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Plastics

Ohio Public Radio

State lawmakers are considering two Republican-backed bills eliminating current and future bans on single-use plastic bags enacted by local governments.  

vtdigger.org

Bans on single-use plastic bags in Bexley and in Cuyahoga County are scheduled to take effect in January. 

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR. I'm Terry Gross. I don't know about you, but I've been really confused lately about how and what I should be recycling. And I'm confused about what happens to my recycling after it's carted away. I'm referring to plastics and paper as well as electronics, including old phones and computers. We used to ship a lot of our waste to China for recycling. But recently, China stopped taking it. Now what? What are governments doing and what is industry doing to deal with the problem of waste?

The World Health Organization says there's not enough evidence to conclude that microplastics — which exist nearly everywhere in the environment and show up in drinking water — pose any risk to human health, but it cautions that more research is needed to draw firm conclusions.

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.

Public shame.

That's the tactic one Canadian grocery store used to get customers to ditch single-use plastics and instead utilize reusable shopping bags.

Shoppers who didn't bring their own bags to East West Market in Vancouver, British Columbia, left with groceries in plastic bags that read "Wart Ointment Wholesale," "Into the Weird Adult Video Emporium" or "The Colon Care Co-Op."

delawareonline.com

Bexley is one of three Ohio communities banning the use of plastic shopping bags to help protect the environment. 

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.

Two governmental bodies on Tuesday approved legislation banning the use of plastic bags. 

recorder.com

Bexley City Council today is expected to approve legislation banning plastic bags and other plastic products. 

When a marine biologist from Australia traveled to a remote string of islands in the Indian Ocean to see how much plastic waste had washed up on the beaches, here's just part of what she found: "373,000 toothbrushes and around 975,000 shoes, largely flip-flops," says Jennifer Lavers of the University of Tasmania in Australia.

And that's only what was on the surface.

Up to 1 million of the estimated 8 million plant and animal species on Earth are at risk of extinction — many of them within decades — according to scientists and researchers who produced a sweeping U.N. report on how humanity's burgeoning growth is putting the world's biodiversity at perilous risk.

Surprisingly high amounts of microplastic are raining down on a remote and seemingly pristine part of France's Pyrenees mountains, according to scientists who say such particles could potentially be floating everywhere.

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.

A diver in California has stumbled on an unexpected source of plastic waste in the ocean: golf balls.

As the balls degrade, they can emit toxic chemicals. And there appear to be lots of them in certain places underwater — right next to coastal golf courses.

A crew of engineers in the middle of the ocean will try to fix a device that was intended to clean the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, where an estimated 1.8 trillion pieces of plastic have coalesced into a field of debris twice the size of Texas.

The garbage catcher has been floating in the Pacific since its highly anticipated launch out of San Francisco in September, but it has yet to produce the results anticipated.

A dead sperm whale found in Indonesia had at least 13 pounds of garbage in its stomach, including 115 plastic cups and two sandals, according to a team of researchers including the World Wide Fund For Nature.

"Although we have not been able to deduce the cause of death, the facts that we see are truly awful," Dwi Suprapti, a marine species conservation coordinator at WWF Indonesia, told The Associated Press.

Microplastics have been found in human stool samples from countries in many parts of the world, according to a small pilot study being presented this week at the 26th annual United European Gastroenterology conference in Vienna.

The U.K. plans to ban plastic straws, stirrers and plastic-stemmed cotton swabs, Prime Minister Theresa May announced Wednesday at a meeting of Commonwealth nations.

"Plastic waste is one of the greatest environmental challenges facing the world," May said in a statement, in which she called the U.K. government "a world leader on this issue."

glc.org

The Great Lakes Commission says the region needs to drastically improve public water systems.

Sarah Dudas doesn't mind shucking an oyster or a clam in the name of science.

But sit down with her and a plate of oysters on the half-shell or a bucket of steamed Manila clams, and she'll probably point out a bivalve's gonads or remark on its fertility.

Few inventions in modern history have been as successful as plastic. It's in vehicles and building materials and most of our electronic devices. We wrap stuff in it and even wear it.

Now a research team has tallied up how much plastic has been produced and where much of it has gone. Turns out, it's literally almost everywhere.

ijc.org

The International Joint Commission is calling on the U.S. and Canada to take action against micro-plastics in the Great Lakes.

cleveland.com

Plastics account for approximately 80 percent of the litter on the shorelines of the Great Lakes, according to a new study by the Rochester Institute of Technology.