New ideas on plastic in the environment

PLASTIC in our oceans is an increasing problem to marine life and our environment and I was interested to learn this past week of two new ideas to help reduce our plastic bag usage and to make use of waste plastic recovered from the sea in a practical way.

Radio New Zealand International (RNZI) first presented a news bulletin in which it was said Cassava offers a Pacific alternative to the use of traditional plastic bags.

This is what was reported (quote)

“Plastic bags made from cassava starch are being considered as an alternative to traditional plastic bags in the Pacific.

“A number of Pacific Island states have banned plastic bags, amidst a wider regional effort to reduce ocean waste.

“Indonesia recently offered Pacific countries help with technology to produce bio-degradable plastic made from cassava, a crop grown throughout the region.

“Indonesian officials say the bags can easily dissolve in warm water.

“A New Zealand-based scientist specialising in biopolymers said depending on how they are used, cassava bags could have merit.

“Dr Florian Graichen said international standards would first have to be met.

“If it’s certified and accepted, then you would fulfil either the bio-degradability or compostability standards. And I think then you can look at it as a credible alternative. Having said that, you wouldn’t want to encourage just plastic bags being thrown away in any shape, form or whatsoever,” he said.

“Regional leaders at last month’s Pacific Islands Forum summit in Apia pledged efforts to reduce plastic waste in the ocean, and appear to be showing interest in the biopolmer products coming online globally.

“Dr Graichen, who is with the New Zealand crown research institute Scion, was hesitant to attribute the cassava bags as an answer to the massive problems with plastic waste, but suggested it could be better option to a plastic bag that never degrades.

“But again you wouldn’t want to have that simply just lying around and flying around. The first thing you want to look at is how can you avoid it, regardless of what the bag is,” he said.

A second innovation I read about on Linkedin on 25 September 2017 in an article by Roy Rimmer mentioned that a well know shoe manufacturer had launched making new training shoes from ocean plastic waste.

 This is what the article said :

“It is well known that plastic waste causes huge pollution problems throughout the world’s oceans. Plastics are estimated to account for nearly 80 per cent of the world’s marine debris, and a study in 2015 found that about 8 million metric tons of it pollute the seas every year.

“Naturally, any steps that can be taken to reduce this level of pollution will help reduce damage to wildlife and the wider environment and are to be welcomed.

“There is a large area of ocean known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, which is contaminated by masses of chemical sludge, pelagic plastics and other forms of marine debris that has been caught by currents. In the USA alone, around 500 million plastic straws are used every day. This fact inspired the National Parks Service to launch the Be Straw Free campaign, to reduce the amount of plastic waste ending up in the oceans. The new initiative from Adidas also aims to reduce marine plastic pollution.

“Adidas, in conjunction with Parley for the Ocean, an environmental initiative, has launched a new range of products manufactured from plastic debris that is found in the ocean. The popular Ultra Boost shoe is to be produced in three editions; Ultra Boost, Ultra Boost X and Ultra Boost Uncaged. The plastic waste recycling for each pair of these shoes will use the equivalent of eleven plastic bottles and the laces, sock liner covers and heel lining will also be made of recycled materials.

“Adidas aims to produce one million pairs of the shoes using plastic from the oceans this year, making a small initial impact on the problem of marine pollution. The company claims to integrate sustainability into its business model, making it an opportunity to gain a competitive advantage in addition to the environmental benefits it provides.

By 2020, Adidas hopes that all the shoes it manufactures will be made from recycled plastic.

This would make a significant difference to waste plastic in the oceans, as well as leading the way for other major companies to examine their environmental impact.

“The new Ultra Boost X shoes from Adidas are not only brilliant from an environmental point of view, but they are also great shoes, incorporating the Boost technology that provides high energy and comfort. They also look good, and are available in two different colours: white and pale blues or navy with light blues, both representing the ocean in its different moods. Because they are so lightweight, the shoes are excellent for running and the Boost technology helps to make it feel more impactful. Because the uppers are knitted, they keep the feet cool and add to the overall light feeling of the shoes.

“The company has previously demonstrated its commitment to reducing plastic waste pollution in the oceans in other ways. In addition to helping the environment by using recycled plastic for these new shoes, last year, Adidas replaced the plastic bags in its stores with paper ones, thus eliminating nearly seventy million plastic bags. Leading brands such as Adidas have an important role to play in reducing marine pollution.”


Yours sincerely

Frank Short

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