With 18 million tonnes, a remote island turns into plastic junkyard

The beaches of Henderson Island, an uninhabited island in the South Pacific Ocean about 5,000 km away from the nearest population centre, are heavily littered with plastic waste. The beaches have an estimated 38 million plastic debris items weighing 17.6 tonnes. The largest of the four islands of the Pitcairn Island group, Henderson Island is... Continue Reading →

Soon, plastic can be biodegraded more efficiently

Polyethylene, which is a widely used plastic and the toughest to be degraded, has met its match. Larvae of wax moth Galleria mellonella has been shown to degrade polyethylene into ethylene glycol at an unbelievably fast rate. Other methods of biodegrading polyethylene using a culture of fungus Penicillium simplicissimum after treating with nitric oxide and... Continue Reading →

Plastic waste found in fish meant for human consumption

In a first, researchers have found plastic debris in fishes in Indonesia and California, U.S. meant for human consumption, raising a red flag for human health. According to a paper published in September 2015 in the journal Scientific Reports, man-made debris was found in 28% of individual fish and in 55% of all species samples... Continue Reading →

Plastic degrading bacteria isolated

A bacterium species capable of breaking down plastic — poly(ethylene terephthalate), or PET — has been identified by a team of Japanese researchers.  The bacterium uses two enzymes in sequence to break down the highly biodegradable-resistant polymer PET.  The results are published today (March 11) in the journal Science. Except for rare instances of two... Continue Reading →

8 million tonnes of plastic waste entered oceans in 2010

For the first time, researchers have quantified the amount of plastic waste entering the ocean from land. In 2010, an estimated eight million tonnes of plastic waste made its way into the ocean; it is nearly the amount of plastic generated globally in 1961. The results of the study were published in the journal Science... Continue Reading →

Editorial: The cost of convenience of plastic bags

Despite several committees constituted by the Union government highlighting the many problems posed by thin, non-biodegradable, single-use plastic bags, and a body of evidence also indicating their ill-effects, the government emphatically stated recently that there would be “no ban on manufacture and use of plastic bags” in the country. But such a ban is already... Continue Reading →

Mountains of plastic waste afloat in the oceans

  Believe it or not, nearly 269,000 tonnes of plastic comprising an estimated 5.25 trillion plastic particles are floating in the world’s oceans, including the Bay of Bengal. This estimate does not take into account the amount of plastic waste found in the shorelines, on the seabed, suspended in the water column and that consumed... Continue Reading →

Plastic garbage patch in the Pacific Ocean

Published in The Hindu on August 28, 2009 Scientists discovered extensive plastic garbage patch in the North Pacific Ocean Gyre, located some 1,000 miles off California's coast. What is intriguing is that how could there be this so much plastic floating in a random patch of ocean so far away from land. Little was known... Continue Reading →

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