Researcher Compares Garbage Patch In Pacific Ocean To Floating ‘Landfill’

August 15, 2014 by admin  
Filed under plastic

LONG BEACH (CBSLA.com) — A massive patch of garbage floating in the ocean between California and Hawaii continues to grow and have an adverse impact on the ecosystem, researchers announced Friday.

KNX 1070’s Bob Brill reports Capt. Charles Moore and his research team are returning to their home base in Long Beach after nearly two months at sea studying the “Great Pacific Garbage Patch”.

Researchers Compare Garbage Patch In Pacific Ocean To Floating ‘Landfill’

Moore was part of a crew of scientists assembled by the Algalita Marine Research Institute who lived for 30 days in July amid the debris to evaluate long-term trends and changes in the Gyre by merging data collected over the past 15 years with new 2014 data.

But after spending nearly two months at sea studying to display samples of plastic pollution and to transfer fish samples to area research labs for testing to determine the extent of toxic infiltration into the ecosystem, Moore said the garbage patch appears to be getting worse.

Moore, who has studied the debris patch known as the Pacific Gyre for over 15 years, said the amount of pollution in the North Pacific Ocean has grown exponentially from plastic and trash washed into the sea by tsunamis, storms and other disasters.

“My mind is blown,” said Moore. “It’s like an landfill got inundated with water and all the stuff in the landfill started floating.”

As many as hundreds of miles of concentrated floating plastic in the North Pacific is visible to the naked eye, according to Moore.

The vast majority of the garbage usually hits well north and south of Southern California because of natural barriers such as wind and currents, but plastics could alter endocrine systems that are vital to the health of both fish and humans, said Moore.

“Enlarged and discolored livers in the fish, we’re looking at hormone disruption, the kind of things that we see in fish that are impacted by plastics in rivers,” Moore said. “We already know that many fish that are male have been feminized living downstream from places where there are chemical pollutants.”

Scientists say the primary risk with synthetic plastic debris is it can be easily confused with natural food due to its small sizes and lower-than-seawater density.

Moore and his crew are scheduled to dock at Alamitos Bay Landing in Long Beach around 4 p.m., according to officials.

Article source: http://losangeles.cbslocal.com/2014/08/15/researchers-compare-garbage-patch-in-pacific-ocean-to-floating-landfill/

Plane Search Raises Questions About Sea of Floating Junk

March 30, 2014 by admin  
Filed under Featured, plastic

By


HT malaysia map search plane ml 140328 16x9 608 Plane Search Raises Questions About Sea of Floating Junk

The search area for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 has been shifted nearly 700 miles northeast, March 28, 2014. (Australian Maritime Safety Authority)

The search for debris from missing Malaysia Airlines flight 370 has not turned up any evidence of a crash, but it has trained the world’s gaze on thousands of pieces of junk floating on the ocean’s surface.

Much of that debris could be made up of plastics, old appliances or parts of homes that have washed away from fragile communities, and cargo containers from ships, according to ocean advocacy group One World One Ocean.

Check out some of the facts about what’s really floating in our oceans:

The Pacific Garbage Patches: The most heavily-researched and well-known example of plastic pollution in the ocean is the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, made up of some 3.5 million tons of plastic beverage bottles, grocery bags, and plastic goods that have been pushed together by water currents that circulate between the west coast of North America and the east coast of China and Russia.

The Five Ocean Gyres: Pollutions can easily get caught in one of the five “gyres” of the ocean: the northern and southern Atlantic gyres, the Indian Ocean gyre, and the northern and southern Pacific gyres. The term describes water that moves in a circular, rotational current over a vast space in the ocean, pulling in stray plastics as it moves until they collide and merge with one another.  Because these gyres are trafficked heavily by cargo ships, the garbage patches contain large objects that have gone overboard from ships, including entire cargo containers.

Indian Ocean’s Plastic Problem: Researchers only began focusing on plastic pollution in the Indian Ocean in recent years, and in 2010 discovered garbage patches much like the famous Pacific Garbage Patch, according to Coastal Cares, another clean ocean advocacy group.

Plastic Breaks Down: As the garbage floats into the gyres it is broken down by salt and UV rays and begins releasing chemical properties into the water that then enter the food system, according to the Scripps Institute at the University of California San Diego. The plastics also fall into smaller pieces that can make them difficult to clean up.

Article source: http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/2014/03/plane-search-raises-questions-about-sea-of-floating-junk/

Plastic Bag Bans Are Not Enough

November 11, 2013 by admin  
Filed under plastic

2013-11-07-marinelitter.jpg

By Ashley Verhines

Plastic bag bans are not enough to save the oceans from a growing tide of plastic pollution. Local efforts are crucial, but a concerted global approach is necessary, say the authors of a new report from the UCLA School of Law’s Emmett Center on Climate Change and the Environment and UCLA’s Institute of the Environment and Sustainability.

The report, “Stemming the Tide of Plastic Marine Litter: A Global Action Agenda,” lays out the sources and impacts of marine litter–all human-generated, artificial, often petroleum-based, solid materials that are discarded or lost in the ocean and remain there–and it recommends domestic and global policy recommendations to combat the scourge.

Ultimately, the authors conclude, a global treaty likely will be required to stop the estimated 20 million tons of plastic bags, food packaging, balloons, and other plastic debris that enter the oceans annually. With a 5 percent increase in non-biodegradable plastic production each year, the world’s oceans are filling at a rate that is wreaking devastating effects on marine wildlife, coastal economies, fisheries, and human health. Degraded coral reefs, damaged vessels, lost tourism, diminished fishery revenues and other symptoms of plastic-littered marine ecosystems equate to billions of dollars of losses worldwide each year.

Current policies fail to fully address the problem as many of the main sources of the litter fall outside the jurisdiction of any single nation and existing international agreements lack enforceable standards.

“Plastic marine litter is a growing global environmental threat imposing major economic costs on industry and government. Marine plastic pollution slowly degrades and has spread to every corner of the world’s oceans from remote islands to the ocean floor. Voluntary half measures are not preventing the global devastating impacts to marine life, the economy and public health,” said report coauthor Mark Gold, associate director of UCLA’s Institute of the Environment and Sustainability. “Although there is no one panacea, we have identified the top ten plastic pollution prevention actions that can be implemented now to begin drastically reducing plastic marine litter.”

“Stemming the Tide of Plastic Marine Litter” reviews the current studies, policies and international agreements surrounding plastic marine litter, and proposes a “Top 10″ list of recommended actions–actions the authors recommend implementing by 2025–to dramatically reduce current rates of plastic marine disposal.

Authors of the report call on the global community to develop a new international treaty and amend existing international and regional laws to include more aggressive monitoring and enforcement actions. This would include prompt banning of the most damaging and common types of plastic marine litter. The report also recommends the implementation of an “ocean friendly” certification program for all plastic products, better infrastructure for waste management, development and expansion of marine litter education and awareness, and establishment of funding sources for comprehensive clean-up efforts.

“Because global mismanagement of plastic is fueling the growing marine litter problem, policy responses are needed at all levels, from the international community of nations down to national and local communities,” said report coauthor Cara Horowitz, executive director of the Emmett Center on Climate Change and the Environment at UCLA Law School. “We can act now to rapidly scale up effective policies and programs to address plastic marine litter. And hopefully, international collaboration to reduce plastic litter will lay a foundation for broader cooperation on other significant issues affecting the health of our oceans.”

“Stemming the Tide of Plastic Marine Litter: A Global Action Agenda” is the most recent Pritzker Environmental Law and Policy Brief, made possible through funding from the charitable Pritzker Group.


Follow UCLA Inst. of the Environment and Sustainability on Twitter:

www.twitter.com/@uclaioes

Article source: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ucla-inst-of-the-environment-and-sustainability/plastic-bag-bans-are-not_b_4234405.html

UCLA Report: Top 10 Solutions to Global Ocean Plastic Pollution

November 11, 2013 by admin  
Filed under plastic

Leila Monroe, Staff Attorney, Oceans Program, San Francisco

A new report released recently identifies the best solutions to tackle the urgent problem of an estimated 20 million tons of plastic litter entering the ocean each year. Plastic pollution is a daunting crisis for the marine environment, one that demands action.

With input from NRDC and other top ocean and waste experts, authors from UCLA School of Law’s Emmett Center on Climate Change and the Environment and UCLA’s Institute of the Environment and Sustainability have jointly released a comprehensive Pritzker Environmental Law and Policy Brief: “Stemming the Tide of Plastic Marine Litter: A Global Action Agenda”. 

This report documents the devastating effects of plastic marine litter, detailing how plastic forms a large portion of our waste stream and typically does not biodegrade in the marine environment. Plastic marine litter has a wide range of adverse environmental and economic impacts, from wildlife deaths and degraded coral reefs to billions of dollars in cleanup costs (see NRDC’s report on the cost to California communities HERE), damage to vessels, and lost tourism and fisheries revenues. The brief calls on the global community to develop a new international treaty while also urging immediate action to implement regional and local solutions.

Report co-author Cara Horowitz, Executive Director of the Emmett Center on Climate Change and the Environment, expressed in the report’s release:

“Because global mismanagement of plastic is fueling the growing marine litter problem, policy responses are needed at all levels, from the international community of nations down to national and local communities. We can act now to rapidly scale up effective policies and programs to address plastic marine litter. And hopefully, international collaboration to reduce plastic litter will lay a foundation for broader cooperation on other significant issues affecting the health of our oceans.”

Among the Top-10 list of recommended solutions are priority actions that are already the focus for NRDC’s work to combat marine plastic pollution:

  • Extended producer-responsibility programs for plastic packaging;
  • Advancing domestic and local regulatory actions, such as bans of the most common and damaging types of plastic litter; and
  • Expanding the use of “zero-trash” Total Maximum Daily Loads or similar requirements in urban coastal watersheds. 

Other creative solutions in line with NRDC’s work are the creation of an “ocean friendly” certification program for plastic products and the introduction of a new international treaty with strong monitoring and enforcement mechanisms.

For more information on NRDC’s work to stop plastic pollution, follow us on Twitter @EndPlasticTrash and like us on facebook.com/StopPlasticPollution. And you can also get involved in our efforts to promoting solutions to keep our waterways, beaches and oceans plastic free by joining at StopPlasticTrash.org.

Trash in Ballona Creek LA, Stiv Wilson.jpg

Trash in Ballona Creek, California, by Stiv Wilson, 5 Gyres Institute.

Article source: http://theenergycollective.com/nrdcswitchboard/295816/ucla-expert-report-top-10-solutions-global-ocean-plastic-pollution