Plastic

Twelve-year-old Madison Checketts was named one of the 30 finalists in the 2022 Broadcom Masters Competition, the country’s premier science, technology, engineering and math competition for middle school students.

This 12-Year-Old Designed a Water Bottle You Can Eat

After seeing plastic polluting her favorite beaches year after year, Madison Checketts decided it was time to do something about it

Only about five to six percent of plastic waste produced in the U.S. is recycled, per a new report from Greenpeace.

That Plastic You Put in a Blue Bin Might Now Be in a Landfill

A new Greenpeace report found that most plastics produced in the U.S. are never recycled

A wax worm on a piece of plastic with holes

Wax Worm Saliva Is the Unlikely Hero of Fighting Plastic Waste

Their enzymes can break down plastic in a matter of hours

A wave carrying plastic washes up in Thailand. For microbes in the ocean, floating plastic is a new potential ecosystem. And those microbes include pathogens that can make people sick. 

Human Pathogens Are Hitching a Ride on Floating Plastic

Studies show that various harmful bacteria cling to microplastics in seawater

Trash collects on Ballona Creek in California after rainfall.

Good News

California Passes Sweeping New Plastic Waste Law

The legislation requires that all packaging in the state must be recyclable or compostable within ten years

Scientists assessed changes in the gut microbiome of superworms (Zophobas morio) in a new study.

Innovation for Good

Polystyrene-Eating 'Superworms' May Provide Clues for Better Recycling

Scientists find enzymes in the gut microbiome of beetle larvae that can degrade one of the most widely used plastics

Researchers found microplastics in snow samples from the Ross Island region in Antarctica. 

In a First, Microplastics Are Found in Fresh Antarctic Snow

The research highlights the extent of plastic pollution and transmission even in remote regions of the world

Mountain goats at Yellowstone National Park

Good News

National Parks Aim to Phase Out All Single-Use Plastics by 2032

Visitors to the iconic U.S. sites will see utensils and cups made from biodegradable, compostable and recycled materials

Worker at a plastic recycling plant in Japan.

At Least 85 Percent of U.S. Plastic Waste Went to Landfills in 2021

Only five percent of the material was in the correct condition to be recycled

The participants could have been exposed to microplastics through air, water and food, but also through personal care products like toothpaste or lip gloss that might have been accidentally ingested, dental polymers, parts of implants or tattoo ink residues.

Microplastics Detected in Human Blood in New Study

Researchers found plastic in the blood of 17 of 22 of study participants, or about 77 percent

For decades, researchers and divers have observed curious and intelligent octopi utilize oceanic pollution as tools or taking up residence in glass bottles.

Octopuses Are Reusing Human Trash as Shelter

In crowdsourced images, the cephalopods were observed making refuse their home, even using the junk as a place to lay eggs

A new way of recycling has grabbed the attention of some of the world’s largest consumer goods companies, including L’Oréal, Nestlé, and PepsiCo, who collaborated with startup company Carbios to produce proof-of-concept bottles.

The Future of Recycling May Be in Microbes

An enzyme-based recycling technology is poised to go commercial, but questions about cost and scalability linger

Collectors have gone out to look for rare pieces like washed-up octopuses and green dragons.

After 25 Years at Sea, Shipwrecked Lego Pieces Are Still Washing Ashore on Beaches in England

In 1997, a cargo ship was struck by a rogue wave. Among 62 shipping containers aboard, one contained five million plastic toy bricks

Brine shrimp, and brine shrimp eggs, are teeny-tiny. But by analyzing the light they reflect, scientists can now identify aggregations of them from space.

Scientists Can Spot Shrimp Eggs From Space

By analyzing the light it reflects, scientists can say whether that floating blob in a satellite image is made up of shrimp, seaweed or something else

Large amounts of plastic trash accumulated in Ballona Creek in Culver City, California.

Plastic-Degrading Enzymes May Be Increasing in Response to Pollution

One in every four organisms in the microbiomes they surveyed carries a plastic-degrading protein sequence

Plastic makes up 80 percent of all marine debris found, from surface waters to deep-sea sediments 

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch Hosts Life in the Open Ocean

Coastal plants and animals are thriving on the plastic debris, posing potential ecological risks

Other biodegradable bioplastics from algae, cornstarch, sawdust have lower emissions over their lifetime than regular oil-based plastics but still, need the energy provided by the fossil-fuel energy grid to manufacture.

Scientists Made an Eco-Friendly Plastic Using DNA From Salmon Sperm

The material requires 97 percent less carbon emissions to make than petroleum-based plastics

LifeLab Design's WarmLife vests are 30 percent warmer than clothing of comparable weight and bulk.

Innovation for Good

This Apparel Company Wants to Have a Profound Effect on Your Energy Use

LifeLabs Design was founded by a pair of Stanford professors who have developed fabrics capable of cooling and warming the wearer

Hermit crabs are essential scavengers in the ocean. They may crawl into discarded tires looking for food or shelter, and become trapped and die of starvation.

Discarded Tires Are 'Ghost Fishing' Hermit Crabs

New research suggests these shell-swapping crustaceans are vulnerable to becoming trapped inside human debris

The device was developed by The Ocean Cleanup, a nonprofit that aims to remove 90 percent of floating ocean plastic by 2040.

This New Installation Pulled 20,000 Pounds of Plastic From the Great Pacific Garbage Patch

The trash collection device dubbed 'Jenny' could help address overwhelming marine plastic pollution

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