YOUR WEEKLY BRIEFING FROM PARLEY
Over 30,000 edible drinks capsules made from seaweed were handed out to runners at the London Marathon this week to help reduce plastic waste. Last year an estimated 760,000 plastic bottles were thrown onto the city's streets by runners and spectators. The target for 2019 was to bring this number down by 215,000.
The event was the largest trial so far of Ooho capsules – biodegradable pods made by a London start-up that can be filled with water or other beverages. Runners could either consume the pods whole, or bite into them to release the liquid. Made from a seaweed-based substance, any discarded wrapping will naturally decompose in four to six weeks – roughly the same time as a piece of fruit.
Meanwhile, bottled water sales in the UK overall continue to rise. Thanks to groups like Surfers Against Sewage and the ‘Blue Planet II’ effect, awareness of plastic pollution issues is at an all-time high in the UK – yet the number of single-use water bottles continues to grow. Sales were worth a record £558.4m in the year to last November, an increase of 7%. The research revealed that if bottled water isn’t available, 44% of people would buy another drink, 14% would go without and just 4.5% would find a water fountain.
The great state of Maine has joined a growing list of states, cities, and counties – including 14 towns in Maine – to ban foam food containers in an effort to reduce plastic waste. The new bill bans bowls, plates, cups, trays, cartons, and other containers designed to hold prepared food and beverages. Disposable containers made of expanded polystyrene are widely used because they are inexpensive, lightweight, and keep cooked food hot – but they are also difficult to recycle and easily fracture into small pieces.
The oil-and-gas industry has worn out its welcome in Canadian marine conservation areas, and the country’s environmentalists are overjoyed. Fisheries Minister Jonathan Wilkinson unveiled new standards for marine protected areas, fully prohibiting oil-and-gas activity, as well as mining, waste dumping and bottom-trawling. The change brings Canada up to international standards set by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
Officials have found high levels of a chemical commonly used in sunscreen that is believed to harm coral reefs in bay waters off Hawaii's Big Island. The results found the chemical's concentration at one of the sites to be 262 times greater than levels considered high-risk by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. "That is the highest we've ever measured in the world," said Craig Downs, executive director of the Haereticus Environmental Laboratory, which conducted the sampling.