New Bank Creates Currency from Plastic Waste in the Ocean
What if all the plastic trash currently polluting waterways could be used as currency? Photo: Shutterstock
New Bank Creates Currency from Plastic Waste in the Ocean
What if all the plastic trash currently polluting waterways could be used as currency? Photo: Shutterstock
I have to include an 2015 update to what seemingly was a ban in 2012, was in reality. a choice to pay .5 – .10cents for plastic bags if you want them? The good news is that the transition to an actual ban on plastic as a choice is happening in some parts of Washington state! YAY I have been shaking my head for the last 2yrs when more often than not the checker goes into auto-reaction mode and grabs the plastic if the consumer didn’t bring their own. I am not sure what I expected, but having forgotten my own bags on several occasions the response or offer for a reusable bag was seldom or none and makes me wonder just how much of an impact is being made since the statistics are probably tainted with how many plastic bags are given out each day versus paper or offering a reusable bag. Now, in this year of 2015, no plastic bags are available at more grocery stores and if you don’t have your reusable some of the clerks actually say paper or you can buy one of ours …. finally.
In March of 2012, I heard that Alameda County California voted to implement their “ban” on single use bags not regulate them sometime around January 2013. It just so happens that at or around the same time things were being finalized in different parts of our beautiful state of Washington. Though it has been a long struggle for Washington State to move towards an ordinance that would “ban” bags at retail outlets due to big MONEY in the plastics industry. However, in late December, word was that the City Councils Zero Waste Initiative to “ban” plastic bags in limited and in graduated way realized after four years. In 2008, the Council banned Styrofoam and though they tried to regulate plastic bags they got serious push back from the industry, which spent about $1.4 million, collected signatures with rumors of leaving out some info … then had the ordinance repealed. It was nice to read about Council Bill 117345, a bill to protect Puget Sound, our marine wildlife and our Environment in general joining about twelve states and up to twenty nations. The Seattle City Council voted 9-0 to implement the ban on plastic carry out bags.
After years of pulling out my small recycled bags for the checker to shove my groceries into, Washington State is joining the global movement to protect marine wildlife; the ordinance will take effect on July 1, 2012. It may be a cliché, but this ordinance is a change we can all believe in. I have to say, at first; in my experiences; checkers seemed a little annoyed at having to fight with the reusable bags. The word from most Checkers back in the day was, that plastic is just easier. Yes, the first reusable bags were too small, the dye ran the material was unforgiving, but as folks found better ways to make them; the cost came down and more people bought them including me.
Now, the bags not only cost a little bit more, they are bigger more stylish, last forever are definitely more flexible, and a highly recommended investment. The move to switch from plastic to” bring your own bag” will be difficult for some at first; I intend to carry a few extra to give away or sell; on my website because documented studies show that birds, sea turtles and other wildlife eat plastic bags and some are made with toxic chemicals that could be harmful. The time for a behavior change is now. We all know change is tough, but here we are in the 21st Century and that floating garbage circle, called the ” Great Pacific Garbage Patch“ discovered in the 90′s by Charles Moore, is only getting bigger. There will always be push back from the plastics industry, their supporters as well as environmental activists who all feel the government does not go far enough and they may be right, but we have to start somewhere.
It baffles me at how complicated people have made the effort to clean up our environment; we all know the need to reduce TRASH as a whole starts at home, although Seattle is the 15th largest metropolitan area in the nation, only 13 percent of plastic bags are recycled or re-used.
We owe it to our next generation…
Grocery stores, as well as food service outlets owe it to consumers and the environment.
It took quite sometime and we’ve come a long way from fighting the plastic industry to now finding that Indeed some Grocers feel the same way by eliminating plastic bags period ~ 2015
stay tuned in … who are the enforcers?
Get This Eco-Friendly 100% Organic Bag great for Shopping& the Beach-
repost from 2013
By John R. Platt
7 May 2015
(Takepart) – For the first time, plastic particles have been found in the stomachs of tuna and other fish that are a staple of the human diet.
More than 18 percent of sampled bluefin, albacore, and swordfish caught in the Mediterranean Sea and tested in 2012 and 2013 carried levels of plastic pollution in their bodies, according to a study published in the journal Marine Pollution Bulletin.
All three species migrate between the Mediterranean and the Atlantic Ocean, so these plastic particles could make their way onto the plates of American consumers. The plastics found in the fish contained phthalates, nonylphenol, bisphenol A, brominated flame retardants, and other chemicals that previous research has linked to endocrine disruption, low reproductive rates, and other health risks.
A 2010 study by French and Belgian marine biologists estimated that 250 billion pieces of microscopic plastic were floating in the Mediterranean. A 2014 expedition by Gabriel Gorsky of Pierre-et-Marie Curie University found that “there is not one parcel of the Mediterranean Sea that is devoid of plastic or plastic fragments.” Another study published last year estimated that all of the world’s oceans combined carry more than 5 trillion pieces of plastic pollution.
The current study of large pelagic fish (which live in the open sea, away from the shores or the bottom of the ocean) examined 56 swordfish, 36 bluefin, and 31 albacore that had been caught in the Mediterranean. Of those fish, seven swordfish, 11 bluefin, and four albacore contained plastics in their stomachs.
The plastics varied in size from large pieces more than 25 millimeters wide to microplastics smaller than 5 millimeters. The swordfish were more likely to have ingested large fragments of plastic, while the albacore ingested mostly microplastics.
Most of the pieces were white or transparent, while some “yellowish” plastics were found in the stomachs of the swordfish and bluefin.
As large, “top of the food chain” predators, the fish could have picked up plastic that had first been eaten by smaller fish; a study published last year found that Mediterranean bogue, an important prey species for swordfish, ingest large quantities of microplastics. The researchers, from the Institute for Environmental Protection and Research in Italy, wrote that other plastics could have been ingested while the tuna chased schools of prey fish into shallow waters, where floating plastics are more abundant. [more]
ABSTRACT: This study focuses, for the first time, on the presence of plastic debris in the stomach contents of large pelagic fish (Xiphias gladius, Thunnus thynnus and Thunnus alalunga) caught in the Mediterranean Sea between 2012 and 2013. Results highlighted the ingestion of plastics in the 18.2% of samples. The plastics ingested were microplastics (<5 mm), mesoplastics (5–25 mm) and macroplastics (>25 mm).
These preliminary results represent an important initial phase in exploring two main ecotoxicological aspects: (a) the assessment of the presence and impact of plastic debris on these large pelagic fish, and (b) the potential effects related to the transfer of contaminants on human health.
States are continuing to consider strategies to reduce the number of plastic carry-out bags from grocery stores and other retail outlets. Some states are targeting paper bags as well. Regulating bags can mitigate harmful impacts to oceans, rivers, lakes and the wildlife that inhabit them. Reducing bag use can also relieve pressure on landfills and waste management.
In August 2014, California became the first state legislature to enact legislation imposing a statewide ban on single-use plastic bags at large retail stores. Governor Jerry Brown signed the bill into law on September 30. The ban will take effect on July 1, 2015.
In addition, there will be a 10 cent minimum charge for recycled paper bags, reusable plastic bags, and compostable bags at certain locations. A detailed summary of the law can be found below. In addition to California, a de facto statewide ban exists in Hawaii as all of the most populous counties in the state prohibit non-biodegradable plastic bags at checkout, as well as paper bags containing less than 40 percent recycled material. Bans in Kauai, Maui and Hawaii counties took effect between 2011 and 2013. Retailers in Honolulu County have until July 1, 2015, to make the change.
In 2009, the District of Columbia enacted a law to ban the distribution of disposable, non-recyclable plastic carry-out bags and set a fee of 5 cents for distribution of all other disposable bags.
In 2009, North Carolina banned plastic bags for the Outer Banks region, a chain of barrier islands off its coast. However, in 2011, the state passed legislation to temporarily suspend that ban due to a tornado that hit Dunn, North Carolina, which is the major distribution center for paper bags in the area. The ban has yet to be restored.
As mentioned above, California lawmakers passed the first statewide plastic bag ban in the United States in 2014. Senate Bill 270 was signed by the governor on September 30, 2014. Legislation is pending in New Jersey and Puerto Rico that would also ban single-use bags. New Jersey legislators are also considering a $0.05 fee on disposable carryout bags offered at the point of sale.
States have continued to propose and enact legislation relating to labeling, recycling, and reusing plastic bags. In 2010, California passed legislation that requires manufacturers of compostable plastic bags to ensure that the bag is readily and easily identifiable from other bags. That same year, Delaware enacted an At-Store Recycling Program. The legislation encourages the use of reusable bags, requires stores to establish an at-store recycling program that provides an opportunity for customers of the store to return clean plastic bags, requires that plastic carry-out bags display a recycling message and provides fines and penalties for noncompliance. Illinois passed similar legislation, the Plastic Bag and Film Recycling Act, in 2012, but it was vetoed by the Governor.
Statewide Ban on Single-Use Carryout Bags (2014 CA S 270)
Prohibits certain large stores, as of July 1, 2015, from providing a single-use plastic carryout bag to a customer, with specified exceptions. Prohibits a store from selling or distributing a recycled paper bag, reusable plastic bag or compostable bag at the point of sale unless the store makes that bag available for purchase for at least $0.10 and certain conditions are met. The ban does not apply to handle-less plastic bags used to protect meat and produce from damaging or contaminating other purchased items. After July 1, 2016, these prohibitions and requirements will take effect for smaller stores such as convenience food stores. Revenue will be retained by the store to offset costs associated with providing recycled or reusable bags and complying with other provisions of the law. Persons or entities that violate the law may be subject to civil penalties imposed by the city, county or state of California.
Requires reusable grocery bags sold to customers at the point of sale to be made by a certified producer and to meet certain criteria with regard to the bag’s durability, material, labeling and heavy metal content. In addition to these requirements, a reusable bag made from plastic film, as opposed to other natural or synthetic fibers, must meet certain benchmarks for recycled material content by 2016 and 2020. Beginning July 1, 2015, bags made from plastic film may not be sold or distributed unless certified by a third party entity. Applications for certification must include specified information that verifies, among other things, the incorporation of clean postconsumer recycled material.
Declares that it occupies the whole field of regulation of reusable grocery bags, single-use carryout bags, and recycled paper bags and prohibits a local public agency from enforcing or implementing an ordinance, resolution, regulation, or rule adopted on or after September 1, 2014, relating to those bags, against a store unless expressly authorized. Allows a local public agency that has adopted such an ordinance prior to September 1, 2014, to continue to enforce and implement that ordinance or other type of regulation, but preempts any amendments other than to increase the bag charge at covered stores.
A sum of $2,000,000 is appropriated from the Recycling Market Development Revolving Loan Subaccount to the state Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery to provide loans for the creation and retention of jobs and economic activity in California for the manufacture and recycling of plastic reusable grocery bags that use recycled content. (09/30/2014 – Enacted)
Compostable or Marine Degradable Plastic Bags (2010 CA S 228)
Requires a manufacturer of a compostable plastic bag to ensure that the bag is readily and easily identifiable from other bags. Prohibits a compostable plastic bag sold in the state from displaying a chasing arrow resin identification code or recycling type of symbol in any form. Requires a manufacturer to comply with these requirements only to the extent that labeling requirements do not conflict with federal requirements. (09/28/2010 – Enacted)
Recycling: Plastic Products (2012 CA S 567)
Prohibits the sale of a plastic product labeled as compostable, home compostable, or marine degradable unless it meets standard specifications or a specified standard, or the plastic product is labeled with a qualified claim and the plastic product meets that standard. Prohibits the sale of a plastic product that is labeled as biodegradable, degradable, decomposable, or as otherwise specified. Provides for a civil penalty for a violation. Provides for the continuation of plastic bag labeling provisions. (10/08/2011 – Enacted)
At-Store Recycling Program (2006 CA A 2449)
Retail stores must adopt an at-store recycling program. Plastic bags used at retailers must have clearly printed “Please Return to a Participating Store for Recycling” on the bag. Retailers must also make reusable bags available for purchase by the customer, in lieu of plastic bags. (Repealed January 1, 2020)
At Store Recycling Program (2009 DE H 15; Amended by 2014 DE H 198)
Encourages the use of reusable bags by consumers and retailers, requires a store to establish an at-store recycling program that provides an opportunity for a customer of the store to return clean plastic bags, requires all plastic carryout bags to display a recycling message, requires stores to maintain records of collection and recycling of plastic bags, prohibits imposition of a plastic bag fee upon a compliant store, provides for fines and penalties. (08/17/2009 – Enacted)
Recycling Program (2012 DE SCR 24)
Requests a report and suggestions for improvement on the at-store recycling program of plastic carryout bags for the purpose of improving the program and bettering the environment. (06/29/2011 – Enacted)
Anacostia River Clean Up and Protection Act (2010 DC B 150)
Protects the aquatic and environmental assets of the District of Columbia, to ban the use of disposable non-recyclable plastic carryout bags, to establish a fee on all other disposable carryout bags provided by grocery stores, drug stores, liquor stores, restaurants, and food vendors, to give the Mayor the authority to implement rules and procedures to collect the fee, to establish a non-lapsing recurring Anacostia River Cleanup and Protection Fund. (09/23/2009 – Enacted)
Checkout Bags (2010 ME S 131)
Convenes a work group, through a partnership with state agencies and other appropriate entities, to work together towards a viable solution to the checkout bag issue to achieve environmental benefits, maintain financial viability for manufacturers and retailers and avoid cost impacts for consumers, provides for a report to the legislature. (05/19/2009 – Enacted)
Recycling Plastic Bags (1991 ME LD 1166)
Retailers may only provide customers with plastic bags if there is a receptacle to collect used plastic bags with twenty feet of the entrance and all the plastic bags collected are then recycled.
Plastic Bag Reduction, Reuse and Recycling Act (2008 NY A 11725)
Retailers of stores are to establish in-store recycling programs that provide an opportunity for the customer to return clean plastic carryout bags to be recycled. The plastic carryout bags provided by the store must have printed on them “Please return to a Participating Store for Recycling.”
Plastic Bag Use (2010 NC S 1018)
Reduces plastic and non-recycled paper bag use on North Carolina’s outer banks (a sea turtle nesting area). A retailer subject to G.S. 130A-309.102 shall display a sign in a location viewable by customers containing the following notice: “[county name] County discourages the use of single-use plastic and paper bags to protect our environment from excess litter and greenhouse gases. We would appreciate our customers using reusable bags, but if you are not able to, a 100% recycled paper bag will be furnished for your use.” Please see additional NC bills for identical language regarding the use of plastic bags and fines. (06/24/2009 – Enacted)
Plastic Bag Management (2011 NC S 146)
Suspends the ban on plastic bags in certain coastal areas due to a disruption in the supply of paper bags because of the severe tornados. The major distribution center for paper bags used by retailers in the areas subject to the ban was located in Dunn, NC, but was severely damaged and rendered unusable by the tornados of April 16, 2011. The General Assembly finds that the suspension of the requirement until the supply chain for paper bags is restored is in the public interest. This act becomes effective April 16, 2011. (04/20/2011 – Enacted)
**Suspends the above bill.
Promotion of Paper Bag Usage (2008 RI S 2565)
To decrease use of plastic bags, this legislation promotes the use of paper bags by retailers. Retail establishments must offer the use of a paper bag to the consumer. Every retail establishment that provides customers with plastic bags must provide conveniently located receptacles where customers can return their clean and dry plastic bags to be recycled. Failure to comply with these laws is punishable with fines up to $500.
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|Bits of plastic called microbeads are polluting our oceans.
These bits of plastic are called microbeads and you can find them in everything from face soaps to body washes to toothpastes. And while they’re almost invisible to the naked eye, they’re causing serious problems for our waterways and oceans (and us!).
Most wastewater treatment can’t filter out the tiny microbeads — meaning they journey from your bathroom drains into waterways. Once there, they end up in the bellies of fish or other marine life and are passed along the food chain.
National legislation has been introduced in Congress to ban the sale of personal care products that contain plastic microbeads. It’s part of an ever-growing movement that needs your voice.
This doesn’t end in the water. Today’s plastic face wash is in tomorrow’s sushi.
Many fish species that humans eat are known to consume these microbeads at an alarming rate, and the toxins absorbed in those plastics transfer to the fish tissue.
The toxins absorbed by plastic microbeads include pesticides, flame retardants, motor oil and more. And all that ends up in the oceans — and on our plates. We have to act.
The Story of Stuff Project, an organization I founded, is leading a coalition of over 100 groups to get these tiny plastic beads out of everyday products. Greenpeace is proud to be a part of this coalition.
This is a perfect example of the underlying problem with our current economic system and the culture it helps create. Natural alternatives to microbeads exist. But plastic microbeads are smoother than natural alternatives like apricot shells, jojoba beans and pumice.
Smoother is better for the companies making these products because smoother means these cleansers will be less effective at exfoliating… which means you can use them everyday… which means you buy more of the product!
Sadly, it also means poisoned oceans and a poisoned food supply. Plastic pollution in our waterways has become one of the great perils facing our environment. We can do something about it.
Thanks for all you do.
Executive Director, Greenpeace USA
P.S. Tiny pieces of plastic called microbeads are polluting our waterways and oceans. Tell your elected federal representatives to ban microbeads by supporting the Microbead Free Waters Act today!