Oceans of plastic

THE INEFFECTIVE MANAGEMENT OF PLASTIC WASTE

You may first want to read How we filled the oceans with plastic in just over 60 years for some context about plastic waste.


The standard for the rational management of plastics and other materials through their life cycle is the concept of waste hierarchy. Loosely implemented by Western countries over the past forty years, it has led to more or less sustainable outcomes in Europe and the United States.

Lansink Ladder (1979)

B, C and D are waste recovery operations. According to the European Court of Justice, the “principal objective [of waste recovery] is that the waste serve a useful purpose in replacing other materials which would have had to be used for that purpose, thereby conserving natural resources” (Abfall Service AG, C-6/00, 2002, known as the “ASA” case). This is also the definition of the 2008 Waste Framework directive (see below). Source: www.recycling.com

The waste hierarchy concept was first formulated in Europe by the 1975 Waste Framework Directive (75/442/EEC), which encouraged the “reduction of quantities of certain wastes, the treatment of waste for its recycling and re-use, the recovery of raw materials and/or the production of energy from certain waste”. Refined by The Netherlands in 1979, the waste hierarchy became known as the Lansink Ladder, which ranked waste management options from the most to the least desirable for the environment.

Today, the sustainable logic that inspired the waste hierarchy and Lansink Ladder makes sense from an environmental and resource-efficiency perspective. Continue reading

Oceans of Plastic

HOW WE FILLED THE OCEANS WITH PLASTIC IN JUST OVER 60 YEARS

“Man-made items of debris are now found in marine habitats throughout the world, from the poles to the equator, from shorelines and estuaries to remote areas of the high seas, and from the sea surface to the ocean floor.”

Impacts of Marine Debris on Biodiversity, UNEP Report, 2012

Seabirds lead a precarious existence. Their marine habitats worldwide are littered with so much plastic waste that they often mistake plastic for food. Scientists recently estimated that by now 90% of all individual seabirds have ingested plastic debris, compared to only 5% in 1960Continue reading

A bow to the hard-working parents

By now, many breeding birds in Germany have seen their first clutch of the season fledge and grow to weaning age, a moment not all chicks are looking forward to. The many great tits born around my block from at least three different clutches are unwilling to embrace independence and claim it conspicuously. Parents can be seen escaping swarms of hungry juveniles, now master of flight, loudly and relentlessly gaping for food.

The young already know how to pick up food on their own but prefer it served on a plate beak, so much that they sometimes beg great tits other than their parents and even blue tits!

Parents are now cutting loose Continue reading

Return of the mystery bird

This post is related to: Guest of Honor (additional hawfinch photos)


Despite ranging extensively across Eurasia and north Africa and current population estimates reaching up to 5 millions for Europe alone, hawfinches (Coccothraustes coccothraustes) are commonly known to be shy, elusive and unobtrusive birds—they are sometimes called “mystery birds” for that reason. None of these qualities seem to apply to Continue reading

Embryo & shell

This common wood pigeon (Columba palumbus) and sibling did not make it past their embryo stage of development. The broken eggs were found this morning shortly after falling from the nest.

Eurasian jays may be to blame: these large birds are particularly active and efficient predators in the area. It is common to Continue reading