Laura Parker, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE
If plastic had been invented when the Pilgrims sailed from Plymouth, England, to North America—and the Mayflower had been stocked with bottled water and plastic-wrapped snacks—their plastic trash would likely still be around, four centuries later.
If the Pilgrims had been like many people today and simply tossed their empty bottles and wrappers over the side, Atlantic waves and sunlight would have worn all that plastic into tiny bits. And those bits might still be floating around the world’s oceans today, sponging up toxins to add to the ones already in them, waiting to be eaten by some hapless fish or oyster, and ultimately perhaps by one of us.
We should give thanks that the Pilgrims didn’t have plastic, I thought recently as I rode a train to Plymouth along England’s south coast. I was on my way to see a man who would help me make sense of the whole mess we’ve made with plastic, especially in the ocean.
Because plastic wasn’t invented until the late 19th century, and production really only took off around 1950, we have a mere 9.2 billion tons of the stuff to deal with. Of that, more than 6.9 billion tons have become waste. And of that waste, a staggering 6.3 billion tons never made it to a recycling bin—a figure that stunned the scientists who crunched the numbers in 2017.
Read more at https://www.nationalgeographic.com/magazine/2018/06/plastic-planet-waste-pollution-trash-crisis/
Amel Ahmed, KQED
Oakland is now the latest Bay Area city to consider a proposal to bar food vendors from serving plastic straws unless requested.
Councilmember Abel Guillen, who introduced the proposal in March, says the legislation is part of broader effort in the city to reduce environmental waste. In 2006, Oakland adopted a policy called the Zero Waste Strategic Plan, which aims for a 75 percent reduction by 2010.
“To make further progress on our waste-reduction goals and shift our culture away from single-use products, my ordinance will focus on ‘by request only’ use and better enforcement of existing legislation,” said Guillen in a statement.
Berkeley is considering similar legislation that would go one step further by banning single-use plastic straws altogether. Meanwhile straw-upon-request ordinances are already in place in Alameda, Davis, Manhattan Beach and Santa Cruz.
Local environmental advocates say that anti-plastic straw ordinances would eliminate a key source of pollution in San Francisco Bay.
“Plastic straws and stirrers are big culprits in trashing San Francisco Bay and our oceans,” David Lewis, the executive director of Save the Bay, told the San Francisco Chronicle last year.
Read more at https://www.kqed.org/science/1923141/straw-wars-bay-area-push-to-ban-plastic-straws-picks-up-steam
Richard Frank, LEGAL PLANET
If you’re a registered California voter who supports implementation of California’s statewide ban on single-use plastic bags without further delay, vote Yes on Proposition 67 and No on Proposition 65.
California’s longstanding efforts to eliminate single-use plastic bags from the marketplace and the environment have finally reached California voters.
The November 8th general election ballot contains a breathtaking 17 separate propositions–16 proposed initiative measures and one referendum measure. Propositions 65 and 67 both deal with the same subject–a proposed ban on single-sue plastic bags. Those dueling measures are confusing–intentionally so.
To understand those measures and the political intrigue involved, a bit of background is required. For years, environmental organizations have lobbied to ban ubiquitous single-use plastic bags from grocery, drug and convenience stores, because so many of the non-biodegradable bags wind up in landfills, or worse. They clog sewers and sewage treatment plants, and form a particularly noxious threat to the ocean environment. They often entangle (“entrain”) fish, seabirds and marine mammals, and contribute to the massive plastic “dead zones” that have formed in the Pacific Ocean and other marine environments.
Read more at: Of Initiative Wars, Plastic Bags and Poison Pills | Legal Planet