “To me that felt like it was a betrayal of the public trust,” she said. “I had been lying to people … unwittingly.” Rogue, like most recycling companies, had been sending plastic trash to China, but when China shut its doors two years ago, Leebrick scoured the U.S. for buyers. She could find only someone who wanted white milk jugs. She sends the soda bottles to the state. But when Leebrick tried to tell people the truth about burying all the other plastic, she says people didn’t want to hear it. “I remember the first meeting where I actually told a city council that it was costing more to recycle than it was to dispose of the same material as garbage,” she says, “and it was like heresy had been spoken in the room: You’re lying. This is gold. We take the time to clean it, take the labels off, separate it and put it here. It’s gold. This is valuable.” But it’s not valuable, and it never has been. And what’s more, the makers of plastic — the nation’s largest oil and gas companies — have known this all along, even as they spent millions of dollars telling the American public the opposite. NPR and PBS “Frontline”...
Big Oil Is in Trouble. Its Plan: Flood Africa With Plastic.

Big Oil Is in Trouble. Its Plan: Flood Africa With Plastic.

SOURCE: The New York Times DATE: August 30, 2020 SNIP: Confronting a climate crisis that threatens the fossil fuel industry, oil companies are racing to make more plastic. But they face two problems: Many markets are already awash with plastic, and few countries are willing to be dumping grounds for the world’s plastic waste. The industry thinks it has found a solution to both problems in Africa. According to documents reviewed by The New York Times, an industry group representing the world’s largest chemical makers and fossil fuel companies is lobbying to influence United States trade negotiations with Kenya, one of Africa’s biggest economies, to reverse its strict limits on plastics — including a tough plastic-bag ban. It is also pressing for Kenya to continue importing foreign plastic garbage, a practice it has pledged to limit. Plastics makers are looking well beyond Kenya’s borders. “We anticipate that Kenya could serve in the future as a hub for supplying U.S.-made chemicals and plastics to other markets in Africa through this trade agreement,” Ed Brzytwa, the director of international trade for the American Chemistry Council, wrote in an April 28 letter to the Office of the United States Trade Representative. Kenya, like many countries, has wrestled with the proliferation of plastic. It passed a stringent law against plastic bags in 2017, and last year was one of many nations around the world that signed on to a global agreement to stop importing plastic waste — a pact strongly opposed by the chemical industry. The chemistry council’s plastics proposals would “inevitably mean more plastic and chemicals in the environment,” said Griffins Ochieng,...
Rubber debris litters miles of Puyallup River after artificial turf was used in dam project without permit

Rubber debris litters miles of Puyallup River after artificial turf was used in dam project without permit

SOURCE: Seattle Times DATE: August 28, 2020 SNIP: In black waves, drifts and bands, crumbs of rubber [Ed Note: actually, plastic] are polluting miles of the Puyallup River after a spill at a dam project last month. Rubber [plastic] debris already is likely more than 40 miles downriver in Puget Sound. The pollution is the result of unpermitted use of thousands of yards of artificial turf by the dam’s owners while reconstructing parts of the dam. The Puyallup Tribe was first alerted to the spill by a social media post put up July 31 by Derek Van Giesen, a former employee of Electron Hydro, an owner of the dam. He walked off the job over the installation of the turf liner and a large fish kill at the dam that took place the same day of the spill, which occurred overnight on July 29. Van Giesen said the turf came from a pile stored on the property of a neighboring rock quarry. The pile is at least one story high and as long as a football field. From the stop order: “The use of astro-turf in a river system where it can break down and discharge potential toxins into the water is not considered a suitable material.” The question now is how to clean up the mess, just weeks before adult chinook salmon listed for protection under the federal Endangered Species Act are expected to arrive on their homeward journey. According to the consultant’s report, the company, as part of its work on a bypass channel at the dam placed 2,409 square yards of artificial FieldTurf on the channel...
A Plastics Spill on the Mississippi River But No Accountability in Sight

A Plastics Spill on the Mississippi River But No Accountability in Sight

SOURCE: DeSmog Blog (I do not consider this source trustworthy, but the pics of the plastic are important to show.) DATE: August 11, 2020 SNIP: When I arrived on Sunday, August 9, scores of tiny plastic pellets lined the sandy bank of the Mississippi River downstream from New Orleans, Louisiana, where they glistened in the sun, not far from a War of 1812 battlefield. These precursors of everyday plastic products, also known as nurdles, spilled from a shipping container that fell off a cargo ship at a port in New Orleans the previous Sunday, August 2. After seeing photographs by New Orleans artist Michael Pajon published on NOLA.com, I went to see if a cleanup of the spilled plastic was underway. A week after the spill, I saw no signs of a cleanup when I arrived in the early afternoon, but I did watch a group of tourists disembark from a riverboat that docked along the plastic-covered riverbank. By most accounts, the translucent plastic pellets are considered pollution, but government bureaucracy and regulatory technicalities are making accountability for removing these bits of plastic from the river’s banks and waters surprisingly challenging. “The petrochemicals present will pollute fish and wildlife for years as they degrade in the sun,” Scott Eustis with Healthy Gulf, an environmental advocacy group, wrote of the pellets in an email. “This is ominous for the August 2nd event,” he added, after learning that the nurdles still remain along the river. Along with the National Transportation Safety Board, the U.S. Coast Guard is conducting a joint investigation of what happened but has yet to determine who is...