Waste

There is no 'away' - what are you washing down the drain?

Beat the MicrobeadBeat the Microbead - International campaign against microbeads in toiletries and cosmetics - Product lists and phone app download which allows shoppers to scan a product’s barcode to check whether it contains plastic microbeads, developed in partnership with the Plastic Soup Foundation - the driving force behind what has become a global movement.

08/06/15 - Britain's major retailers vow to end microbead use Almost all of Britain's major retailers have pledged to phase out harmful microbeads from their own-brand cosmetic and beauty products, marking a major victory for environmentalists.

18/12/14 -  Billions of plastic fibres now polluting each kilometre of deep seas A new study reveals that microscopic plastic fibres are polluting sediment in deep seas all around the world. Marine plastic debris is a global problem, affecting wildlife, tourism and shipping. And yet the scientists in the study point out that monitoring over the past decades has not seen its concentration increase at the sea surface or along shorelines, despite experts knowing that more plastic is being created. However, the current study indicates this may be because microplastics have sunk to the ocean floor, with the number of fibres recorded in the deep seas up to four times greater than in shallow and coastal waters. Full report published in Royal Society Open Science

"A range of shallow water organisms are known to ingest microplastics, and the extent of their harmful effects will likely be influenced by their relative abundance. The discovery of substantial quantities in deep-sea sediments is of considerable relevance to our understanding of the potential of these particles to cause harm in the marine environment."

"Rayon is not a plastic, but we include it in our results, because it is a man-made semi-synthetic material and widely reported as present in the marine environment. It is used in cigarette filters, personal hygiene products and clothing, and is introduced to the marine environment through sewage, including from the washing of clothes. It has been reported in fish (57.8% of synthetic particles ingested) and in ice cores (54%), in similar proportions to those reported here."

07/12/14 - Medicines in the Environment: A Growing Threat to Wildlife and Drinking Water There is increasing evidence that human and veterinary medicines are damaging wildlife, a new report launched today by the environmental charity CHEM Trust shows. The report Pharmaceuticals in the Environment: A growing threat to our tap water and wildlife” highlights that medicines are polluting rivers and have harmed wild birds and fish. Other species too have been affected, and people are also worryingly exposed.

13/10/14 - Drugs flushed into the environment could be cause of wildlife decline Potent pharmaceuticals flushed into the environment via human and animal sewage could be a hidden cause of the global wildlife crisis, according to new research. The scientists warn that worldwide use of the drugs, which are designed to be biologically active at low concentrations, is rising rapidly but that too little is currently known about their effect on the natural world.

23/05/14 - Scottish residents search beaches for plastic ‘nurdles’ Not as cute as they sound, nurdles are the raw material for the trillion-dollar plastic industry. Each about the size of a lentil, these plastic pellets are melted together to form almost all plastic products. Accidental spills and careless handling at industrial facilities creates an easy route for these pellets to enter the marine environment, where they become embedded in estuarine and coastal habitats. Sadly, in the marine environment nurdles resemble floating fish eggs and tiny crustaceans, and are regularly mistaken for food by wildlife.

13/03/14 - Lugworms harmed by marine microplastic pollution Microplastic pollution impairs the heath of the marine worms that help maintain sediments for other creatures, new research suggests. This study shows that the energy reserves of lugworms living in sediment contaminated with microplastic particles were reduced by up to 50%.
 
21/11/13 - Ingested plastic transfers hazardous chemicals to fish and induces hepatic stress Fish exposed to a mixture of polyethylene with chemical pollutants sorbed from the marine environment bioaccumulate these chemical pollutants and suffer liver toxicity and pathology.

Good Scrub Guide18/09/13 - Fauna & Flora International launches the Good Scrub Guide A recent trend amongst cosmetic producers has been to add plastic microbeads into a wide range of personal care products, and the same applies to domestic cleaning products.  These microbeads, often less than a millimetre in diameter, are washing straight down the drain and invariably enter the marine environment because they are too small to be filtered out during wastewater treatment processes. And once they reach the sea, they are impossible to clean up.

2009 - Environmental implications of plastic debris in marine settings—entanglement, ingestion, smothering, hangers-on, hitch-hiking and alien invasions  Over the past five or six decades, contamination and pollution of the world’s enclosed seas, coastal waters and the wider open oceans by plastics and other synthetic, non-biodegradable materials (generally known as ‘marine debris’) has been an ever-increasing phenomenon.

The Producer Pays Principle

22/11/14 - Chewing gum manufacturers urged by councils to pay for clear-up of gum-spattered streets The Local Government Association (LGA), which represents almost 400 councils in England and Wales, is calling for gum giants to pay part of the £60 million annual removal cost. That figure would enable councils to fill in over a million potholes. The LGA wants a ‘producer pays' principle to apply, which means manufacturers would contribute to the cost of ensuring proper disposal. The LGA points out that the average piece of gum costs about 3p to buy - but 50 times that to clean up (£1.50). Most chewing gum never biodegrades and once it is trodden into the pavement this requires specialised equipment to remove. Gum manufacturers should also be switching to biodegradable and easier-to-remove chewing gum, it says.

Illegal Dumping

09/11/14 - BBC RADIO: File on 4 : Dirty Secrets (38 mins) The UK generates nearly 300 million tonnes of waste every year. That's rich pickings for criminals who illegally dump what we don't want, damaging the environment and threatening our health. The black market in rubbish is said to be worth a billion pounds. With such huge sums at stake there's concern that organised crime is increasing its grip on the sector. Allan Urry examines the efforts of Britain's Environment Agencies to try to hold the line. But it's tough going at a time when cuts have led to a reduction in staffing.

Trashed

"We've made this movie Trashed  because there are so many people who feel strongly the urgent need for the problem of 'waste' and 'sustainability' to be addressed. There is an equally urgent need for the most imaginative and productive solutions to this troublesome subject to be understood and shared by as many communities as possible throughout the world." Jeremy Irons 

11/12/12 - Jeremy Irons talks trash for his new environmental documentary  Oscar-winning actor explains why he travelled around the world to highlight the environmental problems caused by our waste.

20/02/13 - RADIO: BBC Costing the Earth - The Dash for Ash  (30 mins) By 2020 the UK must significantly reduce its landfill habit. A recent government report warned that we would run out of landfill space by 2018 and a European Directive means we must reduce the amount of waste sent to landfill from 48% to 35% or face big fines. Next year landfill tax will hit £80 per tonne. Unsurprisingly there has been a huge rise in planning applications for incinerators. 90 are proposed to add to the 30 currently in operation. Waste is big business. Environmental campaigners argue that even if the health risks can be addressed this solution only creates more carbon dioxide emissions when what we really need is more recycling and less initial waste. In his film 'Trashed' actor Jeremy Irons looks at how our waste affects our health and that of the planet. Clip: Jeremy Irons "We cannot afford to destroy resources"

Landfill Harmonic Orchestra

This Landfill Harmonic  story is about how instruments made from recycled trash in Cateura, Paraguay bring hope to children whose future is otherwise spiritless.

No Impact Man

Colin Beavan was a writer living in Manhattan who had the usual concerns over the future of the environment until he realized he wasn't doing much about it. Beavan decided that it was time he and his family did something to deal with the practical issues of global warming and environmental sustainability, so he set out on a grand experiment -- to see if he, his wife, Michelle Conlin, their young daughter, and their dog could live for a year in New York City without leaving any sort of carbon footprint. Michelle, a writer for Business Week with a taste for fashion, was a hard sell for the notion of spending a year without electricity, takeout, toilet paper, or motorized transportation, but in time she agreed and found that their new life was a life-changing experience. Review

TRAIL

TRAIL Recycled Art in Landscape  is a voluntary organisation made up of environmentally aware artists and organisations that have exhibited in the Teignmouth area, in South Devon, each summer since 2005. For inspiration, see Bishopsteignton Outdoor Art Group whose members have created many large public sculptures using rubbish found locally.

The Secret Life of Rubbish

TV: BBC The Secret Life of Rubbish With tales from old binmen and film archive that has never been broadcast before, this two-part series offers an original view of the history of modern Britain - from the back end where the rubbish comes out. Review

Episode 1 - Deals with the decades immediately after the Second World War. As the programme sifts through the rubbish of the mid-20th century, we discover how the Britain of Make Do and Mend became a consumer society. Review

  • 90-year-old Ernie Sharp started on the bins when he was demobbed from the army in 1947, and household rubbish in those days was mostly ash raked out of the fire-grate. That's why men like Ernie were called 'dust'men.
  • But the rubbish soon changed. The Clean Air Act got rid of coal fires so there was less ash. Then supermarkets arrived, with displays of packaged goods. And all that packaging went in the bin.
  • In the 1960s consumerism emerged. Shopping for new things became a national enthusiasm. It gave people the sense that their lives were improving and kept the economy going. And as the binmen recall, the waste stream became a flood.

Episode 2 - Deals with the 1970s and 1980s, when two big ideas emerged in the waste management industry. This is the story of a society hooked on wastefulness - and of the people who clear up the mess.

  • The first was privatisation of public services. We meet Ian Ross, who made millions by taking over the refuse collection contract from the council that had once employed him as a binman. 'It was scary', Ian Ross admits, 'but you have one chance don't you, and you've got to take it.'
  • The other idea that emerged was environmentalism. Ron England goes back to the supermarket car park in Barnsley, South Yorkshire where he set up the world's first bottle bank. 'Everyone said I was a crank', recalls Ron.
  • But the waste stream continued to expand. This was great news for the Earls of Aylesford. The present Earl shows how his palace was saved with money earned from the enormous landfill in the grounds.