Food packaging identified as primary source of aquatic litter

Nature Sustainability publishes research integrating litter inventories from seven aquatic environments around the globe; finds food packaging makes up the largest share of litter in all aquatic environments (50-88%), except the open ocean; of 112 litter types, 10 make up 75% of litter; top 4 items come from food packaging (44% of total): plastic bags, plastic bottles, food containers, cutlery, and wrappers

Researchers propose Global Plastic Pollution Observation System

Environmental Science and Technology publishes paper proposing the establishment of the Global Plastic Pollution Observation System; would assist evidence-based policymaking by standardizing data collection on plastic pollution in atmospheric, terrestrial, and aquatic ecosystems; serve as “umbrella” by partnering with existing programs and initiatives at multiple scales

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”

New book discusses chemical pollution, reproductive health

Reproductive epidemiologist Shanna Swan publishes book discussing link between declining sperm count and chemical pollution; describes observed changes in sexual development, effect on long-term health; offers advice on how to protect oneself and unborn life from chemical exposure; upcoming webinar scheduled for February 23, 2021

Webinar series on human health impacts of chemical exposures

Collaboration on Health and the Environment (CHE) and University of California launch seven-part webinar series on cumulative impacts of toxic chemicals; aims to educate researchers, health professionals, policy makers, advocates and patients; addresses topics such as infertility, prenatal exposure

US identified as leading source of plastic pollution

Peer-reviewed study estimates total amounts of mis-managed plastic waste, includes domestic illegal dumping and waste exports to foreign recyclers; finds US produces greatest amount of plastic waste per capita, potentially third largest source worldwide of ocean plastics; recommends reduction of plastic production, product re-designs

Calls for a UN global treaty on plastic pollution

Ellen MacArthur Foundation, World Wildlife Fund, and Boston Consulting Group advocate United Nations (UN) members to establish global treaty; publish report detailing business case, launch call for industry partners to join effort

5th Progress Report by Global Plastics Alliance

Global Plastics Alliance reports ‘steady’ increase in marine litter prevention projects; Pew Charitable Trusts estimates that current commitments would enable only 7% reduction in annual plastic flows into the ocean

Pew Charitable Trust report evaluates plastic pollution scenarios

Analysis calculates current commitments will only reduce plastic pollution flows into oceans by 7%; implementing all feasible solutions now could cut pollution by up to 78%; authors call for urgent and coordinated action by all stakeholders, redirecting all current and future investments away from virgin plastic infrastructure

UNEP and EU updates on marine plastic pollution

United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) completes survey of South-East Asian consumers and businesses, finds ‘significant disconnect’ between expectations and actions taken to address plastic waste; European Commission (EC) and European Environment Agency (EEA) publish status reports on marine protection efforts in the EU, show mixed results with increase in plastics contamination