Leachates from pyroplastics alter the behaviour of a key ecosystem engineer

Pyroplastic, an amorphous matrix derived from the burning of manufactured plastics, is a newly described type of plastic pollution. Researchers surveyed 12 locations along northern French shores where mussel reefs are common. They recorded finding pyroplastic items at six sites (with an average weight of 3.34g) that were mostly mainly made of polyethylene. They tested the effects of exposure to raw and beached pyroplastic leachates on adaptive behavioral traits of the mussel Mytilus edulis, a key ecosystem engineer in the region. Pyroplastic leachates significantly affected the ability of mussels to move and aggregate. Polyethylene plastic had greater effects than polypropylene. These results offer the first evidence that pyroplastics may have more severe impacts on living organisms than those triggered by non-burnt plastics.

A site known as Fencelinedata.org shifts the balance of power from chemical producers to journalist, community members, and advocates that can hold them accountable.

This tool, a project of DataKind, Until Justice Data Partners, Material Research L3C, and Public Health Watch, represents a major advance in data accessibility: It makes multiple federal databases available in one place, allowing users to avoid government websites that can be difficult to navigate and interpret.

Find out which companies in your neighborhood are polluting and what harmful chemicals they are releasing into the environment. FencelineData.org provides facility-level information about environmental violations and toxic-chemical and greenhouse-gas pollution from tens of thousands of facilities that report to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

It’s known plastic harms humans and other living beings, but do you known that these substances also affect Earth’s system as a whole? Due to mass-production and inadequate regulation of plastic and synthetic materials, Earth has entered a high-risk zone where irreversible change is likely.

Urgent action is in need to reduce production and toxicity of synthetic chemicals and plastics to bring the plant back into a safe and more balanced state. The health of Earth’s systems are critical to human survival, and a collapse of just one can have crippling effects across the planet.

Scientist have developed and evaluated a system marking nine planetary boundaries to act as a benchmark that the planet is safe and functioning stably. This NRDC brief discusses how plastic and chemical production and pollution stress the Earth’s planetary boundaries in serious and severe ways.

Does Amazon’s plastic packaging actually get recycled? Researchers with U.S. PIRG placed trackers in bundles of Amazon shipping materials and put them in store drop bins to see where they ended up.

Plastic packaging from e-commerce is a major producer of plastic pollution, generating 3.4 billion pounds of plastic globally in 2021 alone. Amazon is a significant contributor to this number, generating an estimated 709 million pounds of plastic just in 2021. Amazon claims much of its plastic packaging is recyclable, and offers a store drop-off system for its film packaging. Yet researchers found no evidence any of its plastic packaging is being recycled. The results paint a far different picture of what actually happens to Amazon’s plastic packaging when it is returned for “recycling.”

Top plastic pollution researcher Martin Wagner at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology writes, “A United Nations-backed agreement to end plastic pollution is within reach — but only if scientists, civil society and businesses unite against powerful vested interests.”

Wagner argues that the global plastic treaty currently under negotiation, if crafted intelligently and agreed upon by world leaders, could significantly reduce global reliance on fossil fuels and plastics. This, he writes, could diminish human and planetary exposure to hazardous chemicals and harmful plastic particles. But to get there, negotiators and observers will have to agree that vested interests with the fossil fuel and plastics industries should not guide the process.

By Edward Humes

What happens to our trash? Why are our oceans filling with plastic? Do we really waste 40 percent of our food 65 percent of our energy? Waste is truly our biggest problem, and solving our inherent trashiness can fix our economy, our energy costs, our traffic jams, and help slow climate change—all while making us healthier, happier and more prosperous.     This story-driven and in-depth exploration of the pervasive yet hard-to-see wastefulness that permeates our daily lives illuminates the ways in which we’ve been duped into accepting absolutely insane levels of waste as normal. Total Garbage also tells the story of individuals and communities who are finding the way back from waste, and showing us that our choices truly matter and make a difference.

Our big environmental challenges – climate, energy, plastic pollution, deforestation, toxic emissions—are often framed as problems too big for any one person to solve. Too big even for hope. But when viewed as symptoms of a single greater problem—the epic levels of trash and waste we produce daily–the way forward is clear. Waste is the one problem individuals can positively impact—and not just on the planet, but also on our wallets, our health, and national and energy security. The challenge is seeing our epic wastefulness clearly.

Total Garbage will shine a light on the absurdity of the systems that all of us use daily and take for granted—and it will help both individuals and communities make meaningful changes toward better lives and a cleaner, greener world.