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Wax worm caterpillar will eat plastic shopping bags: New solution t...

Posted: 24 Apr 2017 11:13 AM PDT

Generally speaking, plastic is incredibly resistant to breaking down. That's certainly true of the trillion polyethylene plastic bags that people use each and every year. But researchers may be on track to find a solution to plastic waste. The key is a caterpillar commonly known as a wax worm.

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Interesting article Mrs.B. The wax worm as well as plastic eating bacteria is great news, but I think we've already shot our bolt when it comes to plastic pollution in our oceans. Plastic is already showing up in the marine food chain.

Silent Killers: The Danger of Plastic Bags to Marine Life

"Paper or plastic?" was once the inquiry of bag-boys in supermarkets around the country. But a growing conscience concerning the frivolous abuse of single-use plastic grocery bags has finally taken hold in the U.S. Around the world, from Australia to Ireland, communities have been enacting bag bans for almost a decade.

The first plastic sandwich bags were introduced in 1957. Department stores and supermarket chains started using plastic shopping bags in the late 1970s. The recycling of plastic bags began in 1990, but by 1996 four out of five grocery bags in the U.S. were thin, single-use, polyethylene bags. More than 1 billion single-use plastic bags are given out free of charge everyday. In 2009 the U.S. International Trade Commission reported that 102 billion plastic bags were used in the U.S.

Plastic bags never biodegrade, but they do breakdown. As they do so, any toxic additives they contain—including flame retardants, antimicrobials and plasticizers—will be released into the environment. Many of these chemicals may disrupt the endocrine system—the delicately balanced set of hormones and glands that affect virtually every organ and cell in the bodies of humans and animals.

Plastic bags are especially harmful to marine animals, and are one of the most common garbage items on California’s beaches according to the Los Angeles Times. Most starts out as litter on beaches, streets and sidewalks. Stormwater runoff and overwatering flushes them through storm drains or directly to creeks, streams and rivers that lead to the ocean.

In marine environments, many animals confuse the plastic littering the oceans for food, including sea turtles. One in three leatherback sea turtles have plastic in their stomach, most often a plastic bag, based on a study of over 370 autopsies. Once in these animals bodies the plastic bioaccumulates, and the chemicals can cause excess estrogen to be produced, which has led to discoveries of male fish with female sex organs. For sea turtles, the plastic blocks their digestive tract and the food that is trapped releases gases that render them buoyant, and unable to dive for food.

A group based in Mexico, Global Ban Now, is raising public awareness of the issue with the release of their short video, Silent Killers. The video was created after a member discovered a sea turtle close to death off the coast of La Paz, Mexico. The sick turtle was brought to a facility in La Paz, where it was discovered that she was slowly starving because a single-use plastic bag, which she had eaten, was blocking her digestive tract. The turtle was kept for a couple of weeks, the plastic was removed and she was released back to the sea.

Visit EcoWatch’s WATER page for more related news on this topic.

I'd like to add that one of the componets of plastic bags is Bisphenol A. Glyphosate (Round up) also disrupts the endocrine system.

The county I live in charges $0.10 per plastic bag. Most people use recycleable plastic, or cloth bages when the go to the grocery store.

Dishwasher and laundry detergent use plastic beads to scrub. That isn't 'filtered' out of water departments in cities, or counties. The same goes for plastic clothes such as rayon, or nylon. As the clothes wear out in the washing machine with the plastic beads that scrub them it goes into the ocean - where wales and other species (clams, mussles, coral, and etc.) filter sea water for food.

Yes, it is, but something has to be done. There is someone out on the ocean now trying to make change with what is there too. I can't remember the news report offhand, but he's trying.

Yea something needs to be done. These plastic bags stay in the environment for many years before they can break down.

Ocean acidification sems to be a big problem that many don't talk about - climate change is still a tabboo subject for obvious reasons.

In the UK the government hasn't banned single use plastic shopping bags but places a charge of 25p per shopping trip. Of course this is far from enough they should ban them totally. 

Definitely!

I use cloth bags when I shop, & I REFUSE to use those coffee pods, or laundry pods, etc., & I take my own carry cup if I want coffee somewhere.

The canvas bags I use are not only stronger but hold much more shopping. The only problem is when I get my shopping delivered to my home they, the supermarkets wont use paper bags.

Well that seems dumb to me. Will they not follow a request for paper bags, or even cardboard boxes?

No I've tried and they've said sorry but NO

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