Plastic industry corporations, pollution and greenwashing


This 4 October 2019 video says about itself:

The Plastic Industry‘s Long Fight to Blame Pollution on You

Plastic production really began in earnest in the 1950s. It’s hard to remember, but we once got along without it. Of course, plastic offered great convenience, and its production skyrocketed. In 1967, when Dustin Hoffman was advised to go into plastics in “The Graduate”, there were 25 million tons of plastic produced. These days, we’re making 300 million tons. At this point, the plastics industry is worth $4 trillion and almost half of what it’s producing is single-use plastics — things that will be used once and almost instantly become trash.

Public outrage at this problem erupted in 1970, with the first Earth Day, and the industry has been successfully dodging the issue ever since. Through advertising, public outreach campaigns, lobbying, and partnerships with non-profits designed to seem “green”, plastics industry organizations have been blaming “litterbugs” for the growing menace and promoting the idea of recycling as the solution, while at the same time fighting every serious attempt to limit plastic production.

Read the full story here.

Belgian ‘plastic soup’ pollution solution?


This video, in English with Vietnamese subtitles, says about itself:

These photographs of albatross chicks were made in September 2009 on Midway Atoll, a tiny stretch of sand and coral near the middle of the North Pacific. The nesting babies are fed bellies-full of plastic by their parents, who soar out over the vast polluted ocean collecting what looks to them like food to bring back to their young. On this diet of human trash, every year tens of thousands of albatross chicks die on Midway from starvation, toxicity, and choking.

To document this phenomenon as faithfully as possible, not a single piece of plastic in any of these photographs was moved, placed, manipulated, arranged, or altered in any way. These images depict the actual stomach contents of baby birds in one of the world’s most remote marine sanctuaries, more than 2000 miles from the nearest continent.

~Chris Jordan

October 2009

From daily The Guardian in Britain:

Ecover to turn sea plastic into bottles in pioneering recycling scheme

Green cleaning brand claims plastic trawled from the sea can be used to create fully sustainable and recyclable packaging

Sea plastic pollution: Plastic bottles and other rubbish washed up on a beach

Plastic bottles and other rubbish washed up by the tide on a beach, Isle of Man. Ecover will use plastic waste trawled from the sea to deliver what it claims will be the first ever fully sustainable and recyclable plastic. Photograph: Alamy

Ecover, the green cleaning brand, said on Thursday it will use plastic waste retrieved from the sea to create an entirely new type of sustainable and recyclable plastic bottle.

The Belgian company is working with plastic manufacturer Logoplaste to combine plastic trawled from the sea with a plastic made from sugar cane (‘Plant-astic’) and recycled plastic, in what it is calling a world-first for packaging. Products made from the packaging will go on sale next year.

But the company was unable to give details of how much plastic would be retrieved or what percentage of “sea plastic” would be used in the packaging.

Ecover chief executive, Philip Malmberg, said: “We won’t have a definitive figure on the amount we will retrieve we are just hoping to get as much as is possible and give fishermen an incentive to join the initiative and help clean the seas. We want to get the sea waste in as much of our packaging as possible – it will always depend on the amount and quality of the plastic they have managed to fish.”

Philip Malmberg, Ecover’s CEO, talks to Guardian Environment Network partnerRTCC about plastic soup, the recession and ditching fossil fuels

According to the Marine Conservation Society, plastic debris accounts for almost 60% of all litter found on UK beaches, while much of it ends up in the sea. The scale of the problem was highlighted in a recent studyby scientists who found a sperm whale that died off the coast of Spain last year had a stomach full of flowerpots, hosepipe and nearly 30 square metres of plastic greenhouse covers.

Ecover was set up in 1981 and the UK is now one of its biggest markets, generating some 40% of sales. The company said it would work with the industry-led Waste Free Oceans initiative and the UK recycling plant Closed Loop to recruit fishing communities working in the British waters off the North Sea to collect plastic.

Boats outfitted with special equipment will be able to collect between two and eight tonnes of waste per trawl for cleaning and recycling, while other fishermen will collect plastic debris mixed with by-catch and deposit it at special collection points. The sorted waste will then be sent to Closed Loop Recycling’s plant in Dagenham, east London, where it will be processed and turned into the plastic for the new bottles.

Trials have already begun on the exact mix of the three plastics that will allow the brand to deliver what it claims will be the first ever fully sustainable and recyclable plastic.

Malmberg added: “Sustainability is a never-ending journey. Solve one problem or tackle one issue and it simply leaves you free to solve the next. Our focus on continual innovation means that we are always pushing boundaries. As manufacturers we’ve got to take responsibility for sustainability very seriously – to take real action on climate change and the damage done by our over-reliance on fossil fuels, creating ‘green’ products that deliver more than a nod to sustainability.”

Ecover’s move has the backing of the Environment Agency, although it is not providing any funding or subsidy to help retrieve the plastic debris. The company said it would incur the costs of the exercise and pledged not to pass it on to consumers via any price increases.

This video is called Plastic Shores: ‘Micro-plastics’ Animation.

THIS 21-YEAR-OLD WANTS TO CLEAN UP THE OCEANS “Boyan Slat, a 21-year-old who gained worldwide recognition two years ago for his ambitious plan to rid the oceans of plastics, is one step closer to making his idea a reality. His foundation just raised the 1.5 million euros they needed to test their technology in real-life conditions, which will take place in the North Sea this summer. [HuffPost]

270,000 TONS OF PLASTIC LITTERS THE OCEAN “A new study estimates nearly 270,000 tons of plastic is floating in the world’s oceans. That’s enough to fill more than 38,500 garbage trucks. The plastic is broken up into more than 5 trillion pieces, said the study published Wednesday in the scientific journal PLOS ONE.” [AP]

Hong Kong air pollution worst ever


This video from Hong Kong says about itself:

This summer, Clean Air Network brings you a brand new public service announcement featuring popular Hong Kong movie star, Daniel Wu. The video is an ironic 1980s-style infomercial flogging a fake brand of canned air called “Fresh Air.”

At the encouragement of CAN’s pro bono advertising agency, DDB, CAN decided to adopt a different approach from its previous series of dead serious public service announcements about the health dangers of air pollution. Instead of frightening viewers, CAN seeks to enlighten viewers by taking an absurdist, sarcastic approach to the issue of health, lifestyle and air pollution.

“Clean Air Network is thrilled that Daniel Wu has decided to get publicly involved in championing clean air for Hong Kong. His personal leadership will undoubtedly influence the minds of many young people,” said Joanne Ooi, CAN’s CEO. Daniel Wu said, “I wanted to do my part to raise awareness about how air pollution is affecting everyone in Hong Kong. It is, after all, the city’s #1 public health problem.” Other celebrities appearing in the infomercial include Ana R., Cara G., and Simon Yin.

From AFP news agency today:

Hong Kong chokes under ‘worst’ air pollution

By Aaron Tam – 5 hours ago

HONG KONG — Hong Kong choked under the worst smog ever recorded in the city Thursday, with residents warned to stay indoors, away from the blanket of toxic haze, officials said.

Air pollutant readings broke records going back to 1999, except for levels reached when a natural dust storm hit the southern Chinese territory two years ago, environmental protection department spokesman Y.F. Chau said.

“This is the worst air pollution reading we’ve seen since Hong Kong started recording air pollution in 1999, except for the dust storm,” he said.

Hong Kong’s famous skyline was shrouded in a dense blanket of toxic smog and the sky looked grey, although the weather was fine and sunny.

“People with heart or respiratory illnesses, the elderly and children should reduce physical exertion and outdoor activities,” a government spokeswoman said.

Officials said the pollution had been exacerbated by the influence of Typhoon Saola, which killed four people as it lashed Taiwan some 700 kilometres (450 miles) to the east.

The storm’s outer high-pressure air mass blanketed Hong Kong, bringing strong sunshine and high temperatures that pushed up ozone levels.

The pollution was particularly bad in the Central district of downtown Hong Kong, where luxury retail brands and multinational companies pay among the highest rents in the world.

Anti-pollution activists said Hong Kong could not keep blaming the weather or factories in neighbouring mainland China for its recurring pollution problems.

“If Hong Kong did not produce air pollutants, the weather conditions would not be able to exacerbate or cause further consequences,” Clean Air Network campaign manager Erica Chan told AFP.

Emissions from local vehicles using old and dirty engines are among the main contributors to Hong Kong’s air pollution, she said.

The network said monitoring stations in the bustling shopping district of Causeway Bay on Wednesday recorded levels of the most dangerous fine particles that were three times higher than World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines.

The government announced revisions to its air quality objectives for the first time in 25 years in January, after University of Hong Kong research showed pollution-related illnesses killed more than 3,000 residents a year.

The new objectives impose more stringent limits on the atmospheric concentration for seven pollutants including sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide and lead.

For the first time the city has started measuring airborne particles smaller than 2.5 micrometres in diameter, known as PM2.5, which are more harmful than the larger particles.

Heavy polluting vehicles will be phased out, hybrid or electric vehicles will be promoted and more use will be made of natural gas.

But independent analysts say the measures are too little, too late, and fall short of WHO guidelines.