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Coca-Cola Named Worst Plastic Polluter in the World

Coca-Cola is responsible for more plastic trash than the next top three polluters combined.

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Coca-Cola Worst Plastic Polluter
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(TMU) — Coca-Cola has been found to be the top polluter in a global audit of plastic waste released by the Break Free From Plastic NGO.

The report, released Wednesday, shows that the transnational soft drink conglomerate is responsible for more plastic trash than the next top three polluters combined.

Over 72,500 volunteers spread across 51 countries worked on beaches, in waterways, and walked along city streets picking up plastic bottles, wrappers, bags, scraps, and other waste during a one-day cleanup in September to complete the audit.

The report detailed how Coca-Cola was by far the top polluter, with 11,732 plastics recorded across 37 countries on four continents accounting for roughly 2.5 percent of total plastic waste analyzed in the report. The company was the top plastic source in Africa and Europe and the second-largest source in Asia and South America.

Nestle and PepsiCo came in at second and third place, respectively, as the next top producers of plastic waste, with Mondelez International—the owner of popular snack brands like Oreo, Ritz, Nabisco, and Nutter Butter—and Unilever coming in as runners-up.

Other top 10 brands included Mars, Procter & Gamble, Colgate-Palmolive, Phillip Morris International, and Perfetti Van Mille.

In a statement, Break Free From Plastics blasted the companies ranking at the top of the audit for having “offered mostly false solutions to the plastics crisis, underscoring how important it is for voices from beyond the consumer goods sector to demand accountability and call for an end to single-use plastics.”

Von Hernandez, the group’s global coordinator, added:

“This report provides more evidence that corporations urgently need to do more to address the plastic pollution crisis they’ve created.

Their continued reliance on single-use plastic packaging translates to pumping more throwaway plastic into the environment.

Recycling is not going to solve this problem.

Break Free From Plastic’s nearly 1,800 member organizations are calling on corporations to urgently reduce their production of single-use plastic and find innovative solutions focused on alternative delivery systems that do not create pollution.”

Coca-Cola had previously admitted that it produces a staggering 3.3 million tons of plastic packaging per year, the rough equivalent of 200,000 bottles every minute, in figures released to The Ellen MacArthur Foundation.

Many of the companies have pledged to make their products “100 percent recyclable,” but Break Free From Plastic has blasted this as corporate propaganda that woefully falls short of addressing the real issue, noting that “recycling is not the magic solution it is often claimed to be.”

Coke introduced a new plastic bottle earlier this month that it claims is made from recycled marine plastic, while last year the company vowed to collect and recycle “the equivalent of every bottle or can it sells globally.”

However, plastic bottles are only able to be recycled a few times before their polymer chains shorten, leading to a deterioration of quality. Many plastics are also turned into products including clothing, construction material and other products which aren’t ever recycled again.

The report said:

“We cannot recycle our way out of the plastic problem, and companies that are claiming it is the solution are simply avoiding making real change.”

The use of plastic is key to the workings of the global economy, and while most global and local authorities acknowledge the huge harm it causes to the environment, its usage has also paved the way to spectacular advances in modern society in the fields of medicine, food preservation, water transportation, hygiene, high technology, and a range of other applications.

Yet in an economy that places the greatest incentive on short-term profit and a culture revolving around convenience and mass consumption, plastics have also become a curse—with a “throwaway” mentality and single-use disposable products displacing durable, reusable, and washable products.

As fracked natural gas supplies increase in the United States and across the world, the cost of producing and exporting plastics has become cheaper, making the plastic market hugely profitable once again for the fossil fuel and petrochemical industries.

By Elias Marat | Creative Commons | TheMindUnleashed.com

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Animals

Scientists Thrilled by Discovery of Rare, Mammoth 400-Year-Old Coral

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A massive 400-year-old hard coral discovered on the Great Barrier Reef has scientists expressing their sense of surprise and excitement.

Named Muga dambhi by the Manbarra people, the Indigenous group who have traditionally taken care of the land, the “exceptionally large” brown and cream-colored coral is located off the coast of Goolboodi or Orpheus Island in the Great Barrier Reef.

It is believed that the coral was spawned some 421 to 438 years ago, meaning that its age predates the arrival of Captain James Cook and the advent of colonization in Australia, notes the Guardian.

The spectacular coral is about 35 feet wide and over 17 feet high, and is double the size of the nearest coral.

Scientists and members of the community participating in a marine science course discovered the specimen earlier this year.

While not the largest coral in the world, the huge find is of major significance to the local ecosystem, according to Adam Smith, an adjunct professor at James Cook University who wrote the field note on the find.

“It’s like a block of apartments,” Smith said. “It attracts other species. There’s other corals, there’s fish, there’s other animals around that use it for shelter or for feeding, so it’s pretty important for them.”

“It’s a bit like finding a giant redwood tree in the middle of a botanic gardens,” he added.

It is likely that the coral hasn’t been discovered for such a long time due to its location in a relatively remote and unvisited portion of a Marine National Park zone that enjoys a high degree of protection.

“Over the last 20 or 30 years, no one has noticed, or observed, or thought it newsworthy enough to share photos, or document, or do research on this giant coral,” Smith said.

The coral is in remarkable condition, with over 70 percent of its surface covered in live coral, coral rock and microalgae. No disease, bleaching or recently deceased coral has been recorded on the specimen.

“The cumulative impact of almost 100 bleaching events and up to 80 major cyclones over a period of four centuries, plus declining nearshore water quality contextualise the high resilience of this Porites coral,” the field note added.

The specific coral has been given the name Muga dhambi, meaning big coral, out of respect for the Indigenous knowledge, language, and culture of the Manbarra Traditional Owners.

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Environment

Greenland Ice Washed Away as Summit Sees Rain for First Time in Recorded History

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For the first time in recorded history, torrential downpours of rain have struck Greenland’s icy summit nearly two miles above sea level.

Greenland, an environmentally sensitive island, is typically known for its majestic ice sheet and snowy climate, but this is fast changing due to a massive melt taking place this summer.

However, the typical snowfall has been replaced in recent years not simply by a few showers, but by heavy rainfall. The torrential downpour last week was so huge, in fact, that it washed away a terrifying amount of ice across some 337,000 square miles of the ice shelf’s surface, reports Earther.

Temperatures at the ice shelf had simultaneously warmed to a significant degree, with the summit reaching 33 degrees Fahrenheit – within a degree above freezing and the third time that the shelf has surpassed freezing temperatures this decade.

The fact that rain is falling on ice rather than snow is also significant because it is melting ice across much of southern Greenland, which already saw huge melting events last month, while hastening rising sea levels that threaten to submerge whole coastal cities and communities.

To make matters worse, any new ice formed by the freezing rainwater will not last long. The ice shelf currently existing on Greenland was formed by the compression of snow over innumerable years, which shines bright white and reflects sunlight away rather than absorbing it, as ice from frozen rain does.

The huge scale of the melt and accompanying rainfall illustrate the growing peril of rapidly warming climate conditions across the globe.

“This event by itself does not have a huge impact, but it’s indicative of the increasing extent, duration, and intensity of melting on Greenland,” wrote Ted Scambos, a senior research scientist at the National Snow and Ice Data Center at the University of Colorado. “Like the heat wave in the [U.S. Pacific] northwest, it’s something that’s hard to imagine without the influence of global climate change.”

“Greenland, like the rest of the world, is changing,” Scambos told the Washington Post. “We now see three melting events in a decade in Greenland — and before 1990, that happened about once every 150 years. And now rainfall: in an area where rain never fell.”

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South Korean Toilet Turns Poo Into Green Energy and Pays Its Users Digital Cash

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What if your morning #2 not only powered your stove to cook your eggs, but also allowed you to pay for your coffee and pastry on the way to class?

It seems like an absurd question, but one university in South Korea has invented a toilet that allows human excrement to not only be used for clean power, but also dumps a bit of digital currency into your wallet that can be exchanged for some fruit or cup noodles at the campus canteen, reports Reuters.

The BeeVi toilet – short for Bee-Vision – was designed by urban and environmental engineering professor Cho Jae-weon of the Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology (UNIST), and is meant to not only save resources but also reward students for their feces.

The toilet is designed to first deliver your excrement into a special underground tank, reducing water use, before microorganisms break the waste down into methane, a clean source of energy that can power the numerous appliances that dorm life requires.

“If we think out of the box, feces has precious value to make energy and manure,” Cho explained. “I have put this value into ecological circulation.”

The toilet can transform approximately a pound of solid human waste – roughly the average amount people poop per day – into some 50 liters of methane gas, said Cho. That’s about enough to generate half a kilowatt hour of electricity, enough to transport a student throughout campus for some of their school day.

Cho has even devised a special virtual currency for the BeeVi toilet called Ggool, or honey in Korean. Users of the toilet can expect to earn 10 Ggool per day, covering some of the many expenses students rack up on campus every day.

Students have given the new system glowing reviews, and don’t even mind discussing their bodily functions at lunchtime – even expressing their hopes to use their fecal credits to purchase books.

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