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Thread: Great Pacific Garbage Patch, Plastic & Road Ahead

  1. #1
    Join Date
    03-12-08
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    Default Plastic; Great pacific Garbage Patch & The Road Ahead

    The existence of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is a staggering instance of the extent of plastic abuse.

    Imagine yourself sailing in a ship across the Pacific Ocean. After witnessing the sangfroid blue ocean, rich marine fauna, your ship will come to an expanse - literally spread hundreds of nautical miles filled with floating plastic garbage. Folks, I am not making this up. The Great pacific garbage patch exists and it happens because of debris getting jammed due to the currents of the North pacific Gyre.

    Closer home, the famed sea front near Gateway of India in Mumbai is at times dotted with black and white polythene bags. Another common sight in urban landscape are the heaps of plastic material (be it CDs, polythene bags, bottles etc) seen near garbage dumps and landfills. Fellow forum members might have noticed prevalence of plastic material in the droppings of herbivorous animals too.

    I would not like to call myself a technology phobic person and I am game for using technology for betterment of life; but lately this abuse of plastic is discomfiting me. Though, impact of plastic to environment and its slow bio-degradable nature is well known, we are doing pitifully nothing to address this threat.

    It’s not like we are doing nothing. For example, look beneath any plastic bottle; you will find a triangular mark with chasing arrows. The marking informs about how to recycle that plastic. Recently, a new type of biodegradable resin has made its debut in the United States, called Plastarch Material (PSM). It is heat, water, and oil resistant and sees 70% degradation in 90 days. Biodegradable plastics based on polylactic acid (once derived from dairy products, now from cereal crops such as maize) have entered the marketplace, for instance as polylactates as disposable sandwich packs.

    But still, today recycling of plastic has proved cumbersome and a costly affair.

    Are there any alternatives?

    It depends.

    We can lessen plastic usage by changing our habits. Next time when we go to the super market, we could carry a bag from home. You could connect with the super-market manager and extol him to use paper bags for packing. Buy rewritable CDs instead of writable CDs, better still; buy a high capacity pen-drive. Do not dispose polythene bags just like that; try reusing them (as garbage bags for example).

    But herein lays the challenge. Public habit cannot bring about change for good. The public is entitled to feasible alternative to plastic. Let’s be honest, plastic has great utility. What is needed is more investment; both in producing bio-degradable plastic and ways to recycle plastic products.

    This brings in an interesting dilemma:
    Plastic recycling should be the prerogative of:
    • We – the people (tax payers);
    • The government; or
    • The plastic manufacturers?

    I am ambiguous about it. Do we need higher funding to clear the plastic mess? Should an environment conservation cess be created; to be paid by the plastic makers & public for appropriate use?

    Or do we resign to realism?

    This reminds of Pixar movie Wall-E. The plastic waste on Earth became so widespread, humans left Earth for good to live in a gargantuan spaceship for 700 years. They delegated the responsibility of cleaning Earth to an army of robot, called Wall-E (Waste Allocation Load Lifter Earth). WALL-E compacts plastic debris and stacks them up into neat skyscrapers, so that non-biodegradable plastic occupies less space!

    Perhaps we could do that. Allocate a space as big as Mumbai in some remote part in India; compress plastic debris and stack them up so as to save space.

    What’s your view?
    Last edited by Ranbir Mahapatra; 24-12-2008 at 10:48 PM.

  2. #2
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    The Perils of Plastics:
    It was supposed to be a big gift to mankind. It is used everywhere and has increased our convenience. However, it is time to look at its impact.

    Every year we use billions of plastic bags. And each of those end up in landfills or drains or in our waterbodies. Unfortunately, most of us have no idea about the massive impact of plastics on the environment.

    The accumulation of plastic in municipal waste poses serious problems in the management of waste, especially the thin plastic wastes that are difficult to segregate. Municipal waste cannot be incinerated because of the presence of plastic in it. When you burn the waste containing plastics it releases dioxin - a class of 75 chemicals - which is carcinogenic and causes birth defects and other serious ailments.

    Plastic bags in the landfills also prevents the seepage of water thereby blocking the recharge of groundwater.

    There have been angry protests by people after the floodings in Bombay. People raised a hue and cry about plastics choking drains. There were also suggestions by people as to tie a knot to the plastic bags before throwing so that these plastic bags don’t inflate and choke the drains. Well, I know this idea would have originated from some well meaning individual knowing our proclivity to litter without any remorse.

    When plastic bags are disposed in the urban areas, there are reports of stray cattle consuming them and dying. In villages surrounding the forests and wildlife sanctuaries, this problem goes unreported. To matters worse, wildlife issues don’t fetch votes. So the effect of plastics on wildlife though devastating goes unnoticed and unactioned.

    I was trekking in Masinagudi area bordering Mudumalai Tiger Reserve. I came across a polythene bag that had been swallowed by an elephant and the polythene had come out along with the dung. If it were any other animal, then it would have met sure death.

    Getting rid of the plastic bags ie. To ban plastics is easy. The question is how do you clean up this mess? Who will do it? Who is responsible?

    The Govt. doesn’t have any money for this. Neither the municipalities have money for this. The industry makes profit out of a product and ideally should pay for its end use and disposal as well. The producer should be held responsible for takeback of hazardous and non biodegradable products.

    It is easy to levy a cess on the plastic manufacturers and use it to create a fund for collection and disposal of plastic wastes. The money from the fund can be given to various municipalities and panchayats for collection of plastic garbage.

    You can take action:
    • You can send this link to people to educate them about the huge impact of polythene. Ask people to use biodegradable material and adopt safe disposal practices for their trash.
    • You can stop using polythene bags. When you go to the grocery shop, carry your own bags with you. Ask the grocery store not to give you polythene bags.
    • You can ask the authorities to set up waste bins and ensure regular trash collection.
    • At the moment few hillstations like Nainital have banned polythene bags. We can campaign to make more and more cities, especially places around our forests, rivers, lakes no polythene zones.
    • Spreading this message will help in stopping the ever increasing usage of non biodegradable materials like polythene. Let us all work towards a better tomorrow.
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  3. #3
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    Default Common pills, plastics making male fish lay eggs

    I found this article that talks about pills and plastics inducing feminine characteristics in fish.
    Sabyasachi

    Common pills, plastics making male fish lay eggs

    ANI 11 October 2009, 06:27pm IST
    WASHINGTON: Plastics, pesticides and even common prescription drugs are releasing synthetic and natural hormones into rivers and streams, which
    is leading to unintended consequences on wildlife, causing some male fish to become feminised and lay eggs.

    In a recent report, it was found that one third of small mouth bass were feminised in nine major U.S. river basins, and almost all of the rivers and streams tested in the United States contained some hormonally active chemicals.

    And now in a conference, the researchers are focussing on the long-term consequences of hormones and endocrine disruptors in the environment.

    "It is one of the hottest topics in environmental biology right now. The biological activity of these compounds both in terms of other species and, potentially, ourselves is something that scientists are becoming more and more aware of through research," said Dr. John McLachlan, director of the Tulane/Xavier Center for Bioenvironmental Research, which is hosting the conference.

    Now scientists are looking at the proliferation of prescription drugs like antidepressants, contraceptives and other medications that are ending up in wastewater after being taken by people.

    Most municipal water treatment systems don't have the ability to neutralize pharmaceutical compounds in wastewater so they end up in rivers and streams, said McLachlan.

    "They all end up in different places in the environment. What do they do to the wildlife that absorb them and, more importantly, what do they do to our water sources?" he says.

    A recent study found feminised male fish in almost a third of 111 sampling sites in nine major U.S. river basins and scientists are studying whether endocrine disruptors are responsible.

    Tyron Hayes, a leading expert in intersexed amphibians, will be speaking at the conference about his research on the effects of endocrine disruptors on wildlife.

    The conference also discusses how hormones affect the body and endocrine system and how they may play a role in diseases like breast cancer.

    The findings will be discussed in the Tenth International Symposium on Environment and Hormones (E.hormone 2009).

    The original article can be found here:
    http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/h...ow/5112683.cms


  4. #4
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    Default

    I am also sharing a link to photos taken by Chris Jordan - though captured faraway from us - to help us in understanding the impact of plastics. These photos details the impact of plastics on Albatross chicks that have washed up on an island the north of Pacific with their stomachs overflowing with plastic litter.

    He says, that contrary to received opinion, what has been dubbed “the Pacific garbage patch” is not a vast floating raft of rubbish.

    “The actual scenario is even more insidious. The plastic is all underwater, suspended invisibly below the surface, and breaking apart into smaller and smaller pieces. Much of it has already broken down into tiny fragments about the same size as plankton, being ingested by the hundreds of billions into the small fish that are the bottom of the food chain for all marine life. One of the reasons I went to Midway is because the plastic surfaces there in this bizarre way"

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/environmen...poison-pacific

  5. #5
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    And closer home, this is the impact. Carelessly thrown wafers packet would be chewed by herbivores due to the salt content. If you throw it near the road, the herbivores can get hit by a speeding car. If you throw it from a train, the herbivores can get runover by trains. And when they chew and swallow it, they die. So no respite from the plastics.

    Sabyasachi
    Attached Images Attached Images  

  6. #6
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    Govt rules out blanket ban on use of plastic bags

    New Delhi: The Government on Wednesday ruled out a blanket ban on plastic bags and said waste management at the local level should be improved to ensure that the waste did not become an environmental hazard.


    Replying to a question on plastic waste, Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh said in the Lok Sabha that "a blanket ban (on plastic bags) is not advisable."

    He said plastic is inherently not a public health hazard, but the inability to collect plastic waste leads to health hazards.

    Ramesh recalled that 20 years ago plastic bags were introduced to check deforestation.

    He said economic incentives like charging money for plastic bags could dissuade people from using it.

    The minister said several pilgrim centres like Tirupati, Dwarika, Sabarimala and Vaishno Devi have banned the use of plastic. Several states like Sikkim, Jammu and Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh have also banned use of plastic bags.

    Ramesh stressed that local administration and state governments should ensure a proper implementation of policies.

    Since plastic recycle industry is a source of employment, local authorities at times are reluctant to take action on its use, he said.

    Based on a field survey conducted by the Central Pollution Control Board, 15,722 tonne of plastic waste is generated in the country daily.

    Similarly, three major railway stations in Delhi generate 6,758 kg of plastic every day, while the waste generated at the domestic and international airports stood at 4,130 kg a day.

    To a question on mining and its effects on environment, he said it was necessary to maintain a balance between ecology and development activities.

    Ramesh said the Government was taking steps to ensure that activities like mining do not take a toll on the environment.

    He said while it was easy to say no to every project, it was necessary to maintain a balance between ecology and developmental activities.

    The minister said the Supreme Court has issued various orders and directions for suspension or closure of mining operations in different parts of the country, including Haryana, Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh and Goa.

    In the context of Aravali in Haryana, the Supreme Court has suspended all mining operations in the range till a reclamation plan, duly certified by Haryana Government, the Environment Ministry and the Central Empowered Committee, is prepared, he added.

    Link -http://www.zeenews.com/news622584.html
    Regards,
    Mrudul Godbole

  7. #7
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    Default Plastic causes worry in Gir for Forest Department

    Plastic causes worry in Gir for Forest Department
    Nov 29, 2011, 05.55AM IST

    AHMEDABAD: The day is not far when an Asiatic lion chokes on a plastic bag in the only place it calls home - the Gir forest. Environment activists have removed six tonnes of plastic from around Mount Girnar, which is home to 24 lions on the edge of Gir sanctuary.

    Every year, lakhs of devotees come for the four-day 'Lili Parikrama' that begins and ends at the Bhavnath temple on Mount Girnar. This year the parikrama began on November 6. In the process, devotees leave behind pouches of country liquor, gutkha packets, water bottles and wrappings of wafers and biscuits.

    The fair, organized by local people, sadhus, police and forest department officials, has now been curtailed to 9.6 km from the original 19.3 km that it was spread across. But the mountain of plastic only seems to be growing in size every year, especially since it has become a huge tourist attraction due to the 'Khushboo Gujarat Ki' ad campaigns. M A Kant, the Junagadh range forest officer , said they loaded more than 15 tractors with garbage after cleaning the forest.

    Junagadh MLA Mahendra Mashru , who helped in the clean-up , said, "We will need at least three to four more rounds to ensure all the plastic is removed from the forest." Forest officials are worried after post-mortem revealed there were plastic bags in the stomach of many of the herbivores that died in the forest. Herbivores like Chital, Sambhar and Nilgai are the main prey base of the big cats. The plastic waste when consumed by herbivores clogs their intestine, which results in death. An officer said lions usually don't eat plastic waste but there was a fear they may consume it while feasting on a herbivore. Dr Meena Venkataraman , a member of Wildlife Institute of India said, "The central government has already banned plastic bags and should definitely be kept out of a delicate ecosystem like Gir."
    Regards,
    Mrudul Godbole

  8. #8
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    Default Plastics: Fungi to come to our rescue?

    There may be some light at the end of the tunnel.

    Researchers from Yale University have claimed to found a fungi in the Amazon rainforests which can eat up polyurethane. In a paper published in the journal "Applied and Environmental Microbiology" they have mentioned that
    they isolated endophytes that live in the inner tissues of plant stems and screened them for their ability to degrade polyurethane. "Several active organisms were identified, including two distinct isolates of Pestalotiopsis microspora with the ability to efficiently degrade and utilize PUR as the sole carbon source when grown anaerobically."

    They further added "each of the more than 300000 land plant species on earth potentially hosts multiple endhophyte species." So further exploration of of properties of endophytes could potentially reveal many more properties and perhaps the ability to degrade other plastic compounds. Endophytes reach their greatest diversity in tropical rainforests. So it is imperative that we protect our tropical rainforests so that at sometime in future mankind may discover potential saviours in form of these endophytes who can help in removing the pollution that we are causing.

    More details can be found here: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencete...n-scourge.html

  9. #9
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    20-06-11
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    Default Consequences of Dumping thrash in Water bodies

    Video info "This video is about an island in the ocean at 2000 km from any other coast line.

    Nobody lives, only birds and yet ...............
    You will not believe your eyes!!!!!!!


    This film should be seen by the entire world, please don't throw anything into the sea. Unbelievable, just look at the consequences!!!!! "


    http://www.facebook.com/video/embed?...00089470495874
    Attached Images Attached Images  

  10. #10
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    Default

    Sad to see this again. This has been covered earlier in the great pacific garbage patch, plastics and road ahead article and thread. He has made some powerful imagery. Unfortunately, we continue with our sinful ways.

    I will merge this so that the information remains bunched together.

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