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Useless plastics provide a few minutes of convenience, little utility, and are disposed of in large quantities. / © WWF-Singapore

A supermarket plastic bag serves its real purpose for 30 minutes, the duration of a short commute. In a drink, a straw is utilised for just 5 minutes. The use of a plastic stirrer is even more short-lived: all of 10 seconds.

These items have fleeting lifespans, but they outlive us by a long shot — 400 years, to be exact.

Left in our environment, plastics affect ocean health and biodiversity. The problem does not simply end there.

Read the full article on ‘useless plastic’ and more here.

By Kim Stengert for Medium.

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Waste plastic bottles and other types of plastic waste at the waste disposal site in Thilafushi, part of the Maldives. Credit: Shutterstock/ Mohamed Abdulraheem

 

There’s no love lost for plastic packaging. Whether it’s complicated recycling instructions on the products we buy, startling images of the impacts on wildlife or simply the economic value lost through waste, plastics have been climbing the international agenda for years. So how do 8 million tonnes of plastic still end up in the ocean each year?

Searching for the right solutions

The urgency of the issue has led to brands, governments, NGOs and celebrities promoting a host of solutions. Reusable packaging is part of the answer, and shopping bags, water bottles and coffee cups have become popular purchases for those trying to do their bit. This works to replace certain types of packaging, but think about all the other pieces of plastic we come into contact with every single day. Plastic film can keep food fresher for longer, and wrappers ensure medical equipment is safe for patients. In many cases, it wouldn’t be hygienic, convenient or feasible to go fully reusable.

Read the full article on innovations such as packaging inspired by nature, made from food waste and more here.

By Joe Iles for GreenBiz.

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‘Plastic, plastic, plastic’: British diver films sea of rubbish off Bali

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Video posted on YouTube shows water densely strewn with food wrappers, cups and sachets as tropical fish dart in and out

A British diver has captured shocking images of himself swimming through a sea of plastic rubbish off the coast of the Indonesian tourist resort of Bali.

A short video posted by diver Rich Horner on his social media account and on YouTube shows the water densely strewn with plastic waste and yellowing food wrappers, the occasional tropical fish darting through the deluge.

With poor government planning and low levels of awareness about waste and recycling, Indonesia is now the second-largest plastic polluter in the world after China.

Read the full article here.

By  for The Guardian

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If You’re Eating Shellfish, You’re Eating Plastic

Categories: Planet, Recommended Reading, Sea, Waste
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Microscopic marine organisms like these are encountering a growing volume of microplastic pollution. Fibers from synthetic clothes are a major source of microplastic pollution. Dr. Richard Kirby, Supplied 11 September 2017

Sarah Dudas doesn’t mind shucking an oyster or a clam in the name of science.

But sit down with her and a plate of oysters on the half-shell or a bucket of steamed Manila clams, and she’ll probably point out a bivalve’s gonads or remark on its fertility.

And lately, the shellfish biologist is making other unappetizing comments to her dinner party guests—about plastics in those shellfish.

But tracking the origins of tiny plastic particles in a big ocean is new territory. So Dudas turned to Peter Ross, who has studied the effects of ocean pollution on sea life for 30 years.

“We’ve long known that plastic and debris can be a problem for ocean life,” said Ross, director of the Vancouver Aquarium’s Ocean Pollution Research Program.

Read the full article on the research done by Dudas and Ross here.

by  for Oregon Public Broadcasting.

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Bangkok’s Fight Against Plastic Waste

Categories: Blog Posts, Southeast, Waste
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by Juliane Little, Account Executive, Precious Plastics Bangkok

 

 

 

 

 

Did you know that plastic doesn’t actually decompose? Over time it’ll start to break down into smaller pieces called microplastics; however, it’ll never fully be removed from our planet.

So how do we expect to tackle this ever-growing issue about plastic waste? While there is no short or easy answer, there are steps we can begin to take towards a brighter, better future.

Let me first introduce myself… My name is Juliane Little and I’m an expat, who has lived in Thailand for just over 2 years now. It was my love for adventure, the ocean, and beauty that brought me all the way from the USA to this beautiful country. Within a short few months, I started to notice there is a huge issue with plastic consumption and recycling in Thailand. This plastic waste comes in all shapes and sizes and is used by teachers, construction workers, people on holiday and even by myself.

Plastic is the ultimate convenience. It’s cheap to make and buy, it’s extremely versatile, and it’s strong. All of these benefits make it easy to forget the potential harm one straw or bottle cap can actually do. We assume that once we dispose if it, it magically disappears. However, we are starting to realize the harsh truth and it’s coming back to bite us (quite literally). Our oceans and lands are being overrun with waste, and animals have turned to plastic as a source of food. There are already traces of plastic in the fish that we are consuming. Scientists have even predicted that by the year 2050 – there will be more plastic in our oceans than fish (by weight).

Ocean Marina, Pattaya, Thailand

After some random web searching, I came across a plastic recycling project, which I immediately thought, “this is what Bangkok needs, this is what the world needs.” I’ve found that many people don’t get involved in volunteer work or conservation efforts, because they don’t know where to start. Trust me – it’s hard, especially living in a foreign country!

Thanks to Dave Hakkens, that is about to change.

Precious Plastics is a project created by Dave Hakkens, which helps people around the world set up their own local plastic workshops. Hakkens’ open source website gives A to Z instructions on how to build all the machines needed to break down plastic and turn it into something new. The possibilities are endless and the creativity doesn’t end on their website. The hope of this project is to encourage upcycling and provide an educational work place for the community.

I have decided to tackle the project and create a Previous Plastics workshop here in Bangkok. Our mission for the Bangkok workshop is to educate the community on plastic waste and consumption. We would achieve this by holding workshops around how to properly use our recycling machines and turn plastic back it back into raw material. This can then be used to create new tools and objects for use and even to sell. During these workshops we will provide tips on avoiding one-time use plastic and lowering your plastic waste footprint! Once you are properly trained on safety and usage, you’ll have free access to the workshop where you are able to upcycle whatever you can think of.

While this project is in its initial stages, we have already had a lot of positive feedback from the community and people who are eager to support in anyway possible. Our next step is to build the machines and find them a temporary home.

If you are interested in getting involved, please reach out to me personally or follow us on Facebook! What we need the most are people who are passionate about saving the planet and reducing plastic pollution. There are many steps we need to take to get this project off the ground and I would love to have you join our team. Feel free to follow the page for updates on our project and also tips to becoming more eco-friendly.

Through the Precious Plastic’s Bangkok Project, I hope to spread more awareness of plastic pollution and give back to the community. Join our cause and let’s get one step closer to a greener, healthier planet.

Disclaimer: The views, opinions and positions expressed by the author(s) and those providing comments on these blogs are theirs alone, and do not necessarily reflect the views, opinions or positions of the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) or any employee thereof. We make no representations as to accuracy, completeness, timeliness, suitability or validity of any information presented by individual authors and/or commenters on our blogs and will not be liable for any errors, omissions, or delays in this information or any losses, injuries or damages arising from its display or use.

 

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How to enjoy the coral reefs responsibly

Categories: Green Tips, Planet, Sea, Wildlife
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Credit: Shutterstock

 

Coral reefs are part of the most beautiful ecosystems on our planet. They attract many tourists worldwide, and, in many developing countries, the local community is highly dependent upon tourism generated by divers and snorkellers visiting the reefs.

 

Not only are the reefs extremely beautiful but they are also very important as they are home to numerous marine species and protect us from storms and floods.

 

Sadly the coral reefs are degrading every day because of unsustainable tourism. Diving and snorkelling are extremely popular and are the main cause of reef degradation with fins being the most damaging.

 

Dive and snorkel operators as well as tourists must act responsibly when visiting our planet’s reefs. Here are some basic tips to remember:

 

  1. Do not touch the coral

 

Coral is to be admired from a distance. Coral is alive and touching it can damage it. It can also be dangerous as some corals sting to protect themselves. Don’t remove a piece of coral to take home with you and never buy coral souvenirs. It can take 15 years to grow one centimetre of coral.

 

  1. Swim with care

 

When diving or snorkelling, make sure that you keep your distance and swim horizontally in order to prevent stepping on the reefs. If you are not a confident diver or snorkeller you should practice first in an area without coral reefs  

 

  1. Never leave your rubbish on the beach.

 

Rubbish discarded on beaches can be dragged into the ocean as the tide recedes. This is highly damaging to coral and the fish living amongst the reefs.

 

  1. Spread the word

 

Create awareness and explain to others how we may enjoy the beauty of our reefs without damaging them. For diving and snorkelling centres, make sure the tourists are briefed and know how to dive and snorkel responsibly.

 

Learn more about responsible diving and snorkelling from our Sustainability Partner, Reef-World.  

 

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Credit: Shutterstock

 

There’s a big lie about plastic — that you can throw it away. But that’s not true; there is no “away.”

Plastic bottles, plastic bags, snack wrappers, foam takeout containers, foam coffee cups, packing materials: these common, everyday items make up 85% of our waste stream. These items aren’t biodegradable and our ability to recycle them is limited.

 

This societal reliance on throw-away plastic is strangling our environment — particularly our waterways.

More than eight million tons of plastic are dumped into the world’s oceans each year, where it kills animals and fouls waterways and beaches. This isn’t the work of careless litterbugs at the beach. Over 80% of ocean plastic comes from land-based sources. Even if you live inland and take care to properly dispose of your trash, there is a good chance some of your plastic waste has found its way to the sea.

 

Consider the American Great Lakes, where 80% of the litter along the shorelines is plastic. That trash doesn’t stay put — it flows through the canals and river systems through the St. Lawrence Seaway and into the Atlantic Ocean. A takeout container that blows off a Chicago landfill can wind up off the coast of Africa.

From there, the damage gets far worse. Once in the ocean, plastic eventually breaks into micro-particles that cause toxins to enter the food chain.

A single discarded piece of plastic breaks down into millions — and these bits are mistaken for food and ingested by even the smallest organisms on the oceanic food chain. Contaminated zooplankton feed on phytoplankton, which are fed on by small fish, who are fed on by squid — and so it goes on up to our dinner plates.

 

Read the full article here.

 

By Julie Anderson from Los Angeles Time

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Credit: Shutterstock

Did you know?

Our planet cannot digest plastic

Plastic makes up about 90% of ocean pollution in the world

In China, 3 billion single-use plastic bags are used every day

The average plastic bag is only used for less than 15 minutes

 

The problem with plastic is that it’s inexpensive and therefore disposable. And when it’s so disposable, there is a lot of it, and a lot of litter, creating unsightly cities, and clogged and polluted waters.

 

We, the tourism industry, are dependent on clean oceans, pristine beaches, and ecological diversity. Local communities are dependent on fresh water and clean cities. It is time to take leadership and proactively reduce the use of plastic in the travel industry.

 

Here are some ways we can tackle plastic pollution in the tourism industry:

 

  1. Charge for it:

It can be difficult to change the legislation on plastic bans, but it isn’t impossible. Charging the customer an additional fee can be an incentive to reduce the demand for plastic products. Read more one the example of Ireland, who was able to reduce the plastic bag consumption by approximately 98 per cent within a week in 2007 by increasing the price for plastic bags.

 

  1. Replace your plastic products

 

  • Use only reusable glasses, mugs, and water bottles at conferences instead of plastic bottles
  • Simply do not allow plastic straws at your hotel or venue, or replace with biodegradable, paper, or bamboo straws
  • Replace single use toiletries with large pump bottles that can be refilled; replace plastic toothbrushes for giveaways with wooden ones
  • Initiate green meeting policies: check out this example

 

  1. Educate stakeholders, staff and travellers

Because everyone uses plastic, it is important to engage with every person involved in the business to educate them about the negative impacts of plastic use and how to make a positive, plastic-free change.

 

What to tell stakeholders:

Reducing plastic means reducing costs! Unnecessary material usage can be avoided, saving a lot of money in production and in waste management. Uptake of environmental management methods may attract new customers or partners who are seeking more environmental friendly businesses. Read more about the benefits of an environmental friendly business.

 

What to tell staff:

Employees play a very important role in doing the right thing with your business. It is important to understand that waste separation and the time and labour involved can not only be costly for the employer, but also very mundane for the worker. It is by no means a glamourous task, so actively reducing plastic means less work in the end. Often, particularly in an office environment, out of sight is out of mind. Once a person puts a piece of plastic is in the trash, they will never see it again. Help staff understand plastic’s lifecycle, and that reducing plastic can make an enormous impact on our planet and communities. Read more on how to engage employees in CSR.

 

What to tell my guests:

Empower your staff to teach guests about your company’s sustainability policy, as it relates to plastic. Explain why you are not using plastic straws or bags, and actively tell your story! Read more on communicating sustainability to guests.

 

Plastic is a global problem, but one that is being tackled all over the world. See how some African countries governments even banned the use of plastic, and consider how we can learn from this example. It is important to move proactive and be the change you wish to see in the Asia Pacific region.

 

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A 20-Year-Old Dutch Inventor has Come Up with a Solution to the Ocean’s Plastic Problem

Categories: Planet, Recommended Reading, Sea, Uncategorized, Waste
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Dutch 200-696x392

Boyan Slat, the founder and CEO of The Ocean Cleanup, announced that his company plans to deploy a series of V-shaped floating barriers that would capture trash without harming sea life.

The Ocean Cleanup Organisation will be installing a 328ft-long (100 metre) barrier segment in the summer of 2016 in the North Sea, 14 miles (23km) off the coast of The Netherlands.

By Positive True NewsRead more.

 

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World’s largest ocean cleanup operation one step closer to launch

 

November 13 2015 – A crowdfunded 100km-long boom to clean up a vast expanse of plastic rubbish in the Pacific is one step closer to reality after successful tests of a scaled-down prototype in the Netherlands last week.

Further trials off the Dutch and Japanese coasts are now slated to begin in the new year. Arthur Neslen Read more.