PFPW.NEWS – May 30, 2020

~   Microplastics – Legal Liabilities and Insurance Options
~   Microplastics – Effects on Lake Ontario Ecosystem
~   Microplastics – Separation from Aqueous Solutions
~   Plastic Waste – Current Efforts are “Ineffective and Misleading”
~   Recycling – Annual Report Issued by The Recycling Partnership
~   Recycling – Local Programs Affected by Funding Shortfalls
~   Polystyrene (PS) – Degradation by Pseudomonas DSM 50071

Microplastics – Legal Liabilities and Insurance Options
– According to a May 29, 2020 analysis by Pasich LLP, published in The New York Law Journal  “… plastic waste has infiltrated the world’s oceans and lands and has become a potential hazard to our environment and human health … the plastic pollution threat has been compounded by the discovery of microplastics … The long-term effects of microplastic ingestion on human health are currently unknown … as more studies are conducted, specific chemicals in plastic products are linked to bodily harm, and the ingestion of microplastics is better understood, businesses that are responsible or even potentially responsible for an individual’s exposure to plastics could face a range of liabilities …” – The analysis provides a discussion of insurance options: Commercial General Liability (CGL) with endorsements and exclusions, employer liability coverage, and directors and officers – “… businesses should carefully review policies and never assume that something, such as plastics, is excluded …” #MicroPlastics #PlasticWaste #FoodPackaging #SingleUsePlastic #PasichLLP

Microplastics – Effects on Lake Ontario Ecosystem
– According to a May 26, 2020 announcement, researchers with the Rochester Institute of Technology have received a grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Sea Grant College Program to study “… how microplastics accumulate in the lake’s ecosystem … [The researchers] will examine how microplastics are transported and transformed in the lake, where they ultimately end up and what effects they have on the ecosystem … [They] will use mathematical modeling, field surveys, fluid dynamics, genomic sequencing and other experiments to look at how plastic is impacting the benthic zone and how wildlife and natural processes are transporting and further breaking down plastic … Some of the plastics they plan to study include construction materials such as PVC, clothing fibers like polyester and packaging materials including polyethylene. The ultimate goal is to effectively inform policy, mitigation, prevention initiatives, resource management strategies and technical innovations to combat microplastic pollution …” #Microplastics #PlasticPackaging #PlasticWaste #RIT #LakeOntario

Microplastics – Separation from Aqueous Solutions
– A report published May 20, 2020 in the journal Chemical Science by researchers with the University of Texas at Austin describes a method for focusing, sorting, and separating microplastics – The “… findings demonstrate that multiple local electric field gradients can be generated within a single microfluidic channel by simply placing metal wires at strategic locations. This approach opens a vast range of new possibilities for implementing membrane-free separations …” #Microplastics #UTexas #PlasticWaste

Plastic Waste – Current Efforts are “Ineffective and Misleading”
– According to a March 11, 2020 report issued by EASAC (European Academies’ Science Advisory Council – formed by the national science academies of the EU Member States, Norway and Switzerland)  “… fundamental and systemic reforms are required along the whole value chain, in order to slow and reverse damage to the environment, biodiversity and ultimately risks to human health … European legislators should adopt rules and incentives to speed up the move towards a Circular Plastic Waste Economy …” – The report contains seven recommendations: 1. Ban exports of plastic waste; 2. Adopt a target of zero plastic waste to landfill, minimise consumption and one-way use; 3. Extend producer responsibility; 4. End misleading about bio-based alternatives; 5. Advanced recycling and reprocessing technology; 6. Limiting additives and types of resin to improve recyclability; and 7. Price regulations and quota for recycled content – #Recycling #PlasticWaste #EASAC #SingleUsePlastic #FoodPackaging #PlasticPackaging

Recycling – Annual Report Issued by The Recycling Partnership
– On May 19, 2020, The Recycling Partnership issued its Annual Report noting that “… The U.S. recycling system is the foundation for designing a circular economy where products and packaging are increasingly recirculated … the organization is mission-focused on helping more than 1,500 U.S. communities overcome recycling challenges … The Partnership has delivered new recycling carts to more than 700,000 U.S. households, avoided 251,000 metric tons of carbon emissions, reached more than 77 million households nationwide, and diverted more than 230 million pounds of recyclables from landfills into the recycling stream in the last six years … [Its] strategy for the next 18 months will focus on implementing smarter systems across the value chain, along with continuing to unlock supply of recyclable materials from communities, reducing contamination in local recycling systems, sparking innovation through material collaboratives to make more items commonly recycled, and working with elected leaders to ensure an even playing field for recycling and plans for improved infrastructure …” #Recycling #PlasticWaste

Recycling – Local Programs Affected by Funding Shortfalls
– According to a May 27, 2020 Resource Recycling story  “… In several communities of varying sizes around the country recycling programs are facing cuts due to budget constraints … It’s too early to say how big of a hole COVID-19 will punch in municipal budgets. But communities are already facing tough decisions about how to allocate limited resources, and in some cases, recycling isn’t making the cut … advocacy groups are calling for outside funding to help resolve the shortfalls … The Solid Waste Association of North America (SWANA) … [has] urged Congress to provide funding to cities, towns and villages in future COVID-19 federal assistance packages … Specifically, the organization asked leaders to support legislation that provides $500 billion in federal aid over two years to local governments and gives localities flexibility in how they use the money to address COVID-19 budget impacts …” #Recycling #SingleUsePlastic #PlasticWaste

Polystyrene (PS) – Degradation by Pseudomonas DSM 50071
– According to a May 6, 2020 article in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology  researchers in the Republic of Korea have shown that polystyrene may be degraded by Pseudomonas sp. isolated from the gut of “Superworms” – “… the significance of these findings goes beyond the discovery of a novel function of Pseudomonas sp. DSM 50071 in the gut of superworms, highlighting a potential solution for PS biodegradation …” #Polystyrene #SingleUsePlastic #PlasticWaste