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Stardust_Staubsauger t1_j69dqy5 wrote

Which is not really a good thing because it spills a lot of toxins in the breakdown process.


giuliomagnifico OP t1_j69fals wrote

>Potentially, there may be good news in this research, says Niemann. "In part, the plastic breaks down into substances that can be completely broken down by bacteria. But for another part, the plastic remains in the water as invisible nanoparticles."


> We need to continue investigating the fate of the remaining plastic. Also, we need to investigate what all this micro and nano plastic does to marine life. Even more important”, Niemann stresses, “is to stop plastic littering all together, as this thickens the ocean’s plastic soup.


Stardust_Staubsauger t1_j69jo8a wrote

>UV irradiation enhanced the plastics' toxicity, even for samples initially evaluated as toxicologically inconspicuous. The plastic samples caused oxidative stress (85%), baseline toxicity (42%), antiestrogenicity (40%) and antiandrogenicity (27%)

The remaining microplastics are an additional problem.


3meow_ t1_j69sx75 wrote

So, microplastics is what leads us to the children of men arc


Stardust_Staubsauger t1_j6a09la wrote

Jokes aside: Yes.
Sperm counts had declined by 52.4 percent between 1973 and 2011.


3meow_ t1_j6a0zf1 wrote

Oh boy... Thanks for the link


Sparkybear t1_j6apvr1 wrote

Except that was attributed to diet and exercise, not to plastics.


Stardust_Staubsauger t1_j6as8vm wrote

>Proposed explanations include lifestyle factors (such as diet) and environmental endocrine disruptors, such as those found in plastics


djdefekt t1_j6asp2o wrote

If only our diet weren't full of plastics so we could have a control...


FriedRiceAndMath t1_j6g4g96 wrote

We eat the things that eat the plastics.

Kinda like, I want my pizza toppings to have eaten other pizza toppings.


giuliomagnifico OP t1_j69l0r3 wrote

The better is obviously not produce plastic.


-Ch4s3- t1_j69n5ch wrote

Plastics are irreplaceable in plumbing, medicine, weather proofing in construction, many durable consumer goods, automobile crumple zones, storage for dangerous industrial chemicals, and on and on. We need to dispose of plastics better, not try to blanket ban them.


tdaddybxl t1_j69p3q4 wrote

True, but we can and should ban most single use plastics.


-Ch4s3- t1_j69qg55 wrote

That rolls up medical plastics, chemical spray bottles, aluminum can liners, bandages, cling wrap, straws the people with mobility issues need, and so on. Plastic is basically a CO2 sink if it’s buried, may as well just do that.


GruntBlender t1_j69r20y wrote

Safest way to dispose of it is incineration tho. Anything else will leech microplastics and plasticisers into the environment.


pzerr t1_j6a2n4k wrote

Which turns it into complete C02.


TrueRepose t1_j6bhhwp wrote

Which can then be transformed into carbon and breathable air :)


mxemec t1_j6igzon wrote

At least pyrolysis techniques can convert it into fuel beforehand.


-Ch4s3- t1_j6a3yq7 wrote

Garbage disposal uses lined and heavily monitored sites. It’s a solved problem.


mynextthroway t1_j6dgvr7 wrote

I wouldn't say plastic is a CO2 sink. Being a sink makes it sound like CO2 was pulled from the air to make the plastic, and then it was buried. Burying plastic just keeps it from causing a lot of trouble that burning it or dumping in the ocean causes.


-Ch4s3- t1_j6dyi5c wrote

Well weathering of plastic will release some CO2.

What I mean really is that plastic is made from a waste product and very little CO2 is emitted in its production. It displaces more carbon intensive material use, and when its buried any carbon it contains is sequestered. It’s a great material that way if properly disposed of.


mynextthroway t1_j6e2q0p wrote

Properly disposed is the key, but recycling is not the amazing solution plastic/oil companies made it out to be. Do you want to see a waste of plastic? Look at dollar stores, the seasonal section of Target, Wal-mart, etc. Nearly all of it is useless or unneeded. Single use plastic going to countries that can't/wont handle the waste properly is a problem for oceanic plastic.


-Ch4s3- t1_j6e3tkj wrote

I believe I’ve been saying it should be buried. Moreover SE Asian countries aren’t really buying US and European plastic recycling materials anymore so a lot of it is actually getting landfilled again. Insofar as it all goes in a big hole in the ground it hardly matters.

Making sure it doesn’t end up in waterways seems like the correct focus to me. I don’t really have a lot interest in trying to police people’s preferences. Just handle the waste stream correctly and clamp down on littering.


gimme_alt_girls t1_j6acuvq wrote

Yeah no. Micro plastics shed off into everything. Congrats, you just enriched the soil


-Ch4s3- t1_j6add1c wrote

They actually don’t shed off of everything, specially harder plastics.


Protean_Protein t1_j69t7if wrote

One exception might be those that are used on some fresh fruits and vegetables. Like, thin-film sealed plastic can make a cucumber last far longer than without it. But obviously we should also be trying to figure out how to deal with that kind of plastic waste in better ways too.


coffeesub206 t1_j69xtfj wrote

These plastics can be made recyclable, so the issue is really how much plastic isnt recyclable and is ending up in the ocean


Protean_Protein t1_j69zmoe wrote

In the Pacific, it’s mostly Asian (Chinese, Indian, Japanese) fishing gear.


coffeesub206 t1_j69zsvu wrote

You were specifically talking about thin-film plastics in your comment. Not fishing gear.


mynextthroway t1_j6dirge wrote

Plastic is technically recyclable, but practically, it's not. Food and medical plastic can not use recycled plastic ( recycled plastic is not sterile). That's a huge part of the plastic market. There are a lot of different plastics in the market. Mixing the types of plastic makes it unrecyclable. Colored plastic of the same type can not be mixed. Most of this can be solved with manual sorting, but that is labor intensive (expensive), and the end goal is not to recycle the plastic waste stream, but to cherry pick the stream as it feeds into the incinerator.


Partykongen t1_j69ok4m wrote

Exactly. It's a safe material with a long life, possibly good surface finish and easily manufacturable into even complex shapes at a low energy cost. In many uses, it is invaluable as the alternatives either don't perform the same function as well or is just too energy intensive to manufacture and transport about.


-Ch4s3- t1_j69ot84 wrote

Mostly if we could go after fishing waste and clean up the major rivers in South East Asia, there wouldn’t be a plastic problem in the Pacific.


Stardust_Staubsauger t1_j69wzvj wrote

Thats only partly true. The US waste water plans pollute huge amounts of microplastics because they don't implement effective filter systems. The Source of the microplastics are cosmetics and personal care products. Complaining about other continents is easy but maybe put your own house in order first .


-Ch4s3- t1_j6a3090 wrote

But that’s a minuscule fraction, as far as I’m aware from reading about the topic.


Fairuse t1_j69q68b wrote

Are you willing to pay the price for the clean up? Most of the waste generate is behalf of your consumption.


-Ch4s3- t1_j69qxmn wrote

None of that waste really comes from the US since China stopped buying American recycling. There’s a lot of single use plastics used in SE Asia, and they lack the disposal infrastructure we enjoy in developed economies.


m_bleep_bloop t1_j69tyem wrote

Except that reuse infrastructure is mostly fraudulent, and generally involves exports to…Southeast Asia

That’s US waste that’s causing the problem


-Ch4s3- t1_j6a3hr2 wrote

Those countries don’t really buy US plastic waste anymore.


Glittering_Airport_3 t1_j69wopc wrote

a lot of the problem is plastic packaging and wasted fishing materials. there is a always going to be a place for plastic, but a lot of the waste can easily be replaced by renewable/ biodegradable products


-Ch4s3- t1_j6a3etr wrote

As long as the CO2 numbers aren’t worse(they often are) and they hold up for purpose then fine. But there’s nothing wrong with burying plastic.


Uptown-Dog t1_j69tbzt wrote

>Plastics are irreplaceable in plumbing, medicine, weather proofing in construction, many durable consumer goods, automobile crumple zones, storage for dangerous industrial chemicals, and on and on. We need to dispose of plastics better, not try to blanket ban them.

Just because we don't have a valid replacement for plastic in these use-uses doesn't mean that one doesn't exist: we should be striving and looking for them. And if we need to adjust our behaviors as part of that process, so be it. But in general, we don't even try; Big Oil relies on our addiction to plastic in a big way, and we should absolutely keep getting rid of it in our gunsights.


-Ch4s3- t1_j6a3uac wrote

“Big oil” exists because we need energy. Plastic is just a neat way to use the trash that would otherwise be discarded. Burying plastic trash is carbon neutral, and it came out of the ground anyway.


SecretNature t1_j6a4ggj wrote

Which plumbing parts can only be made with plastic? We had plumbing long before plastic.


-Ch4s3- t1_j6adsuz wrote

Sure but copper and lead pipes are inferior to pex in basically every way. PVC is also great for a lot of non residential cases. Steel production is laughably more CO2 intensive.

Plastic provides cleaner, safer water with fewer leaks and lower emissions. It also isn’t worth stealing like copper pipes and doesn’t have to be joined in a process that’s highly toxic.


Splurch t1_j6aqaaw wrote

> Sure but copper and lead pipes are inferior to pex in basically every way. PVC is also great for a lot of non residential cases. Steel production is laughably more CO2 intensive. > > Plastic provides cleaner, safer water with fewer leaks and lower emissions. It also isn’t worth stealing like copper pipes and doesn’t have to be joined in a process that’s highly toxic.

Those things don't make them irreplaceable, it just means the replacements, or existing solutions before plastic, cost more. Just because it's irreplaceable in some use cases doesn't mean it's irreplaceable in all of them.


sennbat t1_j6ag3kf wrote

What a strange usage of the word irreplaceable


-Ch4s3- t1_j6ahk7y wrote

Yeah non-substitutable is probably a better voice to convey what imprecisely meant.


gsupanther t1_j69oae5 wrote

The problem is that it’s anaerobic bacteria that need to breakdown subsurface plastic. While there are bacteria capable of doing this (did my PhD on this subject), the process takes a significant amount more time when there’s no oxygen to oxidise the stable pi bonds found in polycyclic aromatics that make up a lot of the plastic.


_Projects t1_j6anial wrote

We're just going to turn the ocean into lifeless plastic soup aren't we?


RigbyRoadIce t1_j6apuvi wrote


I don't think you're lying but whenever I hear "toxins" I get suspicious.


Stardust_Staubsauger t1_j6atyxt wrote

A single plastic product can leach up to 8700 different substances into the water. It totally depends on the materials in particular. Known toxins include bisphenol A (BPA) and PS oligomer, styrene monomer (SM), styrene dimer (SD) and styrene trimer (ST). Styrene is a suspected human carcinogen. Not all substances are yet even catalogarised. But its total toxicity is well known.


CompromisedCEO t1_j69fg9g wrote

Nah, they just end up on the ocean floor or in your blood stream.


verstohlen t1_j69il6d wrote

Mercury and plastics in fish, and the Fukishima incident, Japan dumping radioactive water into the ocean have me questioning my decision to eat a tuna sandwich for lunch.


zypofaeser t1_j6bdbbm wrote

Less than what's already in the ocean in terms of radioactivity.


Partykongen t1_j69oru3 wrote

It will be so diluted that it's not an issue for you.


GruntBlender t1_j69r78t wrote

They float, so they don't settle onto the floor. That's why they're so much worse than sand.


Lostmyfnusername t1_j69tcb4 wrote

"roughly 70% of the plastic that ends up in the ocean sinks to the ocean floor."


Hot-Specialist-6824 t1_j69dzbs wrote

Disappear from the surface is the key phrase. Most of it's still there, just in micro particles which still get eaten by sea life, still enter the food chain, still poison and kill.


Taxoro t1_j69j2ao wrote

>Floating microplastic is broken down into ever smaller, invisible nanoplastic particles that spread across the entire water column, but also to compounds that can then be completely broken down by bacteria.


tjcanno t1_j69elm9 wrote

Please cite scientific studies that back those claims up. Not just arm waving scaremongering.


scaleofthought t1_j69iivp wrote

... do you really need a 55 page scientific study that you'll never read to logically explain that UV light doesn't make plastic magically vanish?

Or uh.... Can we just assume within reason that plastic just doesn't disappear because the weather was good, and rather UV light makes plastic brittle, causing it to break down into micro plastics?


tjcanno t1_j6a5e36 wrote

You totally misinterpret my question. Do you have any studies to show that when the polymer breaks down in UV that the products are poisonous?

I am not questioning that UV breaks down the polymer. I have seen it firsthand.


DaDutchBoyLT1 t1_j69ir68 wrote

A basic understanding of material science.


tjcanno t1_j6a4x8f wrote

As the polymers decompose in the UV, they break down to pieces as small as monomers. Do bacteria consume them? Naturally occurring microbes break down hydrocarbons in the ocean. It is reasonable to expect that something similar happens with polymers and monomers. So can anyone point to any research on that? Why is it assumed that the products of the UV degradation are poisonous?


atetuna t1_j6a32xh wrote

What's the point when you already ignore the scientific studies that support climate change?


tjcanno t1_j6a54n4 wrote

Not true. And what does UV degradation of polymers have to do with climate change?


kaybee915 t1_j69fi2d wrote

They disappear? Did big plastic pay for this science?


resumethrowaway222 t1_j69hqeq wrote

We gotta break down that ozone layer to clear the plastic out of our oceans faster!


FriedRiceAndMath t1_j6g4zn5 wrote

Hoist the plastic nanoparticles into the atmosphere to restock the ozone layer. It’ll be like sunglasses for the earth.


hedgerow_hank t1_j69yg63 wrote

It doesn't "disappear" - it degrades into smaller and smaller bits of plastic.

Has anyone mentioned our newest body augmentation - micro plastics?


mathaiser t1_j6a40ab wrote


Because now it’s micro. And it’s in our placentas and all the other places on our planet.


bmwlocoAirCooled t1_j6a9wf8 wrote

Science will tell you nothing disappears, it just breaks down the plastic to smaller bits, that get into fish, that get into humans and it all goes round and round.


Gnostromo t1_j6amzua wrote

If anyone has ever owned a tarp or plastic pool furniture they know this to be true.

The sun will destroy


tcrex2525 t1_j6axra7 wrote

This headline is very misleading. It does not “disappear” it settles to the ocean floor when it is more likely to enter the food chain.


hatesbiology84 t1_j6bmdu1 wrote

Basically, we are dissolving plastic into our oceans.


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EvenBetterCool t1_j69lfs8 wrote

I hope this is more inspiration to try plastic breakdown BEFORE it sits in the ocean long enough to break down. This is exactly the kind of half information that would inspire climate change deniers to say "See it'll take care of itself."


FriedRiceAndMath t1_j6g5gpd wrote

Climate is playing a long game. Make the habitat unsuitable for humans while filling the remaining humans with microplastics, reducing the future rate of human (and consequently, plastic) production.


NSNick t1_j69n5go wrote

Some future civilization is going to be mining these plastics that deposited before bacteria evolved to break it down just like what we're doing with fossil fuels, aren't they?


marauderingman t1_j6accc3 wrote

Does this mean we can use UV light to break down plastics in, say, an industrial capacity, and maybe do something useful with the byproducts?


joepalms t1_j6adni8 wrote

Out of sight, soon in our bodies forever…


FriedRiceAndMath t1_j6g5ms1 wrote

We will just implant tiny UV lights to break down our internal plastics.


6417725 t1_j6aelsl wrote

And yet considering this micro plastics have been found in fish and at some of the craziest depths of our oceans, this isn’t good news this is startling compounded with everything else


Smallios t1_j6af5uq wrote

Sure, it breaks down into small enough particles that we end up ingesting it. Yaaaaaay…


saintjimmy43 t1_j6aikcc wrote

Plastic polluter: "see? It fixes itself!"


nomad_nessie t1_j6aqg5y wrote

This seems like a discovery you keep to yourself. Oh I’ve discovered the pollution is not as big a deal as we previously thought! But if I tell people they may stop trying to clean/conserve the oceans.


soylamulatta t1_j6aqwac wrote

Well, I guess there's nothing to worry about then. Let's keep dumping tons of plastic into the ocean.


djdefekt t1_j6asih8 wrote

When they say "disappear from" they mean release plasticisers and micro-plastic into the eco system?


FNKTN t1_j6bu0w4 wrote

Wow a whole 2%. Alright boys, you heard em, dump twice as much.


Bebilith t1_j6c1f8z wrote

More breaks up than breaks down.

Micro plastic everywhere and in everything.


imontiza t1_j6cgnqq wrote

Walk on any beach, and you'll see this in action.


IceFire2050 t1_j6des9v wrote

hooray. the big visible plastics break down in to small microplastics and a soup of toxic chemicals instead. That's much better for the ocean.


Kaje26 t1_j6e3dpm wrote

So it will be 50 years before the current level of plastic now is gone and by that time it will be more than replaced by more plastic.


WestOn27th t1_j6ezod8 wrote

Two percent?! Cmon sun, be better!


iperus0351 t1_j69oxu7 wrote

I propose using floropolymer bladders with a large alkaline salt solution to draw micro plastic into the bladder. We toss them in the ocean and allow the plastic to diffuse through the bladder wall becoming entrapped as lignin structures. Once they are concentrated enough to harvest we pull out the bladder and treat the contents.

I think it is the only way to leach out the plastic. Logistically it’s like using tampons to clean a area the size of Texas (pacific garbage patch). I don’t see another way to treat the mess we have already made.

Step one is treating the plastic we have before it gets to the sea


Vortex112 t1_j69uu2j wrote

How are single use plastics still legal? We’re committing mass poisoning to ourselves just for 25¢ cheaper takeout


SusDroid t1_j6i2g5e wrote

I’m with you on the take out, but not when it comes to infusion day.