“There are no really historical records of the volume and type of material that was spilled in the oceans before the establishment of an anti-dumping law. However, it is estimated that in 1968, 38 million tons of excavated material, 4.5 million tons of industrial waste, 4.5 million sewage sludge, 100 million tons of petroleum-based product (plastic), 2 to 4 tonnes of chemical waste, more than 1 million tons of heavy metals were released into the ocean. The U.S. archive shows that between 1946 and 1970 over 55,000 containers of radioactive waste were disposed in 3 sites of dumping of the Pacific Ocean. In addition, 34,000 tons of radioactive wastes were disposed in 3 sites of dumping of the U.S. east coast between 1951 and 1962. No law on dumping radioactive waste has been put into force before 1972.”
It may appear unintuitive that special toilets could benefit hippos and other wetland species, but the Center for Rural Empowerment and the Environment (CREE) has proven the unique benefits of new toilets in the Dunga Wetlands on Lake Victoria’s Kenyan side. By building ecologically-sanitary (eco-san) toilets, CREE has managed to alleviate some of the conflict that has cropped up between hippos and humans for space.
Little Shekeena tests a basket constructed from recycled ghost nets - one of many innovative art and craft projects aimed at turning fishing debris into usable objects.
Every year off the north coast of Australia, thousands of lost and discarded fishing nets are intercepted by GhostNets Australia. These nets are an incredible threat to marine wildlife and have been known to entangle turtles, fish, dolphins, sharks, crocodiles, seabirds… even the occasional SCUBA diver.
GNA are a team of Indigenous Australians committed to protecting Australian waters. Since the organisation began in 2004, they have removed over 7,500 ghost nets and saved the lives of many marine animals - mostly sea turtles!
But GNA are not only active offshore. A huge part of their approach is what they do with the nets after they’re pulled in. There are many art and recycling projects that encourage the re-use of ghost nets which takes some of the pressure off local land fills. The result is quality hand-made, eco-items - from baskets, to bags, to hammocks and more! Check it out!
- Photograph by Sue Ryan 2009
Aluminum cans and plastics are two of the most commonly recycled materials in the U.S., according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Recycling plastics and aluminum cans decreases the need for landfill space and reduces greenhouse gas emissions. Both materials begin the recycling process in the same manner: collection at curbside or drop-off sites and delivery to processing sites. Plastics require extensive sorting compared to aluminum cans, but the resulting material is more versatile.
Plastics account for more than 12 percent of all municipal solid wastes, which equals 30 million tons per year. However, only about 7 percent of those plastics were recovered from recycling in 2009, states the EPA. The most commonly recycled plastics include jars and bottles. Aluminum products account for 1.4 percent of municipal solid wastes. The majority of aluminum wastes include beverage cans and other containers. In 2009 more than half of all aluminum cans produced came from recycled aluminum. Recycling aluminum uses 95 percent less energy than creating it from scratch; recycling plastics uses about 70 percent less energy than creating new materials.
Aluminum cans are inspected for dirt and separated from other food or beverage containers. After a refining process, the aluminum cans are melted into solid metal blocks called ingots. These blocks ship to manufacturers that form the metal into new aluminum cans.
Since there are multiple types of plastic, each containing different materials, plastics must be sorted before recycling. The resin code, which appears on the bottom of many plastic products, indicates the type of plastic. Workers at recycling plants will clean and sort the plastics. Machines grind the plastics into flakes and immerse them in a flotation tank to remove contaminants. After the plastic flakes dry, they are melted and shaped into pellets. Manufacturers purchase the plastic pellets, which can be melted again and shaped into new products.
While the majority of recycled aluminum is made into new cans, an increasing amount of aluminum goes to automobile manufacturers. Aluminum auto parts are lightweight and increase fuel efficiency in vehicles. Manufacturers of clothing, furniture, beverage bottles, textiles and carpets purchase recovered plastics. More recycled-plastics manufacturing is possible in the U.S., but recycling centers are not receiving enough plastic recyclables to support increased production.
The “Plastic Waste-to-Fuel System” is designed to provide a practical and cost effective solution to plastic waste management with energy regeneration. A prototype machine can process three tonnes of plastic waste into 1,000 litres of fuel oil per day…
More pictures here.
Dart Container Corporation
Printed on the side of my polystyrene smoothie cup, this is the sort of nonsense that huge corporations spin. I would hope that there is more paper cup than polystyrene (or foam) cup waste, as paper is non-toxic and quickly biodegradable. Polystyrene however, is argued by many to be worse for the environment than plastic.
A green sea turtle recently washed up dead on a New South Wales beach in Australia - it was found to have over 300 pieces of plastic debris lodged in its guts. This is a new and depressing record.
“Unfortunately we counted 317 pieces of plastic from the lower intestine of the turtle and there is no question what caused the death of this animal,” said Rochelle Ferris, General Manager of Australian Seabird Rescue.
Plastics floating in the ocean can resemble small fish, squid and jellyfish and other marine creatures which are also sea turtle food. According to a recent study, around 36 percent of sea turtles are affected by marine debris, which is scary considering the various other human pressures they face on top of this. Trawling, hunting, long-line fishing, egg poaching… the list goes on. All species of marine turtle are in serious, serious trouble - except for one which has insufficient data.
Image: The famous photograph of the contents of a dead sea turtles stomach. It included plastic, glass and many other forms of human rubbish.