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Dead whale found in Thailand with 17 pounds of plastic in its stomach – NBC News

Article by NBC News
The whale spit out five plastic bags on Friday and later died, officials said. 

 / Source: Reuters

Image: Volunteers and government marine veterinarians from Department of Marine and Coastal Resources rescuing a sick male pilot whale at sea in the coastal area of southern Thailand near the Malaysian border, May 28, 2018.

Volunteers and marine veterinarians from Department of Marine and Coastal Resources attempted to rescue a sick male pilot whale in the coastal area of southern Thailand near the Malaysian border, May 28, 2018. ThaiWhales / AFP – Getty Images

BANGKOK — Some 80 pieces of plastic rubbish weighing 17 pounds were found in the stomach of a whale that died in Thailand after a five-day effort to save it, a marine official said on Sunday.

The pilot whale was discovered on Monday in a canal in the southern province of Songkhla and received treatment from a team of veterinarians.

The whale spit out five plastic bags on Friday and later died, the Marine and Coastal Resources Department said on its website.

An autopsy found another 80 bags and other plastic items weighing more than 17 pounds (8 kg) in the whale’s stomach.

Image: A government marine veterinarian is being helped by volunteers to remove plastics from the stomach of dead male pilot whale at the Marine and Coastal Resource Research and Development Center in Songkla province, Thailand, June 1, 2018.
A government marine veterinarian is being helped by volunteers to remove plastics from the stomach of dead male pilot whale at the Marine and Coastal Resource Research and Development Center in Songkla province, Thailand, June 1, 2018.ThaiWhales / AFP – Getty Images

“This plastic rubbish made the whale sick and unable to hunt for food,” the department said.

Jatuporn Buruspat, head of the department, said the whale probably thought the floating plastic bags were food.

Pilot whales mainly feed on squid, but are known to eat octopus and small fish when squid are not available, according to the American Cetacean Society, a whale conservation group.

Jatuporn said his department planned to raise public awareness of the problem on World Oceans Day on June 8.

“We will use the whale case and invite all sectors to show their intentions on how to reduce the use of plastic in Thailand,” he told Reuters.

Image: Thai Marine Biologist officials rescue an ailing and immobile short-finned pilot whale at a canal in Songkhla province, southern Thailand, May 30, 2018.
Thai Marine Biologist officials rescue an ailing and immobile short-finned pilot whale at a canal in Songkhla province, southern Thailand, May 30, 2018. EPA

Thais use huge numbers of plastic bags but authorities have launched campaigns to try to encourage people to use fewer and to introduce reusable bags.

Globally, eight million tons of plastic — bottles, packaging and other waste — are dumped into the ocean every year, killing marine life and entering the human food chain, the United Nations Environment Programme said in December.

Why We’re Giving Up the Plastic Wrapper Around Our Magazine – National Geographic

National Geographic is launching a multiyear ‘Planet or Plastic?’ campaign to encourage consumers to reduce single-use plastics.

BY SUSAN GOLDBERG, EDITOR IN CHIEF

This story is part of Planet or Plastic?—our multiyear effort to raise awareness about the global plastic waste crisis. Learn what you can do to reduce your own single-use plastics, and take your pledge.

Read this story and more in the June 2018 issue of National Geographic magazine.

It’s hard to get your head around the story of plastic. The facts and figures are so staggering as to seem almost fantastical.

Can it really be true that half the plastic ever made was produced in the past 15 years? That a trillion plastic bags are used worldwide each year, with an average “working life” of just 15 minutes? That some nine million tons of plastic waste go into the oceans every year? And that estimates for how long plastic endures range from 450 years to forever?

The answer, unfortunately, is yes— those grim facts, and more, are all true. That’s why we asked writer Laura Parker and photographer Randy Olson to put this global crisis in perspective, in coverage published across our digital platforms and in our June print edition.

The good news is, this crisis can be mitigated. And all of us in this organization—from the National Geographic Society to the broadcast and publishing divisions of National Geographic Partners—want to do our part. With this issue, we’re kicking off a multiyear campaign aimed at educating consumers on the crisis and how they can help reverse the blight of single-use plastic in Earth’s oceans and waterways.

And that’s why, if you’re a subscriber in the U.S., U.K., or India, this month’s issue arrived in a paper rather than plastic wrapper. This change alone will save more than 2.5 million single-use plastic bags every month. We’ve also challenged all our international partners—who publish 36 local-language editions of National Geographic around the globe—to get rid of plastic wrappers by the end of 2019.

That’s just a first step. Because we’re committed to having an impact on this crisis, we’re launching a global campaign. Under the campaign banner of Planet or Plastic? we’ll deploy content across all our platforms to raise awareness and encourage consumers to act.

To build support for the Planet or Plastic? campaign, National Geographic is asking people around the world to pledge to reduce their reliance on single-use plastic. Those who take the pledge will become part of a new global community working to stem the tide of plastics polluting the ocean.

With the launch of the campaign and our June issue, National Geographic has also joined entertainment company Sky Media in supporting Sky Ocean Ventures, an initiative to invest in businesses that can help solve the ocean plastic crisis. National Geographic will contribute scientific expertise, grant and media muscle, and $10 million to help Sky Ocean Ventures identify and champion promising projects and technologies.

We’ll also join forces with like-minded corporations, nongovernmental organizations, and other institutions, in efforts to eliminate single-use plastic and promote recyclability, and we’ll support the National Geographic Society’s network of scientists, innovators, and explorers who are tackling this challenge worldwide. For example, the North Face already is busy reclaiming waste plastic. The outdoor product company is partnering with National Geographic to introduce a limited Bottle Source Collection, featuring shirts made from recycled plastic bottles diverted from National Park waste streams. Look for them in our online shop and at the North Face stores starting May 23.

And reusable water bottle company S’well—which was founded to reduce the use of plastic bottles—will produce a special line of its insulated, stainless steel bottles co-branded with National Geographic, available in our online shop in June.

“Some people deny climate change, but there are no ocean plastic deniers. The problem’s in plain sight.”

And as always, we are proud to collaborate with our colleagues at the nonprofit Society. Starting with an initial expedition in 2019, scientists and explorers will study the type and flow of plastic in a river system to better document how plastic travels from source to sea. Their data gathering and observations will provide us all with fact-based, actionable information to guide our efforts.

With Planet or Plastic? we hope to do nothing less than transform consumer behavior—and we’re starting at home. We’ve hired an environmental consulting firm to conduct an internal audit at our headquarters in Washington, D.C., to assess how our own operations and supply chain use plastic.

After all, it’s the negligent use of plastic that’s gotten us in trouble, not the material itself. As Laura Parker writes in our June cover story, plastics have been a boon to humanity. They helped the Allies win World War II, “eased travel into space, and revolutionized medicine… In airbags, incubators, helmets, or simply by delivering clean drinking water to poor people in those now demonized disposable bottles, plastics save lives daily.”

And yet, as Randy Olson’s jaw-dropping photos show, we have created a plastic apocalypse. Developed nations off-load waste from our convenient lifestyle and foist the cleanup on some of the planet’s most vulnerable people. Our Planet or Plastic? campaign is a call to take responsibility for the messes we’ve already made, and act to prevent more.

Will eliminating a plastic magazine wrapper save the planet? Well, no. But it’s an example of the kind of relatively easy action that every company, every government, and every person can take. And when you put it together, that adds up to real change.

EU warms up to plastic waste ‘recycling’ as transport fuel – Euractiv

Environmental groups claim so-called “Plastic-to-fuels” distort the concept of renewable energy, and is “inconsistent with EU circular economy and climate policies”. [John Jones / Toolstotal]

A proposal to use non-recyclable plastic waste in the production of transport fuels is picking momentum among EU member states and legislators in the European Parliament, despite warnings from environmentalists.

Old plastic materials that cannot be recycled because they contain too much “impurities” could find a final incarnation in car’s combustion engines, campaigners have said, warning of “a dangerous precedent”.

“It’s very controversial as it could create a precedent for including fossil-based fuels in the renewables and climate policy,” said Janek Vahk, a campaigner at Zero Waste Europe, an environmental campaign group.

“Moreover, it could undermine countries efforts to address the issue of plastic recyclability,” Vahk said.

Waste-based fossil fuels

In its proposal for a revised renewable energy directive, the European Commission listed “waste-based fossil-fuels” among the non-recyclable waste that can be converted into energy, such as renewable electricity or transport fuels.

“‘Waste-based fossil fuels’ means liquid and gaseous fuels produced from waste streams of non-renewable origin, including waste processing gases and exhaust gases,” the Commission said in its original proposal.

An amendment introduced by the European Parliament in a subsequent plenary vote in Januaryfurther fleshed out the proposal by adding waste “produced from solid waste streams” to the definition – in other words, plastics.

The idea is now picking up steam in the EU Council of Ministers, with four member states – the UK, Finland, the Netherlands and the Czech Republic – backing the plan. It gained further momentum after China’s decision to ban all imports of plastics and other recycled waste from Europe and other countries.

But environmental groups are worried and have written to EU legislators saying they were “deeply concerned” about the inclusion of plastics within the definition of renewable fuels.

“We believe that this inclusion is a harmful distortion of the concept of renewable energy, and inconsistent with EU circular economy and climate policies,” reads a letter written by a coalition of environmental groups, sent to EU legislators on 2 May.

“Fuel production from non-renewable solid waste such as plastics is equivalent to the use of fossil sources, and therefore the opposite of renewable energy,” the coalition said.

Extra safeguards considered

Ambassadors from the 28 EU countries are meeting on Tuesday (8 May) to discuss the amended renewable energy directive.

But some members of Parliament are now having second thoughts. “They realise now that this approach could pose some problems and are looking for some safeguards,” Vahk said.

Bart Martens, an aide to Belgian MEP Kathleen Van Brempt, who helped draft the amendment voted on in plenary, said the introduction of waste-based fossil fuels in the renewables directive was always part of the plan.

“The only thing that Parliament did was adding extra safeguards to ensure this respects the waste hierarchy” and prevents unrecyclable plastic waste ending up in incinerators, Martens told EURACTIV, reminding that the compromise amendment was approved by a large majority of political groups in Parliament.

“The idea was to prevent incineration,” the aide explained, saying “a lot of CO2 emissions” can be avoided if non-recyclable plastic waste can be used as transport fuel. “The CO2 savings are potentially very large. The carbon life cycle shows it’s positive for the environment.”

“Of course, it’s up to the negotiators to find a middle ground to ascertain that the waste hierarchy is respected,” Martens added, saying legislators could decide to “rephrase” the definition if necessary.

Martens also insisted that “recycled carbon fuels” will not be counted as renewable energy under the revised EU directive. “They are only included in the blending obligation as an extra way to decarbonise the transport sector” – in particular aviation or shipping, where electrification is more difficult, he told EURACTIV.

A preferable option would have been to include “recycled carbon fuels” under the Fuel Quality Directive, but no revision was foreseen there, Martens further explained. So EU legislators “opted for a more pragmatic approach” by including them under the revised renewable energy directive.

Link here to full article on the Euractiv

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