Author Archives: datlas

The Ocean’s Plastic Garbage – A Serious Environmental Hazard

Our world’s oceans are home to five growing plastic gyres – vortexes of swirling ocean currents filled with degrading plastic that pose a serious threat to marine life.

Captain Charles Moore, noted author and oceanographer, has spent years conducting ocean and coastal samplings documenting plastic fragments along the 40,000 miles of the North Pacific Ocean. Captain Moore was the first to discover the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, otherwise known as the Pacific Gyre, which lies in the northern Pacific near Hawaii. This is the largest of the known gyres – roughly 12,400 square miles in size and growing – and filled with swirling fragmented colorful plastic debris.

Plastic in the ocean takes roughly 600 years to degrade fully. Marine life like sharks, dolphins, whales and numerous species of fish mistake these colorful remnants of our castoff trash as food, often suffering starvation due to the trash being indigestible. Oddly, it’s only the colored plastic they go for, though the clear plastic is also hazardous. Plastic water bottles are regularly found tangled in ocean coral, littering the ocean floor.

Plastic garbage doesn’t just stay in the ocean. Storms periodically break gyres up, pushing waves of trash onto beaches around the globe. Hawaii’s Kamilo Beach is frequently known as Plastic Beach due to its continually being overrun with plastic trash brought in by the ocean’s waves.

This plastic comes in all sizes and forms – discarded toothbrushes, combs, cups and, of course, plastic water bottles. Plastic trash discarded in Asia and Europe makes its way to the ocean, gets caught in the Indian Ocean gyre, then gets pushed back again to litter the once pristine shoreline.

We use 2 million plastic beverage bottles every 5 minutes in the U.S.

“No one is (looking) at it as a global phenomena and at the root causes (to) try to make it stop,” said Cecilia Nord, Vice President – Floor Care Sustainability and Environmental Affairs of Swedish-based Electrolux.

“We need to make it stop,” she said.

“Only we humans make waste that Nature can’t digest,” says Moore.

ENSO Bottles realizes that what’s needed is a shift in thinking as well as action.  By creating their innovative biodegradable plastic bottle with the ENSO additive, these PET-based bottles break down, rather than contribute to the world’s plastic pollution. It’s part of ENSO’s commitment “to act as environmental stewards.”

With plastic trash increasing the world over, and the devastating effect this has on marine life, it’s crucial for consumers to become responsible stewards who take on recycling to a level not seen before is needed.

Individuals doing their part can make the difference.

The wobbly “truth” about the success of plastic recycling

According to the 2009 Report on Post Consumer PET Container Recycling Activity, recycling increased 28% in the US for the 6th consecutive year.

This statistic was touted in the news as an ever-growing commitment by consumers across the country to recycling efforts. But all is not what it seems.

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Choosing the more eco-friendly plastic

All plastic is not alike.

Oxo biodegradable plastic fragments into small pieces animals mistake for food

Consumers have gotten somewhat familiar with what can or cannot be recycled. But few consumers understand what oxo biodegradable plastic is or the impact that it has on the environment.

Oxo Biodegradable Plastic (OBD) is a polyolefin plastic – a type of transparent plastic often with an oily or waxy feel to it – that’s had small catalytic amounts of metal salts and/or heavy metals added to it.

According to the Oxo-Biodegradable Plastics Association, “until the plastic has degraded, it has the same strength, impermeability, printability and other characteristics of normal plastic.”

This statement, however, is misleading. The nature of oxo biodegradable plastic is that it begins to break down almost from the point of its manufacture. This is what gives it a limited shelf life. Manufacturers have tried to combat this by adding anti-oxygen components to the plastic. This, however, weakens the polymer and ends up contaminating the recycling stream. Also these salts and metals are inorganic materials and, because they don’t break down, will remain in the soil or environment long after the material itself breaks down.

This type of plastic poses a real hazard to the environment.  Its components break down in fragments, small pieces that are often mistaken by animals for food. There’s no real scientific evidence that small microbes are breaking the plastic down to its natural elements.

ENSO bottles won't contaminiate the recycling stream or the environment

ENSO plastic bottles are more environmentally-friendly.

ENSO’s additive is comprised of organic renewable sources. The additive doesn’t react to anything in the plastic, allowing it to retain its original strength, rather than breaking down when exposed to light or oxygen as oxo biodegradable plastic does.

ENSO bottles only begin to break down when placed in a dirt or some other microbial environment that allows microbes to colonize on the plastic, utilizing it as a food source  then beginning the process of breaking it down to its basic components of biogas and biomass. ENSO bottles can also safely be integrated into the recycling stream without any worries of contaminating it.

The difference between plastics can be both simple and profound. The type you use can either have a negative impact on the environment such as with oxo biodegradable plastic or a more neutral impact as with ENSO bottles.

Which one you choose makes a difference.

Corn Lobbyists don’t get the final word

California’s governor vetoed SB-1454 despite its intent to clarify misleading labeling

The recent demise in California of legislative bill SB-1454 took some by surprise. This cleverly written piece of legislation was designed supposedly to clarify misleading labeling claims and would prevent the sale of plastics in California whose packaging is labeled not only biodegradable but also compostable. 

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