Video | Business Headlines | Internet | Science | Scientific Ethics | Technology | Search

 

Compost - a hidden source of plastic pollution

Compost - a hidden source of plastic pollution.

The extensive use of all kinds of plastic in food production is a ticking time bomb because of the risks it poses to the environment and human health, says ESR Environmental Scientist Olga Pantos.

Dr Pantos says there is a growing public awareness of the risks posed by plastic in the marine environment but there is not the same level of knowledge about the risks plastics pose in the soil.

One potentially hidden source of plastic moving into the environment is via compost.

Dr Pantos says that even consumers who want to do the right thing with their plastic waste get confused about what they can recycle and what should go to waste.
Labelling is often hard to read and often even harder to understand. She says increased use of biopolymers and plastic alternatives in food packaging makes it likely that the amount of plastic in green waste is increasing.

While some consumers might think they are making good decisions by choosing compostable and biodegradable labelled products, they can be just as harmful to the environment as conventional plastic if they are not disposed of properly.

Putting these products into compost may mean they are simply degrading to smaller pieces of plastic and making their way into the food chain.

A recent study in Germany found compost from supermarket waste had close to 900 pieces of microplastic in a one-kilogram sample.

Once that plastic gets into the compost it can have an impact on the biological function of the soil. Dr Pantos says the nature of plastics makes them effective in absorbing chemical contaminants, making them more toxic.

She says consumers are starting to become aware of the hidden plastic content in apparently harmless items like tea bags but she says there is still a lot to learn about how to make good choices as a consumer.

She says that per capita New Zealanders generate some of the highest amounts of plastic waste in the world.

Globally over 311 million tonnes of plastic was produced and most of that is single-use.

Olga Pantos is a senior scientist at ESR Food, water and Biowaste group – based in Christchurch.

She was involved in the recent survey of marine microplastics in Wellington.

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
Business Headlines | Sci-Tech Headlines

 

Reserve Bank: RBNZ To Implement $30bn Large Scale Asset Purchase Programme Of NZ Govt Bonds

The Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) has decided to implement a Large Scale Asset Purchase programme (LSAP) of New Zealand government bonds. The negative economic implications of the coronavirus outbreak have continued to intensify. The Committee ... More>>

ALSO:

Elevate NZ: Venture Fund To Lift Productivity

The Government’s new $300 million venture capital fund - announced in last year’s Budget – is now open for business as the Elevate NZ Venture Fund. Finance Minister Grant Robertson says lifting New Zealand's productivity requires well-functioning ... More>>

ALSO:


COVID-19: Case Confirmed In NZ – Expert Reaction

After spreading across the globe for months, the first case of COVID-19 has been reported in New Zealand. The Ministry of Health says the risk of a community outbreak is low, due to their preparedness and the high awareness of the disease. The Science ... More>>

ALSO:

Agriculture: New Legislation To Boost Organics

New organics legislation will boost consumer confidence and help grow an innovative sector, says Food Safety Minister Damien O’Connor. “The Organics Product Bill, introduced to Parliament this week, aims to increase consumer confidence when purchasing ... More>>

ALSO:

Biodiversity Policy: Misinformation Circulating

Forest & Bird is concerned at misinformation circulating regarding a policy statement aimed at protecting New Zealand’s unique biodiversity. The National Policy Statement for Indigenous Biodiversity is being consulted on by the ... More>>

ALSO: