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7 posts from September 2010

September 21, 2010

A Safe New Way to Dispose of BPA

White-rot-fungus-1 Scientific American 5.10.2010

A new strategy for disposing of plastic containing the pollutant Bisphenol-A was recently published in the journal Biomacromolecules.

Researchers experimenting with fungus already used for bioremediation pre-treated plastic with ultraviolet light and heat. They buried the treated plastic and used untreated plastic as a control group, exposing both to a variety of microorganisms already used for bioremediation (cleaning up polluted sites by way of intentional exposure to certain life forms--fungus in this case).

One year later the control plastic remained untouched, while the treated plastic had been completely broken down by the microorganisms, leaving no trace of the endocrine disruptor.

Check out the abstract in Biomacromolecules or the Scientific American Podcast that brought it to our attention.

American Samoa Bans the Bag

USA Today 9.2.10

U.S. territory American Samoa has signed a law banning stores from handing out plastic shopping bags.

The law will take effect Feb. 23, and excludes biodegradable shopping bags and compostable plastic bags.

This ban was signed only a few days after California rejected a very similar law, although a growing number of California cities have taken steps to ban bags at a local level. Some of these cities include San Francisco, Palo Alto, Malibu, and others.

Read the full article here.

Our Take: We like their commitment to reducing consumption, however it's fees - not bans - that are the best way to go. Ireland's PlasTax reduced plastic bag consumption by 90% in its first year alone.

Dutch Plan to Turn Waste Into Living Space

Ventnor Blog - 6.30.10

A group of scientists from Holland are planning to construct an "Eco Island" by collecting and recycling just under 100 million pounds of plastic bottles from the Pacific Ocean.
 
The plan is to create a completely habitable island and populate it with about 500,000 people. The proposed island would be the size of Hawaii, self-sufficient for food, and would use solar and wave power to supplement its power supply.

Read the full story here.

Our Take: This is a clever way to raise worldwide awareness of a plethora of issues concerning waste. The project touches on everything from land usage, carbon footprint reduction and power consumption to plastic waste and the polluted state of our oceans.
 
Sadly, the amount of plastic to be used in the proposed island would be less than 20% of the amount disposed of by the US in just 2008, and we've already called plenty of attention to the folly of trying to solve the plastic bag problem through recycling.

BPA Wiping Out Lobster Population

Lobster-die-offs Treehugger 8.11.10

Scientists at the University of Connecticut recently linked a major decline in the population of lobsters native to the New York coast with a rise in a few pollutants, including bisphenol A(BPA) from plastic waste.

The three-year, $3 million dollar study claims that a specific group of pollutants are working as endocrine disruptors. This lengthens the maturing lobsters' molting cycle, leaving them without chitinous armor for weeks at a time. This further results in deformities, increased susceptibility to disease, and in many cases, death. The coastal lobster population has declined 85% in the last twelve years.

Read the whole article here.

Our Take: Most of us have heard about BPA leaching from some plastic bottles. This article just offers further cause for worry. This data confirms the no-brainer advice we've been giving for years - avoid BPA as much as possible. And remember, it's not just plastics that pose a risk. Cans are another important source of BPA

Catastrophes like this come from decades of mindless waste and pollution. Buy high-quality reusables; they won't wind up floating in the ocean and they don't contain toxins like BPA to begin with.

Plastiki Completes Voyage

S-PLASTIKI-large The Huffington Post - 7.23.10

The Plastiki has been sailing the Pacific Ocean since mid-March and recently reached the destination of its maiden voyage. The journey lasted four months and spanned approximately 8,300 miles from San Francisco to Australia.
 
The expedition aimed to raise awareness of plastic over-consumption. The Plastiki's hull was constructed of more than 12,000 empty plastic bottles. The Plastiki website estimated that over the course of the intercontinental excursion, the United States used more than 8.7 billion plastic bottles.

Read the full article here.

Our Take: Interesting way for an eccentric heir to draw attention to the problem of water-bound plastics and illustrate how plastic garbage can be reused in innovative ways. For more, read our article on plastic's impact on oceans.

Greener Polycarbonate Production

BPAfreeBottles Researchers from the Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology in Singapore have developed a new method of polycarbonate production that could be used to manufacture BPA-free bottles in the near future.

The bottles would be non-toxic and leach-free, plus the production method would literally take greenhouse gasses out of the air and use them as ingredients to create the bottles. The new polycarbonate can contain 40% C02 by volume. Read the full article here.

Our Take: While this new technology is only in its infancy, the adoption of such green-friendly practices by companies such as Eastman-Tritan(link to Eastman Tritan FAQ) would mark notable progress to reducing our carbon footprint, and another reason to feel good about using a high-quality reusable bottle.

September 08, 2010

California lawmakers reject bag bans

ABC.com 9.1.10

This September, lawmakers rejected AB 1998, a measure that would ban single-use grocery bags in grocery stores and pharmacies throughout the state of California. The law included a provision that stated shoppers could buy one for 4 to 6 cents during check-out.

Those opposing the bill crossed partisan lines, with both Democrats and Republicans claiming the bill would take too much freedom out of the hands of the everyday consumer.

Read more about it on ABC.com.