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Analysis Shows We’ve Been Overestimating the Amount of Plastic in Oceans by 30x

in Enviroment 238 views

Scientists in the Netherlands have shown quite convincingly that the issue of plastic pollution in our oceans is far smaller than anyone believed.

Their research highlights a variety of good news tidbits: the first one being that abstract scientific modeling can be more than just wrong, but completely wrong, and the second is that organizations pulling trash out of the oceans and rivers today aren’t simply mowing a golf course with nail clippers: they’re making a significant difference to these ecosystems.

According to the Netherlands Times reporting on the study, estimates for how much plastic has made it into the oceans over the last 20 years range from 50 million tons to 300 million tons, but the actual amount is likely somewhere around 3.2 million tons.

20,000 measurements described as “reliable” informed the calculations of oceanologist Mikeal Kaandorp and his team, with highlights being that rivers bring much less plastic into the oceans than previously thought, and that microplastics are a significantly smaller percentage of plastic waste.

The NL Times says that large models on the amount of plastic entering the oceans are based on how much plastic has been made, how much has been recycled, how much has been buried or incinerated, and how much is missing.

Based on these figures, environmental organizations reckon that 10 million tons end up in the oceans every year, most of which come via river systems. However, Kaandorp stresses that the unaccounted-for plastic has never been accounted for, and it’s wrong to simply assume that every piece ends up in the ocean.

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5 U.S. States Are Repaving Roads With Unrecyclable Plastic Waste–And Results Are Impressive

in Transportation 145 views

Headache-inducing plastic waste such as printer cartridges and plastic bags are being turned into aggregate material for asphalt road mixtures around the country.

Plastic roads have built up a head of scientific steam recently, with scientists and regulators seeing roads as a decent place to reutilize plastic that is difficult to recycle in a cost-effective manner.

Pilot programs are ongoing in Missouri, Pennsylvania, Virginia, California, and Hawai’i, with transportation regulators monitoring performance and durability of the roads, and environmental regulators on the lookout for potential microplastic contamination.

All in all plastic roads could be a big part of future societies, as the programs all show good results, and for the moment at least, no microplastic pollutant runoffs in several states.

Last year GNN reported that a stretch of Australian highway was completed with millions of used facemasks, while another in America has taken to adding shredded tires.

stretch of road in Hawai’i between Kilaha Street and the beginning of Fort Weaver Road near Cormorant Avenue is testing a recycled polymer mixture in its asphalt that contains the equivalent of 150,000 water bottles.

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Fishermen Getting Paid to collect plastic trash at Sea, As Indonesia Slashes Pollution

in Enviroment 149 views

In Indonesia, small-time fishermen are being paid as part-time ocean cleanup crews, as the archipelago seeks to tidy their seas and raise awareness among stakeholders at the same time.

The Ministry of Fisheries announced on October 4th they had stashed around $70,000, or 1 billion rupiah, with which to pay fisherman for any plastic trash they recovered from the oceans.

Many countries around the world are setting environment or climate goals for themselves. One of the largest contributors of ocean going plastic waste, Indonesia is looking to shake off that reputation by spending $1 billion over the next 3 years to reduce plastic entering the oceans from their shores by 70%.

If an Indonesian fisherman working off the main islands can collect 4 kilograms of trash per day, the government will pay out around $10 for it, which is slightly more than they would get if they spent their day catching fish to sell at market prices.

“This activity is very simple,” Sakti Wahyu Trenggono, the fisheries minister, said at a press conference in Jakarta. “But at least this will raise awareness among the stakeholders at sea and the people around the world.”

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in Astronomy 197 views

A thin film of plastic was, for the first time ever, turned into tiny diamonds in the blink of an eye after being shot at with a laser beam.

Synthetic diamonds are valuable for their hardness and are used to make high-quality cutting and polishing tools, but equally so for their thermal conductivity, and electrical insulation.

Opening up synthetic diamond production from plastic could lead to more demand for water bottles and other containers which often end up in the sea.

The breakthrough also has implications for planetary science, and the researchers who managed this philosopher’s stone-like transformation said it sheds light on what goes on inside the ice giants Neptune and Uranus.

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