Canadians love putting food in petroleum products so much that we ship cucumbers and milk in plastic (yes, you can buy milk in plastic sacks). Thankfully, Canadians are starting to understand that plastic wrapping is wasteful and really bad for the environment. An agricultural company in Ontario has created a way to replace the plastic wrap put on cucumbers with a plant-based alternative.
These plastic-free cucumbers hit shelves the same week the federal government announced new details about its plan toban some single-use plasticsover the next 18 months, including straws, takeout containers, grocery bags and cutlery.
A 2019 Deloitte study found less than one-tenth of the plastic waste Canadians produce is recycled, equating to 3.3 million tonnes of plastic being thrown out annually, almost half of it is plastic packaging.
“Everybody wants to do their share when they’re talking about being [a] good environmental steward,” said DiLaudo.
Plastic waste is everywhere and the tinier the plastic is the harder it is to deal with. These microplastics are proving to be very difficult to address which has sent researchers looking into all sort of solutions. One solution is already up and running in some places: sand filters in water systems. It turns out that some existing sand filtration systems can capture plastic nano particles.
The results are now in, and they include some reassuring findings. In areportpublished today in theJournal of Hazardous Materials, the researchers show that even if untreated water contained considerable quantities of nanoplastics, these particles were retained in sand filters very efficiently during water treatment. Both in laboratory tests and in a larger test facility located directly on the premises of the Zurich Water Works, the biologically active slow sand filter was the most effective at retaining nanoparticles – achieving an efficacy level in the region of 99.9%.
The dangers of microplastics and “forever chemicals” are well known and now legislators in the European Union are acting to protect their people from these primarily petroleum-based creations. New restrictions on what chemicals can be used and sold a in the EU will add to their already strong protections.
The EU is set to add to and reformat their legislation around chemical use in consumer products to better protect people. One of the goals is to prevent companies trying to bypass the consumer protections by creating new chemical compounds which are more dangerous than the original. Increased standards in the EU tend to help people in other parts of the world because companies are forced to change their ways in such a large market.
The plan focuses on entire classes of chemical substances for the first time as a rule, including all flame retardants, bisphenols, PVC plastics, toxic chemicals in single-use nappies and PFAS, which are also known as “forever chemicals” because of the time they take to naturally degrade.
All of these will be put on a “rolling list” ofsubstances to be considered for restriction by the European Chemicals Agency. The list will be regularly reviewed and updated, before a significant revision to the EU’s cornerstoneReach regulationfor chemicals slated for 2027.
Nzambi Matee got tired of waiting for a solution to all the plastic waste she saw, so she created a company to deal with it. The material engineer opened a factory in Kenya where they turn plastics which can’t be recycled (with traditional methods) into bricks. She designed a concoction of hard plastics and sand to create a solid brick which has a comparable price to stone bricks. This is a neat solution to a global problem, her one factory has processed 20 tones of plastics since 2017!
â€œOur product is almost five to seven times stronger than concrete,â€ said Matee, the founder of Nairobi-based Gjenge Makers, which transforms plastic waste into durable building materials.
â€œThere is that waste they cannot process anymore; they cannot recycle. That is what we get,â€ Matee said, strolling past sacks of plastic waste.
Matee gets the waste from packaging factories for free, although she pays for the plastic she gets from other recyclers.
A materials company in Berlin wants to build the world using carbon taken our of the air – making it the first carbon-negative materials manufacture. Made of Air has sunglasses on the market and provides cladding material for buildings all made from a tried and tested method of capturing air based carbon, they then apply their unique method to make the carbon durable enough in these other settings. For every tone of plastic-like material they create they store about two tonnes of co2.
Over the next year, the company is ramping up its production capacity by 100 times to sequester 2,000 tonnes of CO2e each year.
Made of Air is a non-toxic bioplastic made from biochar. This charcoal-like material is almost pure carbon and is made by burning biomass such as forestry offcuts and secondary agricultural materials without oxygen.
Biochar has been produced for centuries and is increasingly being used as a fertiliser as well as a way of sequestering carbon in the soil.
Made of Air mixes biochar with a binder made from sugar cane to create a material that can be melted and moulded like a regular thermoplastic.