Deep Dives
Thought-provoking research providing extensive learning opportunities

Emergence of a neopelagic community through the establishment of coastal species on the high seas

Haram, L.E. et al., Nature Communications Plastics & Pollution

Discoveries of persistent coastal species in the open ocean shift our understanding of biogeographic barriers. Floating plastic debris from pollution now supports a novel sea surface community composed of coastal and oceanic species at sea that might portend significant ecological shifts in the marine environment.

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Growing environmental footprint of plastics driven by coal combustion

Cabernard, L. et al., Nature Sustainability Plastics & Pollution

Research on the environmental impacts from the global value chain of plastics has typically focused on the disposal phase, considered most harmful to the environment and human health. However, the production of plastics is also responsible for substantial environmental, health and socioeconomic impacts.

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Reckoning with the U.S. Role in Global Ocean Plastic Waste

National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine Plastics & Pollution

The United States is a major producer of plastics and in 2016, generated more plastic waste by weight and per capita than any other nation. Although the U.S. solid waste management system is advanced, it is not sufficient to deter leakage into the environment.

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Plastic waste release caused by COVID-19 and its fate in the global ocean

Peng, Y. et al., PNAS Plastics & Pollution

Plastic waste causes harm to marine life and has become a major global environmental concern. The recent COVID-19 pandemic has led to an increased demand for single-use plastic, intensifying pressure on this already out-of-control problem.

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Oil companies are ploughing money into fossil-fuelled plastics production at a record rate – new research

Fredric Bauer & Tobias Dan Nielsen, The Conversation Plastics & Pollution

As traditional demands for oil – vehicle fuels – are declining as the transport sector is increasingly electrified, the oil industry is seeing plastics as a key output that can make up for losses in other markets. Investing in plastics has therefore become a key strategy for fossil fuel firms.

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Abandoned, lost and discarded fishing gear ‘ghost nets’ are increasing through time in Northern Australia

Hardesty, B.D. et al., Marine Pollution Bulletin Fisheries & Aquaculture Plastics & Pollution

The GoC acts as a sink for ghost nets that originate from regional fishing activities. Despite multijurisdictional management efforts, increasing net numbers shows high regional input of ALDFG.  

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The New Coal: Plastics and Climate Change

Vallette, J. et al., Bennington College Plastics & Pollution

As of 2020, the U.S. plastics industry is responsible for at least 232 million tons of CO2e gas emissions per year. This amount is equivalent to the average emissions from 116 average-sized (500-megawatt) coal-fired power plants.

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From Pollution to Solution: a global assessment of marine litter and plastic pollution

United Nations Environment Programme Plastics & Pollution

From Pollution to Solution: A global assessment of marine litter and plastic pollution reveals the impact of marine litter and plastic pollution in the environment and their effects on the health of ecosystems, wildlife and humans.

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Modeling the Pathways and Accumulation Patterns of Micro- and Macro-Plastics in the Mediterranean

Tsiaras, K., et al., Frontiers in Marine Science Plastics & Pollution

The Mediterranean is considered a hot-spot for plastic pollution, due to its semi-enclosed nature and heavily populated coastal areas.

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Achieving net-zero greenhouse gas emission plastics by a circular carbon economy

Meys, R. et al., Science Plastics & Pollution

The great majority of plastics in current use are sourced from fossil fuels, with additional fossil fuels combusted to power their manufacture. Substantial research is focused on finding more sustainable building blocks for next-generation polymers.

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Paint particles in the marine environment

Andrew Turner, University of Plymouth Plastics & Pollution

Because paint particles consist of a resin (polymer) combined with one or more additives, they bear compositional similarities with microplastics. Despite these shared characteristics, however, paint particles are often undetected, deliberately overlooked or evade classification in the pool of micro-debris.

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Toward the Detection and Imaging of Ocean Microplastics With a Spaceborne Radar

Madeline C. Evans & Christopher S. Ruf, IEEE Xplore Plastics & Pollution

Most direct measurements come from plankton net trawling made in these regions; concentrations in other regions have been estimated by microplastic transport models that depend on large-scale ocean circulation patterns. However, global measurements of microplastic distribution and its temporal variability are lacking.

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Together Is Better: The Rumen Microbial Community as Biological Toolbox for Degradation of Synthetic Polyesters

Quartinello, F. et al., Frontiers in Bioengineering and Biotechnology Plastics & Pollution

Microorganisms, like bacteria and fungi, are becoming an emerging resource for the development of eco-sustainable plastic degradation and recycling processes.

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Global assessment of innovative solutions to tackle marine litter

Bellou, N. et al., Nature Sustainability Plastics & Pollution

Marine litter is one of the most relevant pollution problems that our oceans are facing today. Marine litter in our oceans is a major threat to a sustainable planet.

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Ocean Plastic: What You Need to Know

Audrey Nakagawa, EcoWatch Plastics & Pollution

Ocean bound plastic is plastic waste that is headed toward our oceans.

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Becoming #GenerationRestoration: Ecosystem Restoration for People, Nature and Climate

Dickson, B. et al., UNEP Energy Solutions Fisheries & Aquaculture Plastics & Pollution Shipping & Ports Tourism

To launch the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration, UNEP has released this synthesis report as a call to action for anyone and everyone to join the #GenerationRestoration movement to prevent, halt and reverse the degradation of ecosystems worldwide.

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3,000 Shipping Containers Fell Into the Pacific Ocean Last Winter

Tim Lydon, The Revelator Plastics & Pollution Shipping & Ports

A rise in container-ship accidents adds to the growing marine plastic pollution problem and poses risks to ocean health, wildlife and mariners.

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Microplastics are everywhere — but are they harmful?

XiaoZhi Lim, Nature Plastics & Pollution

Scientists are rushing to study the tiny plastic specks that are in marine animals — and in us.

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Anthropogenic pollution in deep-marine sedimentary systems -- A geological perspective on the plastic problem

Ian Kane & Andrea Fildani, Geology Plastics & Pollution

A new focus article in the May issue of Geology summarizes research on plastic waste in marine and sedimentary environments.

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More than 1000 rivers account for 80% of global riverine plastic emissions into the ocean

Meijer, L.J.J. et al, Science Advances Plastics & Pollution

Plastic waste increasingly accumulates in the marine environment, but data on the distribution and quantification of riverine sources required for development of effective mitigation are limited.

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