Ep. 13 – Demands for the Plastic Treaty: Science over Profit

On March 2, 2022, countries from around the world agreed to establish a global treaty to end plastic pollution. After the first meetings in Senegal and Uruguay, the discussions around the treaty are in full swing. Next, the country’s representatives are heading to Paris, France, in May 2023. They’ll meet for the second session of the INC, the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee, which is the forum where the treaty is debated. After that, three more of these INC meetings are scheduled. If all goes well, the diplomats could agree on the plastics treaty at the final conference in the summer of 2025.

So that’s the rough timeline – pretty ambitious, compared to how slow politics often move. But speed isn’t everything. How will the delegates make sure to actually get a treaty that tackles plastic pollution effectively, and in a fair way? Who gets a seat at the negotiating table, and who doesn’t? And what does the treaty need to contain and cover? In the past months, Anja asked scientists and experts to send her their thoughts and demands. In this episode, you’ll get to hear messages from Richard Thompson, Bethany Carney Almroth, Sonia Dias, Tridibesh Dey, Martin Wagner, Trisia Farrelly, Rebecca Altman and Lesley Henderson. Continue reading “Ep. 13 – Demands for the Plastic Treaty: Science over Profit”

Ep. 12: Paving the Way for a Global Plastics Treaty

Eight years after first flagging plastics as an issue, the United Nations Environment Assembly met in March 2022 for a historic decision. Delegates from more than 170 nations agreed on a mandate to put together a legally binding global plastics treaty within the next two years. Despite some lobbying against it behind the scenes, the draft for a strong resolution prevailed with just a few cuts. The treaty can now cover plastic pollution across the full lifecycle of the material, from production to consumption and disposal. Learn more about the path that led up to this landmark decision from Brooke Bauman, who hosts this episode of Plastisphere. She explores the concept of waste colonialism and compares the impacts of recycling and incineration in conversation with Alexis McGivern and Claire Arkin of GAIA (Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives).

Transcript with links and photos from Kenya by James Wakibia >>

Guest voices: Alexis McGivern, Claire Arkin
Thanks to: Kevin Fisher, Nils Simon, Karen Raubenheimer, Baldeep Kaur Grewal, Eva Vander Giessen, Tridibesh Dey, Luisa Beck, Inés Blaesius and all the Plastic Tweeps
Subscribe: www.plastisphere.earth
Music: Dorian Roy and Blue Dot Sessions www.sessions.blue/
Cover art: Maren von Stockhausen

Ep. 11: From Zero Waste to Collective Action

Plastisphere is back with Brooke and Anja! Hear about Anja’s waste audit and DIY projects during the pandemic year, from home-made milk and laundry detergent to fresh pasta. Making stuff from scratch can be fun and empowering, but what’s the impact of these lifestyle changes? Anja’s packaging bin is a bit lighter now, but still full of plastic – far away from the ideals of Zero Waste. How much influence do individual consumers really have on a systemic issue like plastic pollution? And what are possible scenarios for tackling plastic pollution in the coming years on a global scale? Learn more from Stephanie Borrelle.

>Transcript with links, videos and bonus track

With: Steph Borrelle, Plastic Free Mermaid, Dorian and Luisa
Music: Dorian Roy and Blue Dot Sessions
Thanks to: Wastelandrebel Shia Su, Lisa Bryan for the oat milk recipe
Cover art: Maren von Stockhausen

Ep. 9: The Discovery of Plastic Pollution

Plastic pollution seems to be a pretty new issue, right? In the past few years, the topic has been all over the media. But if you explore the history of science, it turns out that the problem really isn’t all that new. Some scientists have been aware of plastic in the ocean for over half a century. So, how was plastic pollution first discovered? And why didn’t we hear about it earlier? Continue reading “Ep. 9: The Discovery of Plastic Pollution”

Ep.7: Confused about bioplastics?

What happens if bioplastics end up in the environment? In this episode, Anja takes a closer look at synthetic polymers marketed as more environmentally friendly. Can they contribute to a healthier planet, and in what way? Continue reading “Ep.7: Confused about bioplastics?”

Ep.6: Traces in the soil

Plastic pollution also affects the soil, the thin layer of ground that feeds all of us. For a long time, this terrestrial plastic has been overlooked. Now scientists are starting to investigate the extent and impacts of plastic pollution in the soil and in the ground. What do we know about them? Continue reading “Ep.6: Traces in the soil”

Ep.5: Message from Midway

Chris Jordan has taken some of the most iconic pictures to shape our image of plastic pollution. He traveled to Midway Island on his quest to photograph the evasive “Great Pacific Garbage Patch”, which is really a soup of microplastics. There, he documented albatross chicks who had died with their guts full of plastic. His images went viral, but they also haunted him so much that he decided to return to the island. Continue reading “Ep.5: Message from Midway”

Ep.4: Plastic vs. the Climate?

Plastic pollution might be the most visible environmental issue we face today. But there are other kinds of pollution, and they are far harder to see. One of the most dangerous is the huge amount of greenhouse gases that we emit into the atmosphere. In this episode, Anja explores the connections between plastic pollution and climate change. Continue reading “Ep.4: Plastic vs. the Climate?”

Ep.3: Waste picker economies

Anja calls up Dr. Jenna Jambeck and Amy Brooks from the University of Georgia on a research trip in Vietnam. In many Asian countries, a booming economy is coupled with more people using throw-away items. Informal recyclers and waste pickers who have traditionally sorted the waste cannot keep up. But, like millions of people around the world, they depend on waste as a resource for their livelihoods. How can the systems be reformed without leaving the people behind? To find out, Anja calls Dr. Sonia Maria Dias, a garbologist from Brazil. Continue reading “Ep.3: Waste picker economies”

Ep.2: Plastic, the size of a virus

In this episode of the Plastisphere, Anja goes on a lab tour with Alexandra ter Halle from Paul Sabatier University in Toulouse. The chemist and her team were the first to detect nanoplastic in the open ocean – plastic so small that it is comparable in size to a virus. What do we know about these very tiny pieces, and how do researchers try to detect and understand them? Continue reading “Ep.2: Plastic, the size of a virus”

Ep.1: Welcome to the Plastisphere

In this introduction to the Plastisphere podcast, Anja takes the listener on a journey back in time, from a remote plastic beach on the Big Island of Hawaii to the factory of a big chemical producer making bioplastics. She shares what she has learned about the issue of plastic pollution in the past years. Continue reading “Ep.1: Welcome to the Plastisphere”