Tuesday January 22, 2019
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Corporate Companies Come Together To Deal With Plastic Pollution

The companies that signed on, however, say this agreement will allow them to "eliminate the plastic items we don’t need

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Indonesian Minister of Foreign Affairs Retno Marsudi, right, stands with Indonesian Minister of Marine Affairs and Fisheries Susi Pudjiastuti while speaking during the opening of the Our Ocean Conference in Bali, Indonesia. VOA

More than 250 corporate signatories joined together to try and deal with plastic pollution in an announcement timed to coincide with the 5th Annual “Our Ocean Conference” in Bali, Indonesia.

Under terms of the agreement, the companies agreed to, among other things, make all of the plastics they produce recyclable by 2025. The signatories, including Coca-Cola, Danone, and Kellogg, also agreed to a 2025 deadline to increase the amount of recycled plastic they use in the production of their various products.

Reoccurring problem

Environmental groups like Greenpeace cautiously welcomed the announcement as “moving in the right direction,” but say the agreement is way too open-ended to have much of an impact.

 

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Plastic bottles and other plastics, including a mop, lie washed up on the bank of the River Thames in London, Britian. VOA

The facts are that around the world, according to a recent study, a whopping 91 percent of all plastic is never recycled. And all that plastic ends up in landfills, in the ocean, in the food chain and ultimately in us.

Greenpeace also noted that this agreement doesn’t change much because “corporations are not required to set actual targets to reduce the total amount of single-use plastics they are churning out. They can simply continue with business as usual after signing the commitment.”

 

Business as usual is also how the group Oceana views the agreement. It put out a stronger statement, denouncing the agreement. “None of these companies have committed to stop using plastic, to stop putting plastic into consumer products, or to even offer consumers alternatives.”

 

Microplastics, plastic
A volunteer shows plastics retrieved from the ocean, after a garbage collection, ahead of World Environment Day, on La Costilla Beach, on the coast of the Atlantic Ocean in Rota, Spain. VOA

Less plastic, more recycling

Most environmental groups are urging signatory companies like Coca-Cola and UniLever to stop the flow of plastics at the source.

 

“Every company that signed the declaration should commit to a meaningful, time-bound and specific percent-reduction of the amount of plastic it is putting into the market,” Oceana said in a statement. “…and to find alternative ways to package and deliver its products.”

In fact, Greenpeace officials point out that “11 of the largest consumer goods companies’ current plans allow them to increase their use of single-use plastics and none have set clear elimination or reduction targets.”

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A plastic bottle washed up by the sea . (VOA)

Despite the best intentions of the agreement, most environmental groups say this won’t do much to slow the amount of plastic building up around the world.

Also Read: Massive Benefits Could Be Achieved If Air Pollution Is Controlled In Asia: UN

The companies that signed on, however, say this agreement will allow them to “eliminate the plastic items we don’t need; innovate so all plastics we do need are designed to be safely reused, recycled, or composted; and circulate everything we use to keep it in the economy and out of the environment.”

Since its beginning, the annual Our Ocean Conference has worked with private companies and governments around the world to protect 12.4 million square kilometers of ocean with monetary commitments worth more than $18 billion. (VOA)

Next Story

New Technology That Can Clean Water Twice As of Now

more than one in 10 people in the world lack basic drinking water access, and by 2025, half of the world's population will be living in water-stressed areas.

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Novel technology cleans water using bacteria

Researchers, led by one of Indian-origin, have developed a new technology that can clean water twice as fast as commercially available ultrafiltration membranes, an advance that brings hope for countries like India where clean drinking water is a big issue.

According to a team from the Washington University in St. Louis, more than one in 10 people in the world lack basic drinking water access, and by 2025, half of the world’s population will be living in water-stressed areas.

The team led by Srikanth Singamaneni, Professor at the varsity, developed an ultrafiltration membrane using graphene oxide and bacterial nanocellulose that they found to be highly efficient, long-lasting and environment-friendly.

The membrane technology purifies water while preventing biofouling, or build up of bacteria and other harmful micro-organisms that reduce the flow of water.

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The membrane technology purifies water while preventing biofouling. VOA

For the study, published in the journal Environmental Science and Technology, they used bacteria to build such filtering membranes.

The Gluconacetobacter hansenii bacteria is a sugary substance that forms cellulose nanofibres when in water.

The team then incorporated graphene oxide (GO) flakes into the bacterial nanocellulose while it was growing, essentially trapping GO in the membrane to make it stable and durable.

They exposed the membrane to E. coli bacteria, then shone light on the membrane’s surface.

After being irradiated with light for just three minutes, the E. coli bacteria died. The team determined that the membrane quickly heated to above the 70 degrees Celsius required to deteriorate the cell walls of E. coli bacteria.

While the bacteria are killed, the researchers had a pristine membrane with a high quality of nanocellulose fibres that was able to filter water twice as fast as commercially available ultrafiltration membranes under a high operating pressure.

When they did the same experiment on a membrane made from bacterial nanocellulose without the reduced GO, the E. coli bacteria stayed alive.

The new technology is capable of identifying and quantifying different kinds of cyanobacteria, or blue-green algae, as a threat to shut down water systems when it suddenly proliferates. Pixabay

While the researchers acknowledge that implementing this process in conventional reverse osmosis systems is taxing, they propose a spiral-wound module system, similar to a roll of towels.
Also Read: India Gets Assistance of Rs 3,420 Crore From Japan
It could be equipped with LEDs or a type of nanogenerator that harnesses mechanical energy from the fluid flow to produce light and heat, which would reduce the overall cost.

If the technique were to be scaled up to a large size, it could benefit many developing countries where clean water is scarce, the researchers noted. (IANS)