YOUR WEEKLY BRIEFING FROM PARLEY
In a massive step forward in the war on plastic, the European parliament has voted overwhelmingly to ban ten of the most common single-use plastic items. Under the new legislation, products with existing non-plastic alternatives like straws, cotton swabs, disposable plates, cutlery, stirrers and balloon sticks would be banned by 2021. Other plastics, like drinks bottles, will have to be collected separately and recycled at a rate of 90% by 2025. The wide-ranging policy also contains measures against fishing gear, cigarette butts and polystyrene fast-food containers.
Greenland sharks are now officially the longest-living vertebrates known on Earth, scientists say. Researchers used radiocarbon dating to determine the ages of 28 of the animals, and estimated that one female was about 400 years old. The team found that the sharks grow at just one centimeter a year, but can reach five meters in length.
With a crucial international conference underway, Dr. Sylvia Earle writes that “the land, ice and waters of Antarctica are the blue heart of our planet, a global commons that must be protected for the benefit of all humanity and life on Earth.” The two-week meeting could see the establishment of crucial marine protected areas, if the countries involved can agree.
Ministers from small island states including Palau, the Solomon Islands and Kiribati are calling for help over the “devastating” impacts of criminal networks in the fishing industry. Fishermen, unable to work because fish stocks are so low, are being lured into gun-running and drug trafficking by international organized crime, according to officials.
A new study has confirmed what has long been feared: microplastics are passing through the human digestion system. Researchers tested eight subjects from eight different countries: Austria, Italy, Finland, Japan, the Netherlands, Poland, Russia, and the UK. Every participant's poop tested positive for plastics, from polyethylene to polypropylene to PVC.