Europe Bans Single Use Plastics

money

Plastics last a long time before breaking down, which makes them a major problem for the natural environment. This year we’ve seen a big push to ban “single use” plastics due to the environmental damage they bring. Plastic bag bans have been implemented in reasonable places and now the European Union is doing even better: they’re banning the ridiculous use of plastics in consumer goods.

The directive targets some of the most common ocean-polluting plastics.

The list of banned items such as cutlery and cotton buds was chosen because there are readily available alternatives, such as paper straws and cardboard containers.

Other items, “where no alternative exists” will still have to be reduced by 25% in each country by 2025. Examples given include burger boxes and sandwich wrappers.

MEPs also tacked on amendments to the plans for cigarette filters, a plastic pollutant that is common litter on beaches. Cigarette makers will have to reduce the plastic by 50% by 2025 and 80% by 2030.

Another ambitious target is to ensure 90% of all plastic drinks bottles are collected for recycling by 2025. Currently, bottles and their lids account for about 20% of all the sea plastic, the European Parliament report said.

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Stick it to Straws

People are more aware than ever before about the damage to our planet caused by plastics. The whole life-cycle of plastics causes harm from collecting non-renewable oils to the long lifetime of most plastic products. Plastic has even been found at the bottom of the Mariana Trench (video below)! Of course, campaigns exist to try to reuse plastic use on a industrial scales while increasing recycling capacity. There is something that you can do today to help reduce plastic waste: skip the straw when you order a drink.

So we wanted to help out reducing the plastic straw. Today. Not waiting for politicians or governments to take action but just by the power of people. So we made a little sticker that can help to change our habits. A friendly one that bar owners can appreciate (because they can buy less straws)

Made by the Lieke. aka Liekeland. Everything she draws looks just..beautiful. I’d highly recommend to check out her website, best enjoyed with a cup of tea.

OK back to it. You can find 3 different stickers in this download kit.
1: Menu Stickers. Small to stick on the drink section on a menu
2: Counter Stickers. Slightly bigger and contain some extra information, perfect to stick on the bar or counter
3: Street sticker. Spread the word on the streets. Simple but effective! (we occasionally sell a few in our bazar)

Read more and get the sticker kit.

Straw

Breakdown Plastic Using Digestive Enzymes

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Recycling polyethylene terephthalate (PET) plastics is difficult as the hard material is tough to breakdown. For years there’s been research into using bacteria to eat the plastic to help with getting the plastic to reusable state. This year a bacterial enzyme called “PETase” has been found to be highly effective at breaking down this hardened plastic. The enzyme itself comes from a bacteria that was found within a plastic recycling plant (nature always finds a way) which was subsequently modified to be more efficient. This discovery may lead to a healthier use of plastic, but for now the best thing you can do is buy less plastic objects.

They compared the DNA sequence of the PETase gene with that of cutinases from thousands of bacterial species, looking for differences. They then created new versions of PETase, each with one or more of its amino-acid building blocks changed to resemble those of ancestral cutinases.

As many of the differences between PETase and cutinases were, presumably, what allowed PETase to do its job, they expected these new enzymes to digest the plastic less efficiently. To their surprise, however, one of the engineered enzymes (with two amino acids mutated to be more cutinase-like) was able to digest PET about 20% faster than the natural one. That is a modest increase, but one that came about by accident rather than design. This, Dr McGeehan argues, shows there is plenty of scope for further improvement.

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Chile Set to Ban Plastic Bags in Coastal Cities

ocean shore

Chile is set to be the first country in the Americas to ban plastic bags in coastal cities. Given the extent of Chile’s coastline this can make for a very positive impact on cleaning up our oceans. Plastic bags are a major threat to maritime life so any reduction in use of plastic bags helps the planet. Hopefully Chile’s upcoming ban will inspire other nations to follow suit!

“It will allow citizens to contribute in terms of ocean protection. Thus, we will be the first American country to implement a law of this nature”, added.

Such measure is of vital importance to marine species as these are negatively affected by the presence of plastic in the sea. They are even likely to perish due to the so-called buoyancy disorders.

According to data provided by the Chilean Ministry of the Environment, 90% of sea birds have a certain type of plastic in their stomachs, which urges to pass a law on the matter, specially given that studies foresee that, by 2050, there will be as many fish as plastic in the sea.

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Make More Things Out of Recycled Plastics

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Over at Vice, one author asked a simple question: why don’t we make everything out of relayed plastic? The short answer is that oil is too cheap and companies don’t see benefits of recylcing plastics on their bottom line. Instead of championing for higher consumption taxes or waiting for oil to go up again some people are changing the technology behind recycling plastics. By making the process of recycling cheaper, consistent, and more efficient we can make recycling plastics a default decision for many companies (and leave that oil in the ground).

Garcia said researchers are now looking for new and more efficient ways to make, and break down, plastics. “Since we make plastics chemically, the way we treat them at end of life is also probably going to be chemical,” she said.

Garcia cited a number of examples, such as chemical recycling, where the plastic is exposed to a catalyst at a very high temperature, causing the underlying compounds to break down. It’s how scientists have been able to make fuel out of old water bottles. Garcia said this technique still requires a lot of energy, and is very expensive, but she believes scientists will eventually figure out how to use a similar process at a much lower temperature.

Read more.

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