Waste, Reuse & Recycling

How much plastic have humans made?

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(Credit: UC Santa Barbara)

Humans have created more than 8 billion metric tons of plastic since the large-scale production of synthetic materials began in the early 1950s, a new study suggests.

The study provides the first global analysis of the production, use, and fate of all plastics ever made, including synthetic fibers. Read more »

Plastics leave permanent indestructible legacy

Stomach contents of an albatross chick photographed in the Pacific in 2009. Image: By Chris Jordan (via US Fish & Wildlife Service HQ)

By Tim Radford, Climate News Network
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Henderson Island: the remote paradise with the world's biggest plastic problem

In the middle of the South Pacific Ocean, far from the urban, developed world, there is a small, lush, green island with white sand beaches. However, this uninhabited, remote corner of the tropics—Henderson Island—also has a trash problem. Read more »

Plant cell structure discovery could lead to improved renewable materials

Major steps forward in the use of plants for renewable materials, energy and for building construction could soon arise, thanks to a key advance in understanding the structure of wood.

The step forward follows research by the Universities of Warwick and Cambridge and the unexpected discovery of a previously unknown arrangement of molecules in plant cell walls.

The paper describing this work was Editors’ Choice for the American Chemical Society for March 25th. The researchers investigated the polymer xylan, which comprises a third of wood matter. Read more »

Tetra Pak launches carton made entirely from plant based and renewable materials

Tetra Pak, the world leader in food processing and packaging solutions, is launching the industry’s first carton made entirely from plant based, renewable packaging materials. The new Tetra Rex® carton will be the first in the market to have bio-based low-density polyethylene (LDPE) films and bio-based high-density polyethylene (HDPE) caps, both derived from sugar cane, in addition to Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified paperboard. Read more »

Have vacuum cleaners been sucked into the throwaway culture?

A study has been launched by Nottingham Trent University to examine the product life of vacuum cleaners and to find out whether they have been sucked into the disposable culture.

Led by Professor Tim Cooper, an expert in sustainable consumption at the School of Architecture, Design and the Built Environment, the research will explore how perceptions of dirt, damage and poor maintenance may lead to consumers disposing of their vacuums when they are easily repairable.

The project aims to increase the lifespan of vacuums to help save raw materials and reduce landfill costs. Read more »

Wood-waste biofuel to cut greenhouse gas and transform shipping industry

A sustainable biofuel made from Norwegian forest wood waste could help transform the shipping industry and reduce global greenhouse gas emissions. Alternative sustainable fuels are urgently needed in the marine transport sector due to stringent upcoming regulations demanding reduced sulphur and carbon content in diesels and oils from January 2015. Read more »

Reducing landfill, creating recycled materials: Loughborough University develops a new Footwear Recycling system

A newly developed recycling process could make landfill sites filled with old shoes a thing of the past as the world’s first comprehensive system for separating and recovering useful materials from old footwear is successfully trialled. Read more »

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