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EARTH DAY 2018 Aims to End Plastic Pollution

From jobsite waste and office trash to medical refuse and industrial dumpsters, the global recycling movement has been overwhelmed by "disposable" microplastics. On April 22, the Earth Day Network will sound the alarm around the globe.

WASHINGTON -- Earth Day Network (EDN), the organization that leads Earth Day worldwide, this year will focus on mobilizing the world to End Plastic Pollution, including creating support for a global effort to eliminate single-use plastics along with uniform regulation for the disposal of plastics. EDN will educate millions of people about the health and other risks associated with the use and disposal of plastics, including pollution of our oceans, water, and wildlife, and about the growing body of evidence that decomposing plastics are creating serious global health problems.

From poisoning and injuring marine life to the ubiquitous presence of plastics in our food to disrupting human hormones and causing major life-threatening diseases and even early puberty, the exponential growth of plastics is threatening our planet's survival. EDN has built a multi-year campaign to End Plastic Pollution. Our goals include ending single use plastics, promoting alternatives to fossil fuel-based materials, promoting 100 percent recycling of plastics, corporate and government accountability and changing human behavior concerning plastics.

"There is a growing tidal wave of interest in ending plastic pollution and some countries and governments are already in the vanguard. Earth Day Network believes we can turn that tidal wave into a permanent solution to plastics pollution," said Kathleen Rogers, President of EDN.

EDN's End Plastic Pollution campaign includes four major components:

  1. Leading a grassroots movement to support the adoption of a global framework to regulate plastic pollution;
  2. Educating, mobilizing and activating citizens across the globe to demand that governments and corporations control and clean up plastic pollution;
  3. Educating people worldwide to take personal responsibility for plastic pollution by choosing to reject, reduce, reuse and recycle plastics; and
  4. Promoting local government regulatory and other efforts to tackle plastic pollution.

Looking ahead, Earth Day Network also is planning to leverage its platform with growing interest in the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day in 2020 as a catalyst for global action.

"We will mobilize our global network of NGOs, grassroots organizations, campus youth, mayors and other local elected leaders, faith leaders, artists and athletes, and students and teachers to build a world of educated consumers, voters and activists of all ages who understand the environmental, climate and health consequences of using plastic," said Rogers.

Currently about 300 million tons of plastic are produced each year to make bags, bottles, packages, and other commodities for people all over the world. Unfortunately, only about 10% of this plastic is properly recycled and reused. The rest ends up as waste in landfills or as litter in our natural environment, where it leaches dangerous chemicals into the nearby soil and water, endangering humans and wildlife alike.

Earth Day Network is asking governments, businesses, and individuals to End Plastic Pollution. Plastic pollution is not only impacting our waters and marine life, but also the food chain and our overall health. Earth Day Network is mobilizing key actors and institutions and citizens across the globe to bring about a new level of consciousness about plastics pollution and a paradigm shift. 

Speaking of paradigm shifts...

Microplastics and Drinking Water

The billions upon billions of items of plastic waste choking our oceans, lakes, and rivers and piling up on land is more than unsightly and harmful to plants and wildlife. Plastic Pollution is a very real and growing threat to human health.

The following 10 facts shed light on how plastic is proving dangerous to human health.  To learn more about the threat and impact of plastic pollution and get tips to reduce your plastic consumption, download our Plastic Pollution Primer and Toolkit today!

FACT #1
Microplastics[1] in different forms are present in almost all water systems in the world, be they streams, rivers, lakes, or oceans.[2]

FACT #2
According to a study conducted by Orb Media on plastics and tap water, 83% of tested water samples from major metropolitan areas around the world were contaminated with plastic fibers.[3]

FACT #3
Plastic fibers were also found in bottled water produced by 11 of the world’s largest brands purchased from 19 locations in 9 countries. 93% of bottled water showed some sign of microplastic contamination, including polypropylene, nylon, and polyethylene terephthalate (PET).[4]

FACT #4
Each year, about 1 million tons of tiny plastic fibers are released into wastewater.[5]

FACT #5
There are no regulatory limits on the levels of microplastics in bottled water.[6]

FACT #6
In 2015, the US passed the Microbead-Free Waters Act, banning plastic microbeads[7] in cosmetics and personal care products sold in the United States.

FACT #7
Microfibers from synthetic fibers have been shown to make up the majority of human material found along the worlds shorelines, accounting for up to as much as 85% of the total.[8]

FACT #8
A single fleece jacket sheds up to 250,000 microfibers during a single wash.[9]

FACT #9
Studies have shown that as much as 10% of oceanic microplastic pollution originates from paint that becomes dust. This plastic dust has been observed to coat the ocean surface. [10]  

FACT #10
Microplastics can also come from car tires. Plastic dust is created by the friction between the wheels and the road and is blown into waterways by the wind. Car tires shed 20 grams of plastic dust every 100 kilometers.[11]

[1] Some microplastics start out as large plastic pieces, slowly eroded by water or exposure to the sun and the elements; others start off as microplastics specifically produced for certain uses. The first example of this is microbeads, which are created mostly for use in cosmetic and hygiene products. They are very tiny pieces of manufactured polyethylene plastic that are added as exfoliants to health and beauty products, such as some cleansers, toothpaste, facewash, soap and shower cream.  Others originate from plastic-based fabrics such as polyester and nylon that shed plastic fibers when washed. Several studies have shown synthetic fibers to make up the lion’s share of microplastics found in oceans, rivers, and lakes, and clothes made from synthetics (polyester, acrylic, nylon, and so on) are widely implicated as the source of that pollution. Microplastics also originate from the dust tires leave on roads due to friction. Flakes of paint can also peel off boats and ships at shipyards and marinas in lakes, rivers and the ocean.

[2] http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/next/earth/freshwater-microplastics/ 

[3] https://orbmedia.org/stories/Invisibles_plastics 

[4] https://orbmedia.org/sites/default/files/FinalBottledWaterReport.pdf 

[5] https://orbmedia.org/stories/Invisibles_plastics 

[6] http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-43388870 

[7] Microbeads are very tiny pieces of manufactured polyethylene plastic that are added as exfoliants to health and beauty products, such as some cleansers, toothpaste, facewash, soap and shower cream.

[8] https://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/2014/oct/27/toxic-plastic-synthetic-microscopic-oceans-microbeads-microfibers-food-chain 

[9] https://www.surfrider.org/coastal-blog/entry/plastic-microfibers-recent-findings-and-potential-solutions 

[10] https://orbmedia.org/stories/Invisibles_plastics 

[11] http://www.miljodirektoratet.no/no/Nyheter/Nyheter/2015/Mars-2015/Vi-fyller-havet-med-mikroplast/ 

For more information, visit: https://www.earthday.org.  

 

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