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According to researchers the University of Michigan, “[w]aste sources, quantities and destinations are all in flux, and shutdowns have devastated an industry that was already struggling” and at the same time, items that used to be deemed reusable have now been banned in order to reduce the potential that they will increase exposure to the virus. In the meantime, lobbyists for the plastic industry seem to have taken advantage of the situation and pushed to eliminate plastic bag bans altogether – also due to the infection risk they claim re-usable bags cause. Plus the grocery delivery services like Instacart do not use reusable bags. The U of M researchers who are working on recycling innovation are concerned about challenges facing the recycling sector and the increasing trends in the use of single-use goods, particularly plastic, and the lasting negative effects on the circular economy the pandemic could cause.
Electronics Piling Up Are an “Urban Mine”
Whether we think of it this way or not, e-waste is valuable — indeed, experts calculate that a ton of e-waste contains as many as 100 times more gold than a ton of gold ore and is estimated to be worth globally more than $62.5 billion annually. But we will continue to waste it unless we require more from manufacturers in terms of collection and recycling. In fact, the UN University predicts that if we continue to consume and discard at the current rate, we will add as much as 120 million tons in the next 30 years. E-waste is also dangerous when disposed of in landfills or incinerated. It contains toxic or hazardous substances, such as mercury and brominated flame retardants (BFR). Several studies have linked the unregulated recycling of e-waste to stillbirth and premature birth, damage to the human brain or nervous system, and even hearing and heart issues.
Why This Matters: While fishing gear that is in use is a threat to marine life like whales, abandoned fishing gear is just a tragedy waiting to happen and completely needless — eliminating it is totally within our control.
As nations across the world work to address the plastic pollution crisis–especially in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic–Canada made a big step in its effort to control needless plastic waste. As CNN reported, “The country plans to ban single-use plastics — checkout bags, straws, stir sticks, six-pack rings, cutlery and even foodware made from […]
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