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article imageThe plastic problem: No sign of plastic waste levels decreasing

By Tim Sandle     Oct 10, 2020 in Environment
COVID-19 has seen a reversal of attempts to minimize plastic waster. The coronavirus pandemic has seen large amounts of plastic used in face masks, testing kits, and screens. What is the current state of plastic waste?
Levels of plastic pollution continue to rise, especially in the oceans. The situation has not been helped by the necessary health measures put in force by COVID-19. However, there are signs in some areas that recycling is increasing and new ideas continue to come forwards to aid the recycling of waste products.
Plastic pollution in the oceans
The extent of plastic pollution in the world's seas continues to grow. The level of plastic waste in the oceans is equivalent of a refuse truck of plastic waste being dumped into the sea every minute. This figure is moving ever-upwards. The current rates indicated that by 2040 the amount of plastic entering the ocean will grow from 13 million tonnes this year, to 29 million tonnes in 2040.
To look at this figure from a different perspective, this represents 50 kilograms of waste plastic entering the ocean for every metre of coastline.
Recycling is up
On a more positive front, reports from the U.K. indicate that the level of household recycling has increased. Ninety percent of U.K. households report that they “regularly recycle”. This is based on data compiled by the campaign Recycle Now (which is supported by the British government) and reported in The Guardian. What is of interest is that despite the pressures of the lockdown, recycling rates have been maintained and in some cases they have increased.
Processing microplastics
A new device designed to captures microplastic particles from tyres as they are emitted has been developed. The gadget has been awarded the James Dyson award. The device is termed the Tyre Collective, and it comes from group of people at Imperial College London.
The focus of the device is with addressing the growing environmental problem of tyre wear caused by road transport. Residues from tyres are a major ocean pollutant and the new device uses electrostatic properties to collect the waste material so it can be re-processed.
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