8 Million tons

of plastic
Enters the ocean every year

That’s Equivalent to

Emptying a Garbage truck


every minute

1

TONS

Since opening
this page

From the moment we wake plastic for most is at a constant throughout our day; it's in the kettle we boil, the toothbrush we use, the vehicle or public transport we take to work, computers, phones, tools, food wrappers, it’s even in the threads of clothing in which we dress ourselves, and just like those threads plastic has become so unconsciously woven in to our society we run the risk of getting in an ever entangled mess we can't escape. 

Image

plastics

Plastic in itself isn't evil and possesses some highly desirable properties, it’s cheap, light-weight, durable and has endless shaping capabilities2 also because it can be made non-pourous it creates a vacuum when sealed, becoming an unrivalled lightweight packaging option for extending lifespan of food products exponentially.3 Ultimately these hard to beat properties paired with very few restrictions on it's use means that companies have used it fulfil consumer product needs for decades. 

Image

About

The name plastic(s) is derived from ‘plasticity' a term in engineering used to describe a material that has a property of being able to deform without fracturing.4 Plastics are a synthetic polymer, opposed to bio-polymers, like that of cellulose which is naturally found in plants, algae or commercially in paper or cellophane wrap.4 Traditionally made from distillation of crude oil, the production of plastics begin with the extraction of a key chemical called naphtha. Followed by polymerisation and polycondensation which is then5 used to form long polymer chains from ethylene, propylene and then butene.6 This key processes ultimately creates resins7 or resin granules, categorised in to either thermo or thermoset, with additional chemical compounds added during the manufacturing process to create or remove unwanted properties.4 There are many different types of plastics for a wide variety of uses with the six most common often marked with a code8 and a seventh used indicate other.9 This serves as a way to distinguish them as a safety point but to also aid in dividing them for recycling at their end of life use, as they can't all be recycled and certainly not be as a single component.

Image

Plastic Types

EASE OF RECYLCING
PET

Polyethylene Terephthalate

Bottles for water, soft drinks, juices cleaners etc.

3.6

Tons Globally
(Million)

HDPE
High-Density Polyethylene

Toys, milk bottles, shampoo bottles, pipes, houseware etc.

5

Tons Globally
(Million)

PVC
Polyvinyl chloride
Window frames, profiles, floor and wall covering, pipes, cable insulation, garden hoses, inflatable pools, etc.
5

Tons Globally
(Million)

LDPE
Low-Density Polyethylene
Reusable bags, trays and containers, agricultural film (PE-LD), food packaging film (PE-LLD), etc
8.7

Tons Globally
(Million)

PP
Polypropylene
Food packaging, sweet and snack wrappers, hinged caps, microwave - proof containers, pipes, automotive parts, etc.
9.6

Tons Globally
(Million)

PS
Polystyrene
Eyeglasses frames, plastic cups, egg trays (PS); packaging, building insulation (PS-E) etc.

1.9

Tons Globally
(Million)

Others
Bisphenol A & Others
Hub caps (ABS); optical fibres (PBT); eyeglasses lenses, roofing sheets (PC); Touch screens (PMMA); cable coating in telecommunications (PTFE); and many others in aerospace, medical implants, surgical devices, membranes, valves & seals, etc.
3.8

Tons Globally
(Million)

Sources: Resin codes,9 Descriptions,10 Global plastic output by type11

40% of PLastic

we encounter

on a daily basis is

packaging

Worldwide demand

The relative low cost and versatility of plastics and it's applications it's hard to imagine any other scenario playing out other than worldwide adoption followed by what can only be described as a dependancy at an accelerated rate, and that’s exactly what’s happened. Since it’s inception in the 1950’s it has risen from 2.3 million tons per year to an output of 443 million tons in 2015,12 the last 15 years alone contributing 50% of all plastic ever created, and it shows no sign of slowing.13 

Plastic Production Growth Per Year

Image

Source 13

79%

of ALL plastic ever Made

has gone to Landfill

(6.3 billion tons)

Equivalent to

12.2 million

olympic Sized swimming pools Full

Cradle to grave

You might be tempted to think that the vast majority of plastics would serve out it’s life in the likes of the aerospace, construction or automotive industries, but sadly not, around 40% of what we encounter on a daily basis is packaging.14 This is the plastics protecting our delivered goods, wrapping our food and bottling soft drinks. In the particular case of bottled water it's at an astonishing rate of 1 million bottles a minute,15 and it's largely destined to go to landfill after one single use.

Plastic Waste by Industry 2015

Source16

The problem

The reduction the safe disposal of plastics is challenging us to change our habits, however it's not the route cause of the growing concern of plastic pollution. The real problem is the lifespan of the material, it doesn’t degrade nearly fast enough in the natural environment. If you could just throw a plastic bottle in a bush knowing it would bio-degrade like an apple core then there of course would be no issue but it doesn’t. Evidence of plastic is being found everywhere from remote landlocked17 and island regions,18 to the deepest waters of our oceans,19 it’s in our food,20 drinking water21 even our air.22 Some types last so long that if our early ancestors used plastic it would still be found in some form on earth today.23

Image

Stages of Degradation

Macroplastics
Greater than 5 cm
General rubbish and large debris
Mesoplastics
5 mm – 5 cm
Trash and large debris that results from its fragmentation
Microplastics
100 nm–5 mm
Results from general wear-and-tear of plastic materials, including washing synthetic fabrics and abrasion of car tires; also used in diverse products
Nanoplastics
Less than 100 nm
Results from general wear-and-tear of plastic materials; increasingly used in diverse products

Source 20

DEGRADE vs DECOMPOSE

Most plastic types will degrade i.e. breakdown or fragment in to smaller pieces as a result of weathering25 but plastics do not decompose. That is where by the process of bio-degradation transforms matter in to other organic materials26 or fully in to carbon dioxide, water and inorganic molecules known which is called mineralisation.27 Plastics are a man made, categorised as a synthetic polymer so bacteria or organisms having evolved over billions of years to recognise and feed on natural or organic compounds do not recognise them as a food source.26 Plastic degrading or breaking down in to smaller pieces is often misconceived as a good thing as it’s disappearing in to smaller pieces, but this taking place in the natural environment is a disaster and does so quickly when exposed to sunlight (UV) for long periods known as photo-oxidative degradation.29 It weakens the chemical bonds in the plastic which becomes brittle, eventually degrading to the smallest categorised size known as nano-plastics, barely undetectable to the naked eye but remaining ever present in the natural environment20, 26  basically plastic is all but indestructible.21 How long this takes is dependant on the type of plastic and the environmental factors. In the case of the ubiquitous plastic shopping bag with it’s average time of use being just 12 minutes it’s estimated that it can take up to a thousand years or millenia to degrade.28

Image

Recycling should play a part when plastic reaches the end of it’s life but sadly not all types can be and of those that can the infrastructure to facilitate it has simply not kept pace with the rampant oversupply. It’s estimated 7 billion tons (Bt) has been produced since the 1950s with 0.92 Bt (12%) incinerated, with only a dismal 0.7 Bt (9%) ever being recycled leaving the remaining 6 Bt (79%) to go to landfill or leak in the environment somewhere.12 To put that in to perspective that’s roughly 12.2 million olympic sized swimming pools filled with plastic, or around one ton per person alive today. This is due to a trio of reasons, poor education, slow transition to single stream recycling and very limited investment in research and infrastructure until recently.24

How do plasticS enter the environment?

Original Illustration Source: The Scientist

Image

“Plastics enter the environment from a variety of sources such as leakage during waste collection and from landfills, littering, runoffs, and material lost from waste processing. Both micro and nano particles can be shed from larger plastic products, such as through abrasion of car tires on the pavement. Some 80% of microplastics in wastewater are synthetic fibers, many of which are shed by clothing in the washing machine. Some microplastics (and, likely, nanoplastics, though no studies have attempted to detect such particles) pass into rivers and oceans unhindered by wastewater treatment. Those particles that are captured eventually find their way onto land as part of sewage sludge.”29

THE Biggest Polluters

Everyone is to blame! Some 90% of all plastic leakage in to the ocean can be traced back to just 10 rivers30, 31 found in some of the most impoverished regions of the world30  and it isn’t just their domestic waste. MEDCs (More economically developed countries) have been using it as a dumping ground for decades. China in particular had been previously been taking 56% (by weight) of the worlds plastic waste according to a 2014 study33 something which abruptly ended in late 2017 with their “Green Sword or Fence Policy”34 which has left western countries scrambling.  Waste management in many of the countries are already overloaded with insufficient infrastructure to handle demand35 a large portion of the western worlds governments have poorly handled the issue collecting and shipping our waste designated as recycling and it not being processed as such. 36

Polluting Rivers

Image

Source 31,32

Image

AVERAGE USE TIME OF A PLASTIC BAG

12 minutes

ESTIMATED Time to degrade

20-1000 years

Source12

Image Image

IMPACT

Once plastic finds it's way in to the natural environment it has a plethora of negative impacts, from the widely publicised and graphic entanglement39 to the ingestion by a documented 400 animal species45 causing injury and starvation.40 The impacts to terrestrial wildlife and us the homosapian and creator of the material are not as widely documented but are becoming more of an interest as concerns grow globally.

PHYSICAL


Image

TERRESTRIAL WILDLIFE

One of the larger land animals effected are cows in India, now recognised as one of the major contributing factors in premature death.46 Both cows and native buffalo forage for food scraps in landfills and discarded litter mounds, coming in to contact with large amounts of plastics in the process and often ingesting. It’s estimated nearly every dead cow India will have an average of 30kg of plastic in its stomach.47 in the case of one cow 80kg was removed from its stomach after a three hour operation.46 Another range of species that is being significantly impacted by plastic pollution is ocean-foraging birds it is estimated by 2050 almost every bird may be eating plastic.48

Research in to the impacts of plastics on the terrestrial environment has been much slower than that in the marine,21 however the use of plastic mulching within farming in China over the past few decades has started to show its side effects. A study by a team of researchers in 2016 discovered that the soil biomass showed plastic residues and those with increased levels resulted in lower metabolic activity and functional diversity.49 Another study by a team from he tnetherlancs discovered that worms ingested plant litter tainted with micro-plastics grew slower and died earlier.50 A large number of studies have indicated that it effects reproductive systems, evidence was not found in this study but another revealed gut inflammation.51

If plastics are making their way through terrestrial animals and organisms then plant life must be taken in to consideration and assessed. Micro-plastics aren’t much of a threat to plant life due to their molecular size but nano plastics may be. A study conducted on tobacco plants showed that fluorescent nano beads were internally uptake by the plants, and rapidly accumulated.52

Marine LIFE

Source: YouTube Filmed by Christine Figgener, marine biologist at Texas A&M University.

Source: YouTube By Verity White, Five Films

There’s so much plastic floating in some parts of the ocean that each square kilometer of surface water holds almost 600,000 pieces of debris,53 it’s created five large swirls known as ‘garbage patches’,54 and much of the plastic debris on the surface of the ocean collects in these debris patches driven by gyres and currents.54 The larger plastic material such as discarded fishing line, nets or bags plastic will often entangle or ensnare animals restricting their movements, often injuring, suffocating or leading to starvation, unable to hunt or feed, they die38 and if they are lucky enough to survive and get caught they may develop growth defects.55 As plastic breaks down further, it starts being ingested by smaller animals and organisms entering the food chain41 due to the collecting algae and confusing chemicals it’s often mistaken as food,38 obstructing air-ways or digestive tracts causing internal taring or ruptures, leading to infection or false fullness56 starving the victim, leading to death. It’s widely known that a turtle can ingest a plastic bag mistaking it for a jelly fish57 but a turtle can also become entangled in nets or debris on the surface, heightening the chance of being struck by a boat which if they survive sometimes can cause “Bubble Butt” syndrome58 where air gets trapped in the top of the shell, causing an uncontrollable buoyancy effect that results in not being able to dive and feed, becoming easy prey or increasing the chances of causing further injuries59 or killed.

CORAL

Image
An empty, plastic rice bag is nestled between corals. Source: Kathryn Berry/James Cook University

Another study has also shed light on the impact it has on coral reefs and discovered that from examining corals spread across 159 reefs off the coasts of Indonesia, Thailand, Myanmar and Australia between 2011 and 2014 plastic was found snared on a third of all specimens.60 The plastic debris acts as a vector for diseases such as skeletal eroding band disease, white syndromes and black band disease61 increasing their chances of infections by carrying bacteria and pollutants infecting coral when coming in to contact with the reef habitats. 

Over 80%

of the worlds drinking water

Contains

Plastic fibres

Source 21

US (HUMANS)

Plastic particles aren’t just choking the ocean or permeating the food chain, contaminating wildlife and organisms they are now in our drinking water.21 From a study conducted by of the samples taken from tap and bottled water from five continents over 80% tested positive for the presence of plastic fibres21 

“if they are in our water they are almost certainly in our food as well.”21

Studies now show that particles of smimilar size can migrate through the intestinal wall and travel to the lymph nodes and other bodily organs.21

Chemical


WILDLIFE & HUMANs

This is by far the more terrifying and potentially catastrophic impact of plastics on wildlife and humans, the lifespan of plastics isn’t the only concern, depending on the type it can be manufactured using an array of chemicals to create attributes to suit it’s use, many of which are toxic and leach in to the envornment as they degrade. The problem is compounded when material is left circulating in the natural habitat, a study has shown61 that plastic not only leaches chemicals but absorbs them like a sponge, becoming more and more toxic, poisoning more animals and potentially us as it remains in the environment.

Source: Orb Media - How Dangerous

Plastic particles aren’t just choking the ocean or permeating the food chain and contaminating wildlife and organisms they are now in our drinking water.21 From a study conducted by of the samples taken from tap and bottled water from five continents over 80% tested positive for the presence of plastic fibres 21 

“Chemicals from plastics are a constant part of our daily diet. We generally assume the water bottle holding that pure spring water, the microwave-safe plastic bowl we prepare our meals in, or the styrofoam cup holding a hot drink is there protecting our food and drinks. Rather than acting as a completely inert barrier, these plastics are breaking down and leaching chemicals, including endocrine-disrupting plasticizers like BPA or phthalates, flame retardants, and even toxic heavy metals that are all absorbed into our diets and bodies.”18

PLASTICS TYPES & their TOXINS

Table Source: OrbMedia.org

Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET)

PET is the ubiquitous. durable plastic used to bottle water, juice, soda - and for polyester fiber clothes. It's one of the safest plastics used for food storage, and is easily recycled.

Health Associations: Studies have shown that PET can leach the toxic mineral antimony in amounts that exceed U.S. safety guidelines when exposed to high temperatures - say your car in summertime, or an outdoor market during the scorching equatorial summer. This process is accelerated when PET products are heated in a microwave. Health effects of antimony when exposure exceeds government limits: nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.

High Density Polyethylene (HDPE)

This packaging workhorse is used for milk, juice, water, cleaning supplies, and shampoos.
Like most plastic products, HDPE has been shown to leach estrogenic chemicals - man-made compounds that imitate the hormone estrogen - when exposed to heat, boiling water, and sunlight. Estrogenic chemicals are linked to breast cancer, endometriosis, altered sex ratios, testicular cancer, poor semen quality, early puberty, and malformations of the reproductive tract. (US Environmental Protection Agency)

Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC)

PVC wraps meat and sandwiches, floats in the tub in the form of bath toys, makes for stylish jackets and inexpensive household plumbing.
Plasticized PVC leaches toxic chemicals when in contact with water. Four chem ica l softeners used with PVC, known as phthalates, were recently added to the European Chemicals Agency's list of “substances of Very High Concern" for their role as "endocrine disruptors" - chemicals that interfere with the body's production of hormones. Phthalates are linked to improper development of reproductive organs in fetuses and other health issues.

Low Density Polyethylene (LDPE)

LOPE Is used in shrink wrap, milk cartons, take-out coffee cups and to package sliced bread, newspapers, and dry cleaning.
LDPE Is considered a "low hazard plastic.”

Polypropylene (PP)

Polypropylene is used to make containe rs for yogurt, takeout lunches, medicine, and syrups. Polypropylene fibers are woven into cold-weather clothing, and it is found in automotive components, carpet fibers, lab equipment, and even paper currency.
It's considered a fairly safe plastic.

Polystyrene (PS)

Expanded Polystyrene Foam is widely used for takeout food and in the fishing industry. Polystyrene is found in takeout coffee lids, juice bottles, cutlery and other containers
Styrene, which U.S. government scientists say is “reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen,” can leach from polystyrene in contact with hot beverages. Polystyrene is widely used for coffee cups and their lids. "Considering the toxic characte ristic of styrene and leaching in water and other products, [polysty rene ) mate rial should be avoided for food packaging," a 2007 study recommended. "Especially [polystyrene) rigid and foam cups shou ld not be used for hot drinks." Health Associat
Other
This designation is for plastic resins different from numbers one to six, or made from a combination of resins. Three and five-gallon bottles of drinking water, some orangejuice containers, and other kinds of packaging all fall into this category.
Health Associations: What many of these plastics have in common is their use of the hormone-disrupting chemical bisphenol A (BPA) BPA has been linked to hormonal changes, reproductive problems, asthma and obesity. This includes polycarbonate plas tic, which is still used to manufacture baby bottles in many countries.

ENVIRONMENTAL

Image

If the devastating physical and chemical effects on the environment weren’t enought around 4 percent of world oil production is used as a feedstock to make plastics,63 and a similar amount is consumed as energy in the process, so nearly 10% of the worlds carbon emisions come from plastics. There is also a new study that suggests that plastic in the environment is directly emitting greenhouse gases as they degrade.64

Solutions

(Possible)

Like it or not plastic is a very useful material and banning all from the face of the earth overnight isn’t going to happen. Imagine going to the supermarket and everything being replaced with glass, metal, paper or wood, loading up your heavy shopping trolly crawling home in your very unsafe wooden car. It’s just not practical a disaster for carbon emissions and everything would become insanely overpriced. It's going to take time to engineer alternative materials and even then there is likely to be no silver bullet and is going to depend on a variety of different, sustainable approaches, so what can be done?

Reduce Reuse Recycle

This has long been a mantra ingrained in the human psyche for the last few decades and for anyone wanting to live an environmentally conscious existence, it’s a solid approach that everyone should abide by and not just plastic but all consumable materials. Firstly a reduction in demand will ultimately slow manufacture, however plastic is so ubiquitous in all facets of society it’s difficult to curb it’s versatile use. Reuse is great but only goes as  far as the design or material quality in the original product or packaging, plastics such as sweet wrappers are obviously not easily re-usable in that case then recycling must play it’s roll. Recycling has got better since the adoption of single stream recycling 65 in many developed countries, but as previously mentioned not all types can be and those that can are often subject to something called downcycling 66 where the material from products or packaging can only be used to manufacture a lower quality product. For example the material from a plastic bottle (PET) can be turned in to as pillow or carpet fibres,67 which then in turn is made in to plastic lumber, so with each lifecycle the material degrades. 

Ultimately without restrictions or tariffs on plastics particularly virgin plastics before design or manufacturing stages by companies all three are going to be less effective, reductions wont be prioritised, re-use won’t be facilitated and the price of the recycled material vs virgin plastic will cheaper.

Lobbying & Legislation

Governments need to enforce regulation and for it to possibly be taxed otherwise it’s going to cause irreparable damage to us and the environment. Taxations are never popular but the fundamental and underlying reason for tax is to encourage choosing a better alternative by financial dis-incentive. If applied to a large consumable like plastics it is going to have a financial impact for companies but it could also mean a reduction in other taxes like income taxes forming part of the wider ‘carbon tax’ initiative.68

“Well one of the important things to keep in mind is that if you have a carbon tax, you can turn around and cut other taxes in response. For example, the payroll tax. So this is a tax shift, rather than a tax hike.”

Gregory Mankiw - A Harvard professor and one of the most influential economists in the world - Before the Flood. 69

The general concept of a ‘carbon tax’ to directly tax greenhouse gas emissions to encourage companies to curb their destructive continuations and protect the environment,70 society as whole needs to change their fundamental philosophy on disposal and reuse of materials and adopt a closed loop or cradle to cradle approach but thats not going to happen without a push in the right direction.

Circular economy 71

Material value is lost when it goes to to landfill the ‘Circular economy’ reinforces the base ideals of ‘Reuse, reuse, recycle’ but with bigger emphasis on maintaining the purity of the material and penalising the biggest polluters, using the money to fund research to alternatives and green initiatives. It aims to create a smooth and constant flow of limited material used and value retained then reused, resulting in economic benefits and less loss to landfill waste.

This closing of the loop and retaining the material value is vital, only 2% of plastic is retained and remade in to similar product and it’s estimated that $80-120 Billion USD worth of plastic packaging material is lost annually.72 If the circular economy could be perfected for it would have considerable benefits to society.

Plastics to Energy

Not all plastics at the end of their life cycle can be recycled this still leaves a large percentage as waste, so what do we do with those plastics, the idea of plastic being transformed near to it’s original form; crude-oil seems like an unbelievable process but it is one that has been undertaken by Licella.73 They can take plastic along with other materials and through a process undetaken in a hydrothermal reactor change it in to a bio-crude petroleum substitute.74 This quite clearly has it’s drawbacks as the process to create it requires energy and it’s use as a fuel will also release further carbon, increasing the already large carbon footprint of plastics.

Biological Engineering

Plastic being a synthetic polymer is not naturally found in the earths ecosystems and in turn and as mentioned above it cannot be bio-degraded but there is a few rare instances that scientists and researchers have discovered where mother nature has adapted to feed on our waste:

Polystyrene eating Mealworms. 75

Polyurethane eating Fungi. 76

Polyethylene eating Waxworms. 77

Polyethylene Terephthalate. 78

It is far from commercial or scalable to tackle the growing plastic waste problem, its likely that either the organisms will need to be engineered to be more efficient in their plastic consuming abilities or the enzymes or chemicals used in the digestion process will be synthesised and reproduced at a large scale.

Material Engineering

All the above solutions all in part touch upon an end of life of exisiting plastics another alternative rather than continuing with current resins is to create another that is more sustainable by degrading in the natural environment without human intervention. There has been attempts at bio-degradable or oxo-degradable plastics in the past but unfortunately they need to be placed in an industrial compositor sometimes in constant temperatures of 50 degrees if not they act and cause the same damage as other plastics when entering the natural environment.4 This has resulted in the UN issuing a statement denouncing it as a viable solution with the additional concern that people will have false hope in technical solutions rather than making a behavioural change.79 There has also been a seperate study that indicated that introduction of industrial composting on a global scale is just simply not economically viable due to the sorting and separation process of bio-degradable from non prior to composting.80

There is however some newer and more promising materials being engineered as an alternatives for plastics in both packaging and products, here is some of them:

Plastic bags from shrimp shells.81, 82

Myseclium (mushroom root) alternative packaging.83

Bolt Heads Microsilk alternative to polyester in clothing.84

Alternative plastics from Red Seaweed.85, 86

WHAT CAN I DO?

Say NO tO Disposable plastic straws, Cutlery and Bottles…

…and say YES to reusable ones, more than 40 billion individual plastic utensils annually in just the US,88 500 MILLION plastic straws every single day globally 89 and a million plastic bottles every minute globally. 15 Using reusable alternatives will make a dramatic impact.

Plastic Bags; Switch to durable or long lasting

160,000 bags are used every second, which is around 700 a year for every person90

 with each one taking 1000 years to biodegrade if at all thats a really tragic amount of waste. Nealy any kind of alternative bag will be better than disposing.

Brush your tusks Guilt Free

It’s estimated 3.5 billion toothbrushes are sold each year that largely go to landfill with no garuntee they are recylced,91 swap it for a bambu or biodegradable alternative. 

Give up those BAD Hang-ups

It’s estimated in the UK alone that millions of hangers go to landfill instead of each year with 540 million surplus hangers, weighing 17,000 tonnes and 100 million thrown away.92 Swap to a durable metal or even better a pressed cardboard alternative.

Lessen the impact on The ENvironment and Your Phone

Around 1.56 Billion Smartphones were sold in 2018 93, in the United States 79% (186 million) of the population have a protective case of some kind which is a lot of disposible waste when you change phones,94 but there is alternatives without comprimising on protection.

Initiatives

Image
The Ocean Cleanup is a non-profit organization, developing advanced technologies to rid the world’s oceans of plastic.
Image
4ocean is a global movement actively removing trash from the ocean and coastlines while inspiring individuals to work together for a cleaner ocean, one pound at a time.
Image
We are pro-business and work collaboratively with all stakeholders - industry, retailers, packaging suppliers, schools, media, NGOs, Government and the UN to accelerate the pace of essential change.
Image
Citizens of the Great Barrier Reef is the world’s first collaborative movement for the Reef – a unique, data-driven and united approach to Reef conservation.
Image
Simply, Take 3 pieces of rubbish with you when you leave the beach, waterway or…anywhere, and you have made a difference.
Image
Rigorous reporting – grounded in original science and advanced data analytics – on issues that impact billions of people around the world, revealing how our interdependent world works.

References

1) Plastic waste inputs from land into the ocean | Scientific Report

2) Benefits of Plastics | British Plastics Federation

3) Shelf Life Extension | British Plastics Federation

4) Biodegradable plastics and marine litter | UNEP

5) How plastics are made | PlasticsEurope

6) Petrochemicals, from Naphtha to Plastic | Planete Energy

7) What is Plastic Resin? | Marvel Industries

8) Plastic Types | Wikipedia

9) Resin Codes | American Chemistry Council

10) Packaging and Recyclability | Wrap.org.uk

11) Plastics – the Facts 2017 | Plastics Europe

12) Production, use, and fate of all plastics ever made | Scientific Report

13) The world’s plastic problem, in two charts - Chart 1 | Quartz

14) INVISIBLES The plastic inside us | Orb Media

15) A million bottles a minute: world's plastic binge 'as dangerous as climate change' | The Guardian

16) The world’s plastic problem, in two charts - Chart 2 | Quartz

17) The hills are alive with the signs of plastic | The Guardian

18) 38 million pieces of plastic waste found on uninhabited South Pacific island | The Guardian

19) Human footprint in the abyss: 30 year records of deep-sea plastic debris | Scientific Report

20) Plastic Pollutants Pervade Water and Land | Plastic Pollutants

21) Invisibles - Human impact | Orb Media

22) Microplastics in air: Are we breathing it in? | Scientific Report

23) WE MADE PLASTIC. WE DEPEND ON IT. NOW WE’RE DROWNING IT | National Geographic

24) Recycling revolution: the new global business | In The Black

25) Photodegradation and photostabilization of polymers | Scientific Report

26) Why Doesn't Plastic Biodegrade? | Live Science

27) Do plastics go away when they're in the ocean or Great Lakes? | NOAA

28) Plastic shopping bags Options paper | NSW EPA

29) Infographic: Plastic Pollution | The Scientist / AL GRANBERG. SOURCE: NATURE, 537:488

30) Taking on Inequality Report 2016 | World Bank

31) Stemming the Plastic Tide | Scientific American

32) Export of Plastic Debris by Rivers into the Sea | Scientific Report

33) Global recycling markets: plastic waste | ISWA

34) Could China's 'green fence' prompt a global recycling innovation? | The Guardian

35) 3 billion people worldwide lack access to controlled waste disposal facilities | EUWID

36) Malaysia to return 3,000 tonnes of contaminated plastic waste | Financial Times

37) Plastic Bags | How it is made

38) Recycling Plastic Packaging | British Plastics Federation

39) Marine Debris Program Report : Entanglement | NOAA

40) Marine Debris Program Report : Ingestion

41) Odours from marine plastic debris induce food search behaviours in a forage fish | Report

42) Video captures moment plastic enters food chain | BBC / Dr Richard Kirby

43) The Lure of Landfills: How Garbage Changes Animal Behavior | NRDC

44) What Happens Inside a Landfill? | Live Science

45) New study reveals the global impact of debris on marine life | Report University of Plymouth

46) 80 Kg Plastic Waste Removed From Cow's Stomach After 3-Hour Surgery In Bihar | IT

47) 30 Kg Plastic Can Be Found in Every Dead Cow in India, Says Union Environment Minister | NDTV

48) Threat of plastic pollution to seabirds is global, pervasive, and increasing | Report

49) 'White revolution' to 'white pollution'—agricultural plastic film mulch in China | Report

50) Microplastics in the Terrestrial Ecosystem: Implications for Lumbricus terrestris (Oligochaeta, Lumbricidae). | Report - PubMed - NCBI

51) Histopathological and molecular effects of microplastics in Eisenia andrei Bouché | ScienceDirect

52) Uptake of fluorescent nano beads into BY2-cells involves clathrin-dependent and clathrin-independent endocytosis. | Report - PubMed - NCBI

53) Plastics in sea surface waters around the Antarctic Peninsula | Report

54) Origin, dynamics and evolution of ocean garbage patches from observed surface drifters | Report

55) Turtle Cut Free From 6-Pack Rings Is Unstoppable 20 Years Later | The Dodo

56) Aquatic Plastic Debris | University of Illinois Prairie Research Institute

57) More than half the world’s sea turtles have eaten plastic, new study claims | The Washington Post

58) Bubble-butt turtles rise among thousands of new additions to MOA aquarium | Win Cities Pioneer Press

59) Sea Turtle Injuries | The Turtle Hospital

60) Plastic waste associated with disease on coral reefs | Report

61) Billions of pieces of plastic on coral reefs send disease soaring, research reveals | The Guardian

62) Microplastic Moves Pollutants and Additives to Worms, Reducing Functions Linked to Health and Biodiversity | Report

63) Plastic not so fantastic | Scientific American

64) Plastics Emit Greenhouse Gases as They Degrade | The Scientist

65) Single-Stream Recycling | HuffPost

66) Downcycling process of plastic? | Quora

67)Almost no plastic bottles get recycled into new bottles | CNBC

68) One of the most influential economists in the world explains why a carbon tax is a good idea | Business Insider

69) Before the Flood | National Geographic

70) Carbon Tax, Its Purpose, and How It Works | The Balance

71) What is a circular economy? | Ellen MacArthur Foundation

72) THE NEW PLASTICS ECONOMY RETHINKING THE FUTURE OF PLASTICS | Report

73) Neste to collaborate with Licella in utilization of waste plastic | Licella Holdings

74) Creating biofuel from plastic waste | The Guardian

75) Biodegradation and Mineralization of Polystyrene by Plastic-Eating Mealworms | Report (ACS Publications)

76) Biodegradation of Polyester Polyurethane by Endophytic Fungi | Report - Applied and Environmental Microbiology

77) Polyethylene bio-degradation by caterpillars of the wax moth Galleria mellonella Current Biology | Report

78) A bacterium that degrades and assimilates poly(ethylene terephthalate) | Report - Science

79) Biodegradable plastics are not the answer to reducing marine litter | UN News

80) Behaviour of biodegradable plastics in composting facilities | Report - ScienceDirect

81) Chitosan, a sleeping giant waiting to be woken | Bio Based Press

82) Surf and earth: how prawn shopping bags could save the planet | Nottingham University Press

83) Mycelium Packaging | Ecovative Design

84) Microsilk | Bolt Threads

85) Could seaweed solve Indonesia's plastic crisis? | The Guardian

86)Production of carrageenan from seaweed (Eucheuma cottoni) with KOH treatment | Report - AIP Conference Proceedings Vol 1840, No 1

87) WKeep it Out of the Stream | Orb Media

88) Eating our way out of the plastic waste dilemma | Plastics Today

89) A brief history of how plastic straws took over the world | National Geographic

90) Number of plastic bags produced – worldwide, this year | Oceanwatch Australia

91) 3.5 billion reasons why sustainable toothbrushes could be big business | Bio Market Insights

92) First Mile launches new coat hanger recycling service to prevent millions of hangers going to waste each year | British Plastics and Rubber

93) Cell phone sales worldwide 2007-2017 | Statista

94) Number of smartphones sold to end users worldwide from 2007 to 2018 | Phonecase Business