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Plastic pollution: 'Stop flushing contact lenses down the loo'

Plastic pollution: 'Stop flushing contact lenses down the loo'

Science
Researchers in the US have been investigating the final journeys taken by disposable contact lenses. They found 15-20% of US users simply flick these fiddly lenses down the drain via the bathroom sink or toilet. The Arizona State University study suggests that much of the plastic material then ends up in waste water treatment plants.The lenses are consequently spread on farmland as sewage sludge, increasing plastic pollution in the environment.Around 45m people wear contacts in the US, while rates in other countries vary, with between 5 and 15% of the population in Europe using them. Over the last decade, the use of softer plastic contact lenses has grown rapidly with people using daily, weekly or monthly disposables in greater numbers than ever before. T...
Public 'back' taxes to tackle single-use plastic waste

Public 'back' taxes to tackle single-use plastic waste

Science
There is high public support for using the tax system to reduce waste from single-use plastics, the Treasury says. A consultation on how taxes could tackle the rising problem and promote recycling attracted 162,000 responses.Treasury Minister Robert Jenrick said the government was looking at "smart, intelligent incentives" to get plastic producers to take responsibility.Reports suggest a levy on manufacturers and some disposable plastic products may be introduced in the Budget.It could include measures such as a tax on single-use coffee cups. What are the alternatives to plastic? Two-thirds of plastic food pots unrecyclable 50 nations 'curbing plastic pollution' Responding to the consultation, the Treasury said it wanted to promote the greater use of recy...
Plastic food pots and trays are often unrecyclable, say councils

Plastic food pots and trays are often unrecyclable, say councils

Science
Most of the plastic food containers that householders wash out after use and put in the recycling bin cannot actually be recycled, it has emerged.The mixture of plastics used in many yoghurt pots, ready meal trays and other containers limits the ability of councils to recycle them. The Local Government Association says that only a third can be recycled. The rest get sent to landfill.Up to 80% of packaging could be made more recyclable, the industry said.The British Plastics Federation said companies are working to use more recyclable containers and called for a financial incentive for manufacturers to use more recyclable plastics. Media playback is unsupported on your device According...
Soil microbes eat alternative plastic, study shows

Soil microbes eat alternative plastic, study shows

Science
July 25 (UPI) -- New research shows an alternative plastic called PBAT -- short for poly(butylene adipate-co-terephthalate) -- can be broken down by microbes in the soil. Researchers hope the material can serve as a replacement for polyethylene mulch films. Large amounts of PE films are spread cross agricultural fields to boost crop yields by elevating soil temperature and keeping moisture in the ground. Disposing of the plastic sheeting is difficult and, inevitably, large amounts of the plastic end up accumulating in the soil. Polyethylene contamination can disrupt water transportation and ultimately degrade soil health. Researchers at ETH Zurich wanted to find out if a polymer alternative like PBAT would be more eco-friendly. The polymer had been deemed biodegradable for composting, bu...
Marine plastic: Hundreds of fragments in dead seabirds

Marine plastic: Hundreds of fragments in dead seabirds

Science
Media playback is unsupported on your device New footage of the devastating impact of plastic pollution on wildlife has been captured by a BBC team.Seabirds are starving to death on the remote Lord Howe Island, a crew filming for the BBC One documentary Drowning in Plastic has revealed.Their stomachs were so full of plastic there was no room for food.The documentary is part of a BBC initiative called Plastics Watch, tracking the impact of plastic on the environment. The marine biologists the team filmed are working on the island to save the birds. They captured hundreds of chicks - as they left their nests - to physically flush plastic from their stomachs and "give them a chance to survive".No room for nutrition ...