Wednesday 18th of September 2019

slowly killing us -- and the planet's other inhabitants -- in far greater number than terrorism...

war on waste

There is a difference between waste and pollution. Pollution is when waste and other manufactured products end up in our sources of survival. Our sources of survival and that of the other inhabitants of this little planet are food, air and water. Let's not be coy here: pollution has killed more people than all wars so far have managed to do. And one of our waste is CO2 which is a very natural product but in EXTRA quantities is creating global warming (see What is global warming?). Plastics are our other "bete noire".


The main difference between war, terrorism and pollution is intent. We are more frightened of intent than of reality. We have trouble to accept the death of 20 people in a nanosecond, yet we ignore the death of millions over several years. Statistics become our weapons of classified ignorance. That 5 million people die annually due to "pollution" becomes a safety valve in our consumption that at least 7 billion still manage to survive. It's a small price to pay for comfort. That some animal species die of plastic ingestion tells us we should be more careful "next time". Next time never comes. Next time was ten years ago, when we polluted the seas with plastic bits which are now coming into our food chain. Some pollutants have been verboten. But the list is cagey and not efficiently controlled.


Good on Craig Reucassel for reminding us we need to wage a "War on Waste". Recycling is our weapon, but it's still inefficient. Too much of our wastes from food to electronics end up on dumps. Some councils do their best to offer recycling services. Some stores delegate the recycle to specialised recyclers that often take the easy option: bank the cash and dump. We have to do better. Ban the plastic bag for example. In Europe, most supermarkets do not supply bags. It's bring you own. 


So please visit and do your best. I'm still struggling with some items, but I would say that I manage to recycle 99 per cent of food into leftovers and compost to grow more lettuces.

the problem with plastics...

One of the major problem into "reusing" plastics is that there are many forms of plastics that are incompatible. In the first place we should limit our usage of "disposable" plastics and other products including the coffee cup made of waxed paper. We are invited to "dispose of this packaging with regard to the environment" but the manufacturer of the product should be chastised for not showing regard to the environment for this product that will end up on a land fill anyway.


 There is some hope though of blending different incompatible plastics:


When Geoffrey Coates, a professor of chemistry and chemical biology at Cornell University, gives a talk about plastics and recycling, he usually opens with this question: What percentage of the 78 million tons of plastic used for packaging -- for example, a 2-liter bottle or a take-out food container -- actually gets recycled and re-used in a similar way?

The answer, just 2 percent. Sadly, nearly a third is leaked into the environment, around 14 percent is used in incineration and/or energy recovery, and a whopping 40 percent winds up in landfills.

One of the problems: Polyethylene (PE) and polypropylene (PP), which account for two-thirds of the world's plastics, have different chemical structures and thus cannot be repurposed together. Or, at least, an efficient technology to meld these two materials into one hasn't been available in the 60 years they've both been on the market.

That could change with a discovery out of Coates' lab. He and his group have collaborated with a group from the University of Minnesota to develop a multiblock polymer that, when added in small measure to a mix of the two otherwise incompatible materials, create a new and mechanically tough polymer.

The two groups' work is detailed in a paper, "Combining polyethylene and polypropylene: Enhanced performance with PE/iPP multiblock polymers," published online Feb. 23 inScience.

James Eagan, a postdoctoral researcher in Coates' group, is lead author of the paper. Other collaborators included researcher Anne LaPointe and former visiting scientist Rocco DiGirolamo.

Scientists for years have tried to develop a polymer that does what Coates, LaPointe and Eagan have achieved. By adding a miniscule amount of their tetrablock (four-block) polymer -- with alternating polyethylene and polypropylene segments -- the resultant material has strength superior to diblock (two-block) polymers they tested.

In their test, two strips of plastic were welded together using different multi-block polymers as adhesives, then mechanically pulled apart. While the welds made with diblock polymers failed relatively quickly, the weld made of the group's tetrablock additive held so well that the plastic strips broke instead.

"People have done things like this before," Coates said, "but they'll typically put 10 percent of a soft material, so you don't get the nice plastic properties, you get something that's not quite as good as the original material."

"What's exciting about this," he said, "is we can go to as low as 1 percent of our additive, and you get a plastic alloy that really has super-great properties."

Not only does this tetrablock polymer show promise for improving recycling, Eagan said, it could spawn a whole new class of mechanically tough polymer blends.

"If you could make a milk jug with 30 percent less material because it's mechanically better, think of the sustainability of that," he said. "You're using less plastic, less oil, you have less stuff to recycle, you have a lighter product that uses less fossil fuel to move it."

read more:

our regular business practice...

Officials from the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) acknowledged they regularly allow energy companies to exclusively preview and revise draft permits as a matter of common practice.

This admission follows DeSmog’s reporting on emails showing the state had quietly provided Spectra Energy (now Enbridge) several opportunities to edit a draft pollution approval permit for a compressor station in the town of Weymouth as part of its Atlantic Bridge gas project.

Following these revelations, concerned citizens and activists from around the state converged earlier this week on the DEP’s offices for two separate protests. Among their demands, protesters want the DEP to revoke the draft pollution permit and redo the application process using an independent body.

Officials agreed to see the protesters for ad hoc discussions. During the Tuesday protest, DEP’s Chief of Staff Stephanie Cooper acknowledged that the state environmental agency regularly sends draft approvals to the applicants for advance review and comment. Cooper defended the practice, claiming it assists the agency in receiving all the relevant information from the applicant. 

Cooper said:

“The practice of allowing the applicant to review and provide us feedback [i.e., on the draft approval permit] is one that we regularly undertake. We do that to make sure we have accurate information from them about their operation. It in no way means that they get to decide what is in the permit. We take their information, they make suggestions, as you saw happen in this instance. Sometimes we might take those suggestions, many times we don’t. So in no way is it collusion; it’s our regular business practice.”

Read more:

glass recycling is a mirror mirage...

Hundreds of thousands of tonnes of glass are being stockpiled and landfilled instead of being recycled, threatening to seriously damage the community's faith in the billion-dollar recycling industry.

Key points:
  • Australia consumes about 1.36 million tonnes of glass packaging per year
  • EPA regulations prohibit stockpiling large amounts of glass, but recycling plants say there is nowhere else for it to go
  • Hundreds of thousands of tonnes of glass is accumulating in recycling companies around Australia


Key industry insiders interviewed by Four Corners have described an "unsustainable situation" with glass which has "nowhere to go" because there is "no viable market".

Australia consumes about 1.36 million tonnes of glass packaging per year: wine and beer bottles, glass jars and containers.

Glass consumption is at its highest in New South Wales, which produces about 460,000 tonnes of used glass per year.

One recycling company, Polytrade, has decided to go public in an effort to raise awareness about the issues being faced by industry due to what it describes as a failure of regulation.

read more:

a plastic tropical island...


Just off the Caribbean island of Roatan lies a massive pile of floating garbage.

It spans kilometres of ocean and consists of everyday plastic items like chip packets, cutlery and ziplock bags and even thongs.

The emergence of this rubbish patch is likely due to recent hurricanes that struck the region, one of Australia's top scientists has said.

"It is shocking and it's very confronting", said Dr Britta Denise Hardesty, the principal research scientist for oceans and atmosphere at the CSIRO.


Read more:


See also:




a chinese refusal...

On January 1, China stopped accepting 24 categories of solid waste, disrupting the export of more than 600,000 tonnes of material out of Australia each year.

Now the ban has begun to bite and recycled waste is being stockpiled in warehouses in certain parts of the country.

North of Sydney, Hunter Resource Recovery CEO Roger Lewis says it was only a few months until the issue would reach "a critical point".

"There's only so many warehouses where you can put stock, and to lease warehouses is expensive," Mr Lewis said.

Read more:

the plastic planet...

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch, a rotating soup of plastic in the north Pacific Ocean, contains up to 16 times the amount of waste than previously thought.

Key points
  • Surveys of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch conducted in 2015 and 2016 estimate 78,200 tonnes of plastic waste are packed into an area almost the size of Queensland
  • This figure is much greater than previous estimates and has increased exponentially since the 1970s
  • Scientists were surprised to find that most of the mass was made up of larger pieces, such as fishing debris

That's the conclusion of a team of scientists who've conducted what is claimed to be the most comprehensive study of the patch's size and the debris floating in it to date.

Using a combination of drag netting and visual surveys from boats and an aeroplane, they estimated the patch is 1.6 million square kilometres in area — almost the same size as Queensland.

Packed into this area is more than 78,000 tonnes of plastic, the researchers report in the journal Scientific Reports.

Most of the mass was made up of pieces larger than 5 centimetres. While microplastics, which account for about 8 per cent of the mass, made up a bulk of the estimated 1.8 trillion pieces of plastic floating in the patch.


Read more:

plastic rubbish...

Fifty nations are now taking action to reduce plastic pollution, according to the biggest report so far from the UN.

It reveals that the Galapagos will ban single-use plastics, Sri Lanka will ban styrofoam and China is insisting on biodegradable bags.

But the authors warn that far more needs to be done to reduce the vast flow of plastic into rivers and oceans. 

What’s more, they say, good policies to curb plastic waste in many nations have failed because of poor enforcement.

Action against plastic waste has many drivers across the world. In the UK it has been stimulated by media coverage.

In many developing countries, plastic bags are causing floods by blocking drains, or they’re being eaten by cattle.

The report says policies to combat plastic waste have had mixed results. In Cameroon, plastic bags are banned and households are paid for every kilo of plastic waste they collect, but still plastic bags are being smuggled in. 

In several countries, rules on plastic exist but are poorly enforced.


Read more:




A huge clean-up is underway on the mid-north coast after piles of debris washed up from shipping containers that fell off a cargo ship off the New South Wales coast during rough seas.

Nappies, sanitary products and surgical masks were among the flotsam that washed up after 83 containers fell overboard from the YM Efficiency on Thursday, about 30 kilometres off the coast of Port Stephens.


Read more:

Read from top

eating microplastics...

Tiny pieces of plastic and other debris have been found in all mussels sampled from around the UK coast and supermarkets, researchers have said.

In samples of wild mussels from eight coastal locations around the UK and those purchased from eight unnamed supermarkets, 100% were found to contain microplastics or other debris such as cotton and rayon.

There is “significant and widespread” contamination by microplastics and other debris from human activity in coastal seawater samples, coastal mussels and supermarket-bought mussels in the UK, the study said.

Scientists from the University of Hull and Brunel University London said the results showed microplastics consumption by people eating seafood in the UK was likely to be “common and widespread”.

Every 100 grams of mussels eaten contains an estimated 70 pieces of debris, according to the researchers, whose study is published in the journal Environmental Pollution.

More research is needed to find out what the implications of consuming the small amounts of microplastic, they said.


Read more:

the sad suck-it-up from the christian post...

Our true problem, Freinkel suggests, is not plastic, but a culture with throwaway habits. We love to use products once and then toss them in the trash, on the ground, or into rivers and oceans. Changing public behavior and reducing the amount of plastic we throw away would go a lot further toward saving the environment than aggressive bans on one very tiny, inconsequential piece of plastic [plastic straws].

Christians ought to take environmental problems seriously. And that should mean looking for solutions that are effective. Our top environmental priority should be stewardship, not signaling. God entrusted this world to us—we should keep it beautiful and healthy.

Modern environmentalism, with its commitment to regulate almost every detail of our lives for very little ecological benefit isn't achieving that goal. Still, the folks in Santa Barbara and elsewhere are just going to have to suck it up and deal with life without straws.



The Christians spruikers talk a lot about stewardship, ministry and "truth". They don't realise that they only are a minority of people amongst many others who need to be coaxed into understanding "care". In fact most of what the Christian do when "they care" is prepare their own escape pod to heaven with lovely delusions, while trying to urge you to join them along. 

And by the way, that inconsequential piece of plastic straw can kill animals such as turtle and fish in horrid ways. We owe them not to pollute. It's nice (slightly Christian) to say don't throw away your plastic rubbish into the environment, but we have now many mountains of "plastic rubbish" that was collected and has nowhere to go but accumulate in more plastic mountains. And we produce more and more of the stuff daily... Is this keeping the planet "beautiful and healthy"?


Read from top.

the USA invade vietnam on its beaches...

It takes 45 minutes to pick up all the milk cartons that have washed up on Long Hai beach overnight. “I feel like all I do is collect them,” says Nguyen Thi Ngoc Tham, gesturing towards the quiet length of sand that fronts her beach house in the south of Vietnam. “I fill about three or four bags every morning, but then there will be a big wave, and when I look back over my shoulder the sand is covered again.”

Milk cartons aren’t the only rubbish that washes up on her shores; bottles of Coca-Cola float in the shallows next to odd shoes, bin bags and sodden bits of cardboard. Once or twice a year, there’s a dead body. “The milk cartons are the most difficult,” she explains. “I can get rid of everything else. Local waste pickers will buy the plastic and the paper from me, and I call the police for the corpses. Nobody will take the milk cartons from me.”

Milk consumption in Vietnam has almost doubled in the past 10 years, as the dairy industry shifts its focus from “saturated” western markets in favour of Asian expansion and is now valued at $4.1bn (£3.1bn). But one of the biggest beneficiaries of this growth seems to be the dairy industry’s principal packaging supplier, Tetra Pak. Last year, 8.1bn of Tetra Pak’s individual cartons were sold across Vietnam. Yet a comprehensive country-wide recycling programme is yet to be implemented. Now, as cartons pile up on beaches and in landfills up and down the country, that’s having a devastating effect on the environment.


Read more:


The USA could not win the war against Vietnam and took their revenge with cardboard boxes...



Read from top.

polluted paradise...

A mothballed mine in far north Queensland is leaching toxic water from a new 'seepage' point into neighbouring waterways, according to the State Government.

Key points:
  • This is a new seepage of contaminants into waterways, the environment department says
  • The Government has cancelled the company's mining leases
  • The mine owner contests the mine pit is the source of the seepage


It said the new leak is coming from a massive disused pit full of contaminated water at the Baal Gammon copper mine that sits next to a creek near the township of Watsonville, south west of Cairns.

Testing by the environment department found heavy metals including arsenic and cadmium in the seep water that was discovered after heavy rain hit the area in late January.

Locals are being warned not to use the water downstream in Jamie Creek for drinking or cooking.

"I would not have my kids swimming down here at all, no splash in the water, no bringing the dogs down for a swim," said mother of two Crystal Stone about a local swimming spot downstream in the Walsh River.

"It is very frustrating not being able to use this area… we live in an amazing area in tropical far north Queensland and here we are living right next to a river that we can't even use."

read more:



Read from top



killing whales...

A Philippines-based nongovernmental organization is calling on Manila ‒ as well as Filipino citizens ‒ to take immediate action to reduce and restructure plastic use after a young whale washed ashore and died as a result of what it described as an unprecedented amount of plastic waste in its stomach.

A male Cuvier's beaked whale passed away from emaciation and dehydration Saturday, March 16, just a day after it had washed ashore off the coast of the Philippines' Compostela Valley.

Local officials and fishermen attempted to release the whale upon discovering it, but the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources says the weak mammal ultimately returned to shallow water.

Upon collecting the creature from the beach, Davao's D'Bone Collector Museum carried out a necropsy that revealed the 4.7-meter-long juvenile whale had ingested about 40 kilograms of plastic within its short life.

The NGO, aided by the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, detailed in a Saturday Facebook post that at least 16 rice sacks, four plantation-style banana bags and several shopping bags were just some of the items retrieved from the creature's insides.

Read more:



Read from top.

and now, the plastic planet...

The plastics industry plays a major — and growing — role in climate change, according to a report published today by the Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL).

By 2050, making and disposing of plastics could be responsible for a cumulative 56 gigatons of carbon, the report found, up to 14 percent of the world's remaining carbon budget.

In 2019, the plastics industry is on track to release as much greenhouse gas pollution as 189 new coal-fired power plants running year-round, the report found — and the industry plans to expand so rapidly that by 2030, it will create 1.34 gigatons of climate-changing emissions a year, equal to 295 coal plants.

It’s an expansion that, in the United States, is largely driven by the shale gas rush unleashed by hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.

The petrochemical expansion also comes over the same period of time that international plans to reduce climate change call for rapid reductions in greenhouse gases from all sources — transportation, electricity, and industry.

“Humanity has less than twelve years to cut global greenhouse emissions in half and just three decades to eliminate them almost entirely,” said Carroll Muffett, president of CIEL, citing UN figures. “It has long been clear that plastic threatens the global environment and puts human health at risk. This report demonstrates that plastic, like the rest of the fossil economy, is putting the climate at risk as well.”

“If growth trends continue,” the report concludes, “plastic will account for 20 percent of global oil consumption by 2050.”

The new report, co-authored by Environmental Integrity Project, FracTracker Alliance, Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA), 5 Gyres, and Break Free From Plastic, looks at how plastic production carries major impacts for the climate as it goes from raw materials tapped by the fossil fuel industries all the way through its ultimate disposal or breakdown in the environment.


Read more:


Read from top.

destroying the world's budget on credit...

Scientists have spent considerable time calculating the amount of carbon dioxide the world can emit while limiting warming to internationally agreed upon temperature goals – well below 2°C (3.6°F), with efforts to limit warming further to 1.5°C (2.7°F). This amount is our “carbon budget.”

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) new report takes stock of the most recent literature on the carbon budget. The bottom line? We’re on track to blow through it over the next decade.


Read more:


Read from top.


The actual point of "no return" — the major tipping point — was 1996, as calculated by Gus, back then in 1994. One of the major considerations is to realise the delay between actual effects and causes due to feedback mechanisms that hide the reality of the warming.

a historic step to curb plastic waste...

Nearly every country in the world except the United States took a historic step to curb plastic waste last week, when more than 180 nations agreed to add plastic to the Basel Convention, a treaty that regulates the movement of hazardous materials between countries. The U.S. is one of just two countries that has not ratified the 30 year-old treaty. During negotiations last week in Geneva, the Environmental Protection Agency and State Department joined the plastics industry in trying to thwart the landmark, legally-binding agreement. Despite this, the United States will still be affected by the agreement, because countries will be able to block the dumping of mixed or unrecyclable plastic wastes from other nations. The amended treaty will make it much more difficult for wealthy countries to send their plastic waste to poorer nations by prohibiting countries from exporting plastic waste that is not ready for recycling. The U.N. estimates there are 100 million tons of plastic waste in the world’s oceans. We speak with Pam Miller, co-chair of the International Pollutants Elimination Network and executive director of Alaska Community Action on Toxics.



Read more:



Read from top

not a dumpster...

Indonesia said it won’t become yet another “dumping ground” of the world and returned five containers of waste back to US, joining the growing number of Asian nations that have recently been turning back Western ‘recyclables.’

The waste arrived in Indonesia from Seattle back in March. The cargo, shipped by a Canadian company, was supposed to contain paper recycling material, but the Environment and Forestry Ministry discovered multiple “impurities” inside five containers and ordered them to be “re-exported.”

The containers were filled with “significant amounts” of various plastic waste and shoes, in addition to other rubbish such as wood scraps, fabrics and even diapers. “Although the containers were originally from Canada, the country of departure was the US,” said Waste and Hazardous Waste Management Directorate general secretary Sayid Muhadhar.

This is not appropriate and we don't want to be a dumping ground.

Indonesia, which has a very limited capacity to recycle even its own plastic, has a decree banning the import of consumer plastic waste. Production waste in the form of clean paper and plastic scraps can still enter the country, if the Trade Ministry grants import license.


Read more:



Read from top.

pristine rubbish...

From afar it looks like pure, untouched paradise — and for the most part it is.

Key points:
  • The owners of Banubanu Wilderness Retreat say the plastic trash washing up on the shores of isolated Bremer Island is worse than ever
  • Turtles on the island are being impacted by the influx of waste, with signs that they're being forced to change their nesting habits
  • The NT's Indonesian consul said he hoped to visit some of the remote rubbish-hit beaches in July


But a luxury tourism retreat on the edge of East Arnhem Land is facing an uphill battle as wave after wave of plastic trash wash upon its shores, forcing owners to do everything they can to try to limit the environmental impact, and stem the loss of tourists.

Indigenous rangers have been working tirelessly to remove the rubbish. Schoolkids have camped on the island to help out.

But still the tides of endless trash refuse to abate, plaguing this paradise with an ugly eyesore and potentially long-lasting toxic threat.

"It is getting worse — it's overwhelming to the point where you feel 'what can we do? How can we deal with this?'," Helen Martin, co-owner of Banubanu Wilderness Retreat's co-owner, said.


Read more:



Read from top.

electronic dump...

Electronic waste from Western countries, including Australia, is flooding the shores of South-East Asian nations like Thailand, sparking fears of air and water pollution.

Key points: 
  • Environmental activists say there are many illegal e-waste processing facilities in Thailand
  • China banned the importation of foreign waste in 2018
  • Australia sent 250,000 kilos of e-waste to Thailand in 2018, a 500-fold increase on 2017


Global waste markets were upended in 2018 when China implemented tough new import restrictions on plastic and e-waste materials from foreign nations, forcing countries to find new markets.

Australia is among the countries taking advantage of the lax environmental regulations in Asia, redirecting trash China will no longer take to countries like Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia. 

But the rapid shift in global markets has had a devastating flow-on effect to communities now dealing with a flood of contaminated waste. 

In Thailand, scores of new sorting and recycling companies — many of them illegal and with Chinese shareholders — have sprung up in provinces surrounding the country's main port of Laem Chabang.


Read more:


Read from top.