I know I know… first there is silence from me for a few months, then two mailouts in a short period of time … well, I write when the urge gets me … ;-).
I hope you are enjoying a beautiful summer (in the northern hemisphere) – I love the sun and the warmth, so this year it has been terrific here in the UK – unfortunately to the degree that drought is threatening… which of course it not so great! Isn’t there anything that does not have two sides ??!!
Anyway, a friend of mine just shared information on a 4-day program to find solutions to the plastic pollution crises, taking place in Cambridge, UK September this year, and it triggered the need to write this blog !
The damage plastic (if not recycled or deposed of properly) causes to animals and environment has been in the limelight a lot recently, and rightly so. Not least due to David Attenborough’s TV series Blue Planet II after the making of which he warned, “The world’s oceans are turning into a ‘toxic soup’ of industrial waste and plastic, putting the future of humanity at risk.”
If you are not yet aware of the magnitude and urgency of the problem, here a few pointers that will bring you up to speed,
- In a blogpost the Center for Biological Diversity writes: “Plastic never goes away. And it’s increasingly finding its way into our oceans and onto our beaches. In the Los Angeles area alone, 10 metric tons of plastic fragments — like grocery bags, straws and soda bottles — are carried into the Pacific Ocean every day. Today billions of pounds of plastic can be found in swirling convergences making up about 40 percent of the world’s ocean surfaces.”
- 3rd June 2018 Reuters reported, “Plastic bags jam stomach of dead pilot whale in Thailand” – and it is not an isolated incident (read and see more here). Indeed, according to EcoWatch“Roughly 8 million tons of plastic is dumped into the world’s oceans every year, and according to a new study, the majority of this waste comes from just five countries: China, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam.” It is all very well to point fingers, yet dealing with this problem should be the responsibility of each and everyone of us – here some suggestions of what we can do.
- You may want to check out this BBC article on the “Seven charts that explain the plastic pollution problem“, this one titled The plastic pollution problem in charts or read more about the cause and effect of plastic pollution here.
Of course there are attempts to start tackling this problem, be it The Ocean Cleanup who are using the fact that the plastic congregates in 5 ‘garbage patches’ as a starting point for extracting plastic from the oceans….
… or even McDonald UK which plans to ban plastic straws by next year. Others realise that recycled plastic can become the raw material for fashion items such as, for example sunglasses. In fact, there are quite a few examples of practical things, useful ones as well as some truly artistic and beautiful ones out there – if we (believe) we cannot live without plastic, the least we should do is to keep in in the circular economy for as long as ever possible.
As usual, politicians are rather more timid opting, in my view, for ‘too little too late’: a planned ban of plastic straws, cutlery and plates by the EU by 2021 feels rather ridiculous in face of current reality and the problems we are facing.
We cannot solve the world’s pressing problems by pretending they don’t exist, we can only solve them by taking a close look at them, and acting now, in which ever shape or form we are able to. As innovators, what is it that you can do? How can you stem the tide of unintended consequences of plastic?
By the way, if you come across interesting solutions, or any other susttainable disruptive innovations for that matter, it would be super if you could submit them to the Katerva Awards Program (of which I happen to volunteer as director …). All you need to do is to complete the Nominee Candidate Form which is available via the Katerva website.
With kind regards, and happy recycling,
PS I am proud to say that The Ocean CleanUp was Katerva’s Grand Prize Winner in 2015.