Deep Dives
Thought-provoking research providing extensive learning opportunities

Breaking the Plastic Wave - Summary Report

The Pew Charitable Trusts & SYSTEMIQ Plastics & Pollution

A comprehensive assessment of pathways towards stopping ocean plastic pollution.

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Association of zoonotic protozoan parasites with microplastics in seawater and implications for human and wildlife health

Zhang, E. et al., Scientific Reports Plastics & Pollution

Plastics are widely recognized as a pervasive marine pollutant. Microplastics have been garnering increasing attention due to reports documenting their ingestion by animals, including those intended for human consumption.

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Our Ocean Is Choking on Plastic—But It’s a Problem We Can Solve

Winnie Lau, The Pew Charitable Trusts Plastics & Pollution

A new analytical tool can show the main sources of plastic pollution and help governments determine how to best reduce the amount that is reaching the ocean.

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Looking back at the One Ocean Summit: What commitments for the ocean?

Ocean & Climate Platform (OCP) Fisheries & Aquaculture Plastics & Pollution

After two days of discussions and debates, some 40 Heads of State and Government responded positively to the invitation of the President of the French Republic to commit for the ocean at the One Planet Summit for the Ocean in Brest.

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As world drowns in plastic waste, U.N. to hammer out global treaty

Charles Pekow, Mongabay Plastics & Pollution

At the end of February, the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA) will tackle a challenging task: the creation of a landmark treaty to control plastic pollution worldwide.

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Impacts of Plastic Pollution in the Oceans, on Marine Species, Biodiversity and Ecosystems

World Wildlife Fund Plastics & Pollution

A new report commissioned by WWF provides the most comprehensive account to date of the extent to which plastic pollution is affecting the global ocean, the impacts it’s having on marine species and ecosystems, and how these trends are likely to develop in future.

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Plastic Drawdown: A rapid assessment tool for developing national responses to plastic pollution when data availability is limited, as demonstrated in the Maldives

Royle, J. et al., Global Environmental Change Plastics & Pollution

Developing a common understanding of a jurisdiction’s plastic waste stream and the solutions available to decision-makers is vital to build consensus across stakeholders and to align on an evidence-based portfolio of priority instruments.

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Connecting the Dots: Plastic Pollution and the Planetary Emergency

Environmental Investigation Agency Plastics & Pollution

The toxic pollution resulting from rampant overproduction of virgin plastics and their lifecycles is irreversible, directly undermines our health, drives biodiversity loss, exacerbates climate change, and risks generating large-scale harmful environmental changes.

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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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