Tackling Plastic Pollution

Plastics: From Pollution to Solutions (start time: 0:58)  We all want to think that the yogurt tubs, takeout containers and other plastic products that we toss into our kitchen recycling bin will actually get recycled. Chances are, they won’t.  Plastic product makers have for many years been deceptively applying the “chasing arrows” recycling symbol on their products, even when those products can not and will not be  recycled. But some progress is being made in tackling the enormous plastics-pollution problem, including by forcing producers to truthfully label their plastic products, and passing legislation that holds companies financially responsible for the afterlife of their products.  In this week’s show, host Susan Moran interviews Susan Shain, a reporting fellow at the New York Times who  recently wrote an article about plastic recycling; and Jennifer Congdon,  deputy director of Beyond Plastics, an environmental advocacy project based at Bennington College in Bennington, Vermont.

Host/Producer: Susan Moran
Engineer: Shannon Young
Executive Producer: Beth Bennett

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Recycling: Obstacles and Progress

High angle close-up of pieces of recyclable garbage on conveyor belt inside waste management facility.

Recycling: Obstacles and Progress (start time: 4:35): This week’s How On Earth focuses on the state of recycling and composting in Colorado and well beyond. A newly published report by Eco-Cycle and CoPIRG shows that Colorado ranks well below the national average, and below its own goals, on recycling and composting. But the report also highlights some recently passed legislation that could help dramatically improve the landscape, by holding producers responsible for the waste that their products generate. Host Susan Moran interviews Suzanne Jones, executive director of Eco-Cycle; and Anja Brandon, the U.S. plastics policy analyst at Ocean Conservancy, an environmental nonprofit organization.

Host, Producer: Susan Moran
Engineer: Shannon Young
Executive Producer: Susan Moran
Headline Contributors: Beth Bennett, Shelley Schlender

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Plastic Pollution & Solutions

Marine debris, Hawaii photo courtesy: NOAA
Marine debris, Hawaii
photo courtesy: NOAA

Tackling Plastic Pollution (starts at 3:09):  It is, sadly, common for beachcombers around the world to see, along with clam shells and sand dollars, plastic bottles, bottle caps, cigaret filters and fish nets washed up on shore. According to estimates by World Economic Forum, our oceans will be populated by more pounds of plastic waste than fish by 2050. About a third of all plastic that is produced does not get properly collected; instead, much of it ends up floating in the ocean, or clogging the guts of innocent albatross, other birds and sea mammals. It could take 450 years, or forever, for plastic to completely biodegrade. Plastic waste just breaks down (photo-degrades) into tiny bits, causing harm to wildlife and, potentially, humans. How On Earth host Susan Moran and contributing host Jeff Burnside interview two guests who are working in different ways to assess the extent of the problem and its impacts, to educate people about it, and to effect positive change. Dr. Jenna Jambeck, an associate engineering professor at the University of Georgia, lead-authored a seminal paper in 2015 that estimated how much plastic waste is in the ocean. She will soon co-lead an all-female National Geographic expedition to study plastic pollution in India and Bangladesh.  Laura Parker is a staff writer at National Geographic magazine covering climate change and ocean environments. She won the Scripps Howard award for environmental reporting her June 2018 National Geographic cover article titled “Planet or Plastics?”

Hosts: Susan Moran, Jeff Burnside
Producer: Susan Moran
Engineer: Evan Perkins
Executive Producer: Joel Parker

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