Review finds plastic pollution qualifies as planetary boundary threat

Review in Environmental Science and Technology presents evidence that plastic pollution fulfills all three criteria necessary for consideration as a planetary boundary threat: global exposure, not easily reversible, creating hazards disrupting earth system processes; suggests research priorities to find extent of planetary boundary but states risk that “boundary threshold for environmental plastics could be crossed before it is known”

EU consults on nanomaterial definition

European Commission launches targeted stakeholder consultation to review 2011 recommendation on a nanomaterial definition for use across regulations; feedback being accepted until June 30, 2021; recent review article finds nanomaterials primarily used as antimicrobials in food packaging, applications could expand in future pending safety uncertainties

Canada paves way for future regulations on plastics

Government lists plastic products in Schedule 1 of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA) as “toxic”; legal step required in order to move forward with new regulation, product restrictions; will support government in implementing national plastic plans

Washington State passes comprehensive plastics legislation

Governor for US state of Washington signs Senate Bill 5022; bans expanded polystyrene foam takeaway containers by June 2024; beginning January 1, 2022 all single-use service ware only given to customers upon request; adds minimum recycled content requirement to many plastic containers and trash bags; no longer requires triangular arrow recycle symbol on hard plastic products

Study finds PFAS in 100% of sampled breastmilk

Environmental Science and Technology publishes study in which 100% of milk samples from breast-feeding mothers contained at least one of 39 per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS); Phased-out PFOS and PFOA were most abundant compounds but currently used short-chain PFAS such as PFHpA and PFHpA detected in majority of samples and becoming more common; The Guardian reports chemical companies hid risks about short-chain PFAS in food packaging

EU adopts Zero Pollution Action Plan

European Commission announces adoption of action plan towards zero pollution for air, water, and soil; includes targets to by 2030 reduce plastic litter at sea by 50%, microplastics release into environment by 30%, residual municipal solid waste by 50%; will revise air and water quality standards, review majority of EU waste laws, increase enforcement

Nature Food study finds gaps in food system plastics research

Systematic scoping review assesses the research literature covering plastic’s effects on human health, the environment, and food security/economics through the entire food system from 2000 through 2018; includes over 3,300 studies; found majority of previous research focused on food security/economics; identified gaps related to studies on the effect of plastics on human health, meta-analyses, and research within low-income nations

Forbes examines difficulties of beverage carton recycling

Article discusses the challenges of recycling TetraPak food and drink containers due to the composite of paper, plastic, and aluminum; few recycling facilities can handle the containers; only 16% of beverage cartons recycled in the US; calls for legislators to incentivize use of more recyclable containers

Study tracks mineral water microplastics from well to bottle

Recent publication in peer-reviewed journal Water measures microplastic content in well water at each stage of the bottling process to track microplastic sources; microplastics introduced at all steps of bottling process with greatest increase at capping

EFSA determines titanium dioxide not safe as food additive

European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) releases new assessment of titanium dioxide as a food additive, could not rule out genotoxicity; change in opinion from last assessment in 2016; announcement does not affect food contact materials