Biodegradable plastics – not so great for our ocean, says UN

plastic-pollution-beach-ocean-0122.jpg.662x0_q70_crop-scale

#reduce #reuse #recycle #rethink using #plastic

Source: http://www.treehugger.com/ocean-conservation/biodegradable-plastics-not-so-great-oceans-says-un.html

… biodegradable plastics rarely actually degrade because they require long-term exposure to high-temperatures (around 122F, or 50C), like those found in large municipal composters, to actually break-down. Those conditions are not found very often in nature, and especially not in the oceans.

Biodegradable plastic sounds like a wonderful idea when you first hear about it. Most plastics are notorious for how long they stick around and how hard it is to break them down naturally, so to think that all those bits of plastics that end up scattered to the four winds could just melt away harmlessly sounds almost too good to be true. And well, once you read the fine print, it kind of is…

A new report by the United Nations looks at these so-called biodegradable plastics and their impact on oceans, and compared to the theory, reality is a lot less rosy. The biodegradable plastics rarely actually degrade because they require long-term exposure to high-temperatures (around 122F, or 50C), like those found in large municipal composters, to actually break-down. Those conditions are not found very often in nature, and especially not in the oceans.

To add insult to injury, once those biodegradable plastics are in the oceans, the water reduces UV and oxygen exposure, so they degrade even slower than they would otherwise… Basically, biodegradable label or not, those plastics will be there for a very long time. And even when they do break down, after years, the small pieces still pose a threat and just add to the existing microplastics problem that we’ve written about in the past.

Plastic in oceanLindsay Robinson/University of Georgia/Promo image

On top of all this, biodegradable plastics are less recyclable than regular plastics, and they can contaminate the feed of recycling plants:

“If you’re recycling plastic you don’t want to have anything to do with biodegradable plastics,” says Peter Kershaw, one of the authors of the UNEP study. “Because if you mix biodegradable with standard plastics you can compromise the properties of the original plastic.”

So unless we can somehow make biodegradable plastics that actually degrade under regular conditions fairly rapidly without causing problems, and that can also be easily recycled, or at least kept out of recycling plants, maybe these aren’t the best idea. It might make people feel good when they see the label, but if they don’t work as intended, then it’s just greenwashing.

Source: http://www.treehugger.com/ocean-conservation/biodegradable-plastics-not-so-great-oceans-says-un.html

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#7 – bees wraps, bags and worms

What a wonderful journey to reducing plastics and less waste.

A recent gazetted hard rubbish Council pickup weekend was such great fun.  And a fantastic source of ‘trash’.  Terracotta pots, a worm farm, trestle horses, planter box and yucca’s – to mention a few.  Thanks Palm Beach, for your generosity, and great rubbish.  Check out the leather rug, cardboard containers and chairs, a co-collector picked up. Seriously choice trash.  (And I never thought I would hear myself say that.) 3 car boot loads in total.

Finally, this change feels tangible.  The bees wax wraps are excellent, although for some reason I still have small reservation as to the longevity of the wrap and look forward to being pleasantly surprised.

Another wonderful experience was searching (google) for alternate local products.  Not only did I find and order from a local company  but I was also invited to meet at the same place – Boomerang Bags , (check out the community engagement work they do as well.  Truly remarkable),  and to then be invited to attend a function out at Tallebudgera Valley – thank you, and thank you Anthony Hills from Plastic Pollution Solutions for the introduction.

I’m a farmer as well.  A worm farmer.  Well, thats what it said on the starter box.  Hopefully I won’t smell rank now with WanderLightly ‘s deo!

#6 – plastic paradise. the great pacific garbage patch

This post isn’t directly about personal change, but to share a remarkable video that came to my attention today that fortifies my decision for change and to reduce plastics from daily life.

http://www.sbs.com.au/ondemand/video/450695235564/plastic-paradise

Synopsis: Thousands of miles away from civilization, Midway Atoll is in one of the most remote places on earth. And yet it’s become ground zero for The Great Pacific Garbage Patch, syphoning plastics from three distant continents. In this independent documentary film, journalist/filmmaker Angela Sun travels on a personal journey of discovery to uncover this mysterious phenomenon. Along the way she meets scientists, researchers, influencers, and volunteers who shed light on the effects of our rabid plastic consumption and learns the problem is more insidious than we could have ever imagined

The film runs for just under one hour and is available for purchase, digital download and for education at http://plasticparadisemovie.com

1958 a wooden boat lots of fish – 2008 plastic bottle boat, few fish

A Tribute to Don McFarland by Planet Experts

In 1958, Don McFarland was one of four men who built a 9 ton wooden box and drifted to Hawaii in 69 days. Exactly 50 years later in 2008 I did the same, but used 15,000 plastic bottles with a Cessna 310 aircraft tied on top of it. This trash raft, called Junk, was intended to show the world how trash adrift in the ocean can travel thousands of miles. We rafted more than 2600 miles in 88 long days from Los Angeles to Hawaii.  But in this 50 years the ocean had changed.

Don talked about seeing sharks every day, catching tuna and mahi-mahi whenever he wanted. On our journey, we saw almost no fish, but we did see and ocean polluted with microplastics. I can confidently say that if you are adrift in the ocean today you cannot rely on the oceans bounty to keep you alive. We have overfished and polluted our seas.

What gives me hope, is that when we create MPA’s, or marine protected areas, fish populations come back stronger. When we create legislative policy about plastic products that pollute our oceans and must be redesigned, we find last trash in our seas. When we care, we can change.

Sadly, Don McFarland died last week. Hats off to a man that loves the ocean, and knew a life at sea better than most.

Source: http://www.planetexperts.com/a-tribute-to-don-mcfarland/