plastic

The avalanche of plastic waste that's rolling over land and sea has inspired numerous potential solutions. Some involve inventing our way out of the mess by creating new kinds of natural materials that will harmlessly degrade if they're thrown away.

Others say it might be quicker to change people's throwaway behavior instead.

Plastic waste gets a lot of attention when photos of dead whales with stomachs full of plastic bags hit the news. Pieces of plastic also litter cities, and tiny plastic particles are even floating in the air.

Largely overlooked is how making plastic in the first place affects the environment, especially global warming. Plastic actually has a big carbon footprint, but so do many of the alternatives to plastic. And that's what makes replacing plastic a problem without a clear solution.

If civilizations are remembered for what they leave behind, our time might be labeled the Plastic Age. Plastic can endure for centuries. It's everywhere, even in our clothes, from polyester leisure suits to fleece jackets.

A Silicon Valley startup is trying to get the plastic out of clothing and put something else in: biopolymers.

Drew and Joan Norman have been producing organic vegetables on 60 acres just north of Baltimore since 1983. On a recent spring day, signs of another new season at One Straw Farm were everywhere: seedlings in the greenhouse waiting to be transplanted, asparagus ready to be picked, tiny leaves of red- and green-leaf lettuce sprouting out of the ground — and rows and rows of plastic covering the ground on each field.

The largest habitat for life on Earth is the deep ocean. It's home to everything from jellyfish to giant bluefin tuna. But the deep ocean is being invaded by tiny pieces of plastic — plastic that people thought was mostly floating at the surface, and in amounts they never imagined.

The death of a baby dolphin over the weekend off Fort Myers Beach may have been caused by plastic that filled its stomach. The news comes at the same time moves by cities to ban single-use plastics may be killed by state lawmakers.

Updated at 5:44 p.m. ET

Darrell Blatchley received a call from the Philippines' Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources early Friday morning reporting that it had a young Cuvier's beaked whale that was weak and vomiting blood.

Within a few hours it was dead.

Blatchley, a marine biologist and environmentalist based in the Philippine city of Davao, gathered his team to drive two hours to where the whale had washed up.

Plastic garbage from Trader Joe's and an AARP card are peeking out of hillocks of plastic trash piling up in Indonesia.

It's a sign of a new global quandary: What should wealthy countries do with their plastic waste now that China no longer is buying it?

For years, America sold millions of tons of used yogurt cups, juice containers, shampoo bottles and other kinds of plastic trash to China to be recycled into new products.

And it wasn't just the U.S. Some 70 percent of the world's plastic waste went to China – about 7 million tons a year.

MARCO VERCH / FLICKR COMMONS

Delray Beach commissioners voted Tuesday to ban single-use plastic straws in restaurants by mid-2020.

The city is the first in Palm Beach County to pass this kind of ordinance.

Competing bills that concern regulating plastic straws and bags have also reached the state Legislature.

Plastic trash is littering the land and fouling rivers and oceans. But what we can see is only a small fraction of what's out there.

Since modern plastic was first mass-produced, 8 billion tons have been manufactured. And when it's thrown away, it doesn't just disappear. Much of it crumbles into small pieces.

Islamorada Backs Off From Ban On Plastic Straws

Aug 10, 2018
plastic straws
Fairywren/Flickr Creative Commons

The Village of Islamorada for now will not join a growing list of municipalities, including Miami Beach, that have limited the use and sale of plastic straws.

People are talking a lot about plastic straws these days — how international corporations like Starbucks and Marriott International are banning them, and the deleterious impact they have on the environment.

The days of plastic straws are drawing shorter.

Marriott International on Wednesday became the latest big company to announce it will stop using plastic straws, saying it would remove them from its more than 6,500 properties by next July. The giant hotel chain said it will stop offering plastic stirrers, too.

Washed Ashore

Guests for Sundial for Tuesday, May 8, 2018:

 

Ryan Petty is the father of Alaina Petty, one of the victims of the Parkland shooting. He sits on the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission, which had its first meeting last month. On Sundial, Petty discussed what happened at the meeting and the process of making high schools safer for students.

Corpus Christi Caller-Times via Miami Herald

With nesting season opening this week, Florida's sea turtles may face yet another threat from the plastic pollution choking the world's oceans.

According to a new study from Florida State University researchers, tiny, sesame seed-sized microplastics in sand could be heating up beaches and changing the balance of male and female sea turtles. Researchers sampling sand at loggerhead nesting sites along the Gulf Coast found the beads at every location they tested, with the concentration higher in dunes where turtles nest.