Uplifting Story #2 Stories 3, 4 & 5
Surf, twins and a revolutionary plastic
Identical twins, Jeff and Dane Anderson live in California. Passionate about body surfing, they’d dash to the beach every day before sunrise to catch the waves—and increasing volumes of plastic. One day, they said it was enough. They needed to find a solution.
They enrolled in waste management classes and discovered there were two major waste problems. The first is plastic made from fossil fuel.
Sink or float
The New Plastics Economy is a conglomerate of more than 1,000 organisations united behind the vision to create a circular economy for plastic. It includes collaborators such as Unilever, Coca Cola and Nestles, all massive producers of plastic for consumable use.
It cites a statistic that only 14 per cent of plastic is collected and of that only 2 per cent is recycled.
Eight million tons of plastic enter the oceans each year. The three best-known ocean clean up organisations remove just 0.5 percent of this plastic. Let that sink in or float in your minds for a while.
Hardly uplifting, but to find the stories, we have to understand the extent of the problem first. With that in mind, let’s look next at the issues caused by food waste.
Not easy to digest
The second major source of landfill is food waste, which occurs during production, processing, retailing and consumption. The waste amounts to between a third and one half of all food produced.
What a devastating statistic given the degradation of forests and soil, and use of inorganic fertilizers involved in producing food— not withstanding hunger as a major issue for a large proportion of humanity.
The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimates the direct cost to producers of food that goes to waste is currently $750 billion annually, a figure that excludes wasted fish and seafood.
A report, Food Wastage Footprint: Impacts on Natural Resources, commissioned by the BIO-Intelligence service in France, states that, ‘without accounting for greenhouse gas emissions from land use change, the carbon footprint of food produced and not eaten is estimated at 3.3 Gigatons [billion tons] of CO2 equivalent. It goes on to claim that as such food wastage ranks as the third top emitter after the USA and China, citing another statistic that uneaten food occupies almost 1.4 billion hectares of land representing close to 30 percent of the world’s agricultural land area.
Not data that is easy to digest, indeed, if you dwell on it, it’s likely to give you chronic heartburn. So, where’s the uplift in any of this?
Fish’ll eat it
Back to Jeff and Dane. During their study they set out to solve both problems, plastic and food waste and invented a biodegradable plastic from organic waste by mimicking traditional composting with modified bacteria. This plastic is safe for fish to eat.
The Andersons know that their plastic alternative for single use plastic now being manufactured by their company, Full Cycle Bioplastics, will only be viable it if it cheap. With an abundance of free food waste at their disposal they believe that soon their technology will change the fact that currently bio-plastics only constitutes two percent of plastics worldwide.
Given the indigestion so much of our marine life is suffering, we must believe in too and get behind such initiatives.
If you have superannuation, can you ask if the funds are investing in innovations like this?