Norway Leading Plastic Waste Solution

Recycling and waste disposal continues to be a widespread problem, but all hope is not lost. Environmental awareness has been increasing, and with it, countries around the globe have been coming up with innovative ways to manage valuable resources and cut back on waste. And indeed these countries have proven that there are always new solutions around the corner. Sometimes we just have to know where and how to look for them. 

Northern Ireland, for example, began making extensive use of plastic carrier bags starting in 2013. Not only that, but their overall recycling efficiency has gone up in recent years, having just reached its all-time high of 51.5% of household waste being recycled. Many other countries have made progress of their own as well. Denmark too has been making significant progress in the amount of waste they recycle; they have made it their goal to reach a quota of at least 50% household waste being recycled by the end of 2020. 

Sweden, meanwhile, has been doing fantastic. So much so, in fact, that they have needed to import waste from other countries just to keep their recycling plants busy and productive. They also hold the distinction of having less than 1% of their household waste end up in a landfill, a feat they have maintained since 2011. 

Special acknowledgment must be given to Norway, who have mastered the process of recycling plastic waste. They have done so with the help of an organization known as Infinitum. Since 1999, Infinitum has been dedicated to the efficient depositing of plastic bottles and beverage cans, which is made possible through Norway’s national deposit scheme. Thanks to this process, Norway has been able to recycle 97% of all its plastic bottles. 

Norway recycles 97% of their plastic.

So why haven’t more countries done as well as Norway in that regard? One of the biggest problems is cost efficiency. Recycling old plastic tends to be more expensive than simply creating new plastic, hence it’s a contributing factor to why there’s so much excess plastic waste to begin with. It’s unfortunate, but understandable all the same. 

Norway, thankfully, has taken this into consideration. Their solution to the money problem is with money itself. Norway operates on a loan scheme, where a consumer buys a plastic bottle and is charged a small additional fee. This fee, however, can be redeemed. The consumer can either take the bottle to a machine which scans the barcode and returns the money, or else there’s gas stations and other shops which offer cash or store credit. 

Even with such high recycling efficiency, there is always room for improvement. Even with over 95% of all the country’s bottles being recycled, as high of a statistic as that is, it still leaves an estimation of 150,000 bottles that will not be returned this year. 

Still, Norway and Infinitum must be commended for the vast progress they have made already. It’s little wonder that other countries have reached out to Infinitum, hoping to adopt similar recycling plans for themselves. 

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Grow Sponges and Prevent Plastic Waste Using an Organic Substance to Clean

Because of the harms of plastic, it is good to use eco-friendly cleaning items. For instance, the use of sponges instead of chemical cleaning items and products is better. So, to decrease plastic waste, it is worthy to grow your own sponge. Now, you can plant a loofah, to provide your kitchen with no-waste cleaning material. Most of the sponges come from the sea. However, now you can get it from your home because of how simple it is to plant in your home garden. 

For more complex cleaning needs, the eco-friendly sponge is an ultimate solution. It is a better option than a standard plastic foam or sponge for cleaning floors or utensils. It is commonly used for small elements or shelf-ready objectives. It is available in your garden, and you can store these sponges very easily. These are extremely customizable and are crafted to fit all your needs, sizes, and shapes. The eco-friendly sponges are known for their high-quality and organic nature. 

There are several benefits of these organic sponges. Some the benefits are given below.

Growing loofah’s

Cost-effective

These eco-friendly sponges are suitable for all types of cleaning. You can use these sponges for various kinds of product cleaning, and you do not need to purchase new ones, simply pluck them from the garden.

High-quality Material 

Offering a high-class performance due to the eco-friendly material, these are ideal for multiple uses. Organic sponges are the ultimate choice to be utilized since they can be employed for various purposes. The majority of the people find that the natural sponge is high-quality and better functionality as compared to the plastic sponges. They are durable and do not cause health issues. 

A dried loofah.

Eco-friendly material

Avail the opportunity of growing eco-friendly sponges in your garden. Find the best results by using green products because these are environment-friendly. It is good to secure your family from several health issues. It is an ideal choice for parents who want to get exclusive and quality items for their kids, and they need eco-friendly products because these sponges do not contain chemicals. Furthermore, it helps in reducing carbon footprints. The use of organic cleaning products is right for you because it does not leave an odor.

Harms of plastic and chemical cleaning products

Plastic products are poisonous and leave their harmful impact gradually, resulting in health issues. Cleaning items that have concentrated chemicals are detrimental to health. Plastic sponges can produce several digestion problems, such as asthma, lung problems, skin issues, and many more. Also, plastic waste is not able to dispose of without combustion. This procedure produces harmful gases and creates pollution in the environment. 

So, it is vital to prefer using green sponges instead of plastic foam or sponges.

Plastic Eating Bugs

Scientists have discovered that waxworms can eat and break down one of the most common plastics (polyethylene) into organic compounds.

Waxworms are the caterpillar larvae of wax moths. They are medium-white caterpillars with black-tipped feet and small, black or brown heads.

In the wild, they live as nest parasites in bee colonies and eat cocoons, pollen, and shed skins of bees. They also eat and chew through beeswax, thus receiving the name waxworms. 

Beekeepers consider waxworms to be pests. The wax moths will not attack the bees directly, but feed on the wax used by the bees to build their honeycombs. 

Two species of the waxworm, Galleria mellonella and Plodia interpunctella, have both been observed in a laboratory setting eating and digesting polyethylene plastic. 

Waxworm

The waxworms can digest polyethylene plastic films into ethylene glycol, a compound which biodegrades rapidly. This unusual ability to process matter typically thought of as non-edible may originate with the waxworm’s ability to process beeswax. Secluded from the guts of Plodia interpunctella wax worms, there are two strains of bacteria, Enterobacter asburiae, and Bacillus sp

Scientists have discovered these two different strains of bacteria are capable of decomposing polyethylene.

Over 12 hours, laboratory tests have confirmed with a polyethylene shopping bag, containing approximately 100 Galleria mellonella that waxworms, were able to consume almost 0.1 gram of the plastic bag.

Plastic eating bugs is an excellent solution to the world’s overwhelming plastic problem. However, Melittologists, bee experts disagree, regarding the dangers of an extinct bee population from the world. The bee is an invaluable species to the ecosystem, and it is essential to fight the ever-growing plastic problem.

We cannot allow the wild waxworm to roam about too freely and digest our plastic pollution and potentially kill our beehives. 

Somewhere between the two lines, there is a blurred solution, which is yet to be discovered.

IKEA Ditches Styrofoam for Mushroom Based Packaging

Known for its toxic impact on nature, plastic is one of the biggest environmental concerns we face today. One issue is that plastic forms so many of the containers and packaging used for retail products. Nearly half of all such packaging is plastic, in fact. While plastic does have a lot of convenient uses in that regard, it is a shame that is it so destructive to nature. 

Conversely, it is a good thing that mushrooms have so many environmental benefits, with more being uncovered all the time. Not long ago, scientists discovered a mushroom called the Pestalotiopsis microspore, which is able to digest plastic and convert it into a fungal-based food product for people to eat. 

Biodegradable packing made from mushrooms.

As it happens, mushrooms have proven to be useful once again. This time around, they have been able to act as a viable alternative to environmentally-unfriendly containers such as the ones made out of plastic or Styrofoam. These mushroom containers are made out of fungal roots and farming residues. At the start of the manufacturing process, fungus sprouts (also known as mycelium) are mixed in with seedlings and other agricultural residues. With a network of wire-like cells, it acts as a natural adhesive. 

Once the mushroom containers are no longer needed, they can be used for compost, and are otherwise fully biodegradable. The containers can decompose into nature within a timespan of one month, and are also completely harmless to any living creatures who happen to ingest them. Among other benefits, the containers also use only 12% of the energy used in plastic production, and they produce 90% less carbon emissions than plastic manufacture. 

Polystyrene for organic.

IKEA, a company that sells furniture, kitchen appliances, and home accessories, began to make use of these mushroom-based containers over the summer of 2019, even going far enough to announce that MycoComposite packaging would be replacing Styrofoam for all of the company’s products. Joanna Yarrow, IKEA’s Head of Sustainability, stated that this was, “[a] small yet significant step towards reducing waste and conserving ecological balance.” 

There are still many people to this day who are unaware of how damaging plastic and Styrofoam are. Styrofoam is made from polystyrene, a petroleum-based plastic, which causes pollution by emitting greenhouse gases. It is also very harmful to any creatures who end up consuming the Styrofoam. Cows and birds especially are at high risk for ingesting it, and it is believed that by 2050, 99% of birds will have plastic inside of them. It can also be harmful to people as well. For one thing, chemicals from Styrofoam containers can contaminate the food or drinks inside, which is detrimental to human health. 

All we can do for now is continue to spread awareness, and to hope that these new methods of environmentally-safe packaging will further catch on. IKEA’s new approach and their willingness to alter their production methods is promising, and it inspires faith that others will learn to do the same. 

The Ocean Clean Up Crew Unveil The “Interceptor”

Born in July 1994, Boyan Slat is a Dutch entrepreneur and inventor who uses technology to help combat global problems. In February 2013, he founded The Ocean Cleanup at a remarkably young age. The organization has since expanded to a team of around 80 people, of which Boyan is currently the CEO. 

In 2018, Boyan led his team to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, a massive vortex in the Pacific Ocean utterly loaded with pieces of floating plastic and other garbage. It is, in fact, the largest collection of plastic in all the oceans. 

In their efforts to clear the mess away, The Ocean Cleanup launched its first ever plastic-cleaning device. It was a 2,000-foot U-shaped array known as “System 001,” nicknamed “Wilson.” Unfortunately, Wilson’s sensors and satellite system began to malfunction, and its collected plastic began to leak back into the garbage vortex. Although the device was still successful in clearing out some of the plastic from the vortex, and it thankfully did no environmental damage of its own, ultimately it brought back to port for repairs. 

In summer of 2019, The Ocean Project tried again with a newer and better cleanup device, “System 001/B,” which used an underwater parachute to slow the device’s movement through the water, as well as inflatable bags to speed it up. 

Alas, the new design ran into another problem. It used a cork line to help contain the plastic, in a similar manner to lines that divide the lanes of a swimming pool. As it turned out, the line wasn’t tall enough to prevent plastic from passing over. It will be necessary to improve upon this and make the cork line taller to ensure the device works correctly. 

The Ocean Project still has not given up, and is determined to continue their clean-up efforts at the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. In the meantime, they have focused their efforts on clearing up river pollution. On October 26th, 2019, they unveiled their latest invention, called “The Interceptor.” Having been in development since 2015, it too is built around cleaning up plastic, capable of extracting anywhere from 50,000kg to 100,000kg of trash per day. 

In fact, multiple Interceptors have been built. Two of them are already active in Jakarta (Indonesia) and Klang (Malaysia) respectively. A third Interceptor will be set up in Can Tho in the Mekong Delta (Vietnam) while a fourth will be set up in Santa Domingo (Dominican Republic). There has also been an agreement made to set up another Interceptor near Bangkok, and an in-progress agreement for another one in LA Country (USA). 

While there has been some trial-and-error, everyone at The Ocean Project deserves praise and recognition for their innovative methods and for all the hard work they’ve done to make this planet a brighter, cleaner, and safer place. We all could take some inspiration from them, both in their good cause and in their refusal to let their setbacks stop them. 

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