Plastic pollution solutions
Mar 31 2023
The UK’s coasts have been suffering from plastic pollution, with approximately 170 trillion plastic particles afloat in the oceans, according to scientists from the 5 Gyres Institute. The pollution poses a threat to wildlife and endangers public health, and its impacts can reduce property values and limit economic growth in a community. It is essential to work together to tackle this problem, with the government, public, charities and businesses all playing a vital role.
The British public has been taking action by volunteering for clean-up sessions. During the 2021 Great British Beach Clean, 6,176 volunteers found an average of 112 plastic or polystyrene pieces per 100 meters of beach, with 75% of all litter collected being plastic or polystyrene. Single-use plastic remains a significant source of pollution, and it is crucial to continue focusing on reducing its use. However, it is also necessary to hold companies accountable for producing unsustainable materials. In August 2022, Surfers against Sewage projected the 12 companies producing 70% of branded packaging found during its Million Mile Clean on the White Cliffs of Dover, including Coca-Cola, McDonald's, Nestlé, and Carlsberg Group. These companies have been labeled the Dirty Dozen, and it is argued that they are not living up to their sustainability pledges.
Clean-ups are futile unless businesses start manufacturing with recycled materials and viable, non-damaging alternatives become readily available. Companies that influence pollution need to prove that they are actively pursuing new, sustainable solutions. For example, corporate financiers can use their background to help deploy early-stage funding for developing truly biodegradable biopolymers. This is how Teysha Technologies found its feet.
Innovative solutions are needed to reduce plastic pollution on our beaches. Traditional wooden surfboards have been making a comeback as they are more sustainable than their foam or epoxy alternatives. They carry more momentum and deal with surface chop better, improving user experience, as well as being sustainable.
Another alternative to traditional petrochemical plastics is AggiePol®, a novel bioplastic developed by Teysha Technologies. Since AggiePol® doesn’t contain petrochemicals, it doesn’t rely on finite fossil fuels. Instead, it’s made from natural feedstocks like agricultural waste that is high in supply. In July 2022, AggiePol® was issued a certificate of biodegradability following successful OECD310 testing, making it a sustainable alternative to traditional petrochemical plastics. AggiePol®’s tunability options mean that it can be tailored to undergo slow or rapid biodegradation in a natural environment, depending on its intended application. Unlike other bioplastics, it does not require resource-intensive catalysts to degrade, making it suitable for industries that rely on single-use plastics like food and beverage or packaging.
Reducing beach pollution is a momentous task that requires effort from the public, businesses, and government. As an island nation, it is our duty to look after the ocean if we hope to look after our own health and well-being. Developing innovative materials to replace single-use plastic is one of the ways that we have been taking action to tackle plastic pollution. However, it is also essential to hold companies accountable and to work together to create a more sustainable future.
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