The Labiotech team cares about lots of stuff like biotech, dogs, and keeping straws out of the noses of turtles. So here’s our latest team challenge: Plastic Free July! Who’s joining us?

Plastic is everywhere. It packages our food, it brushes our teeth, it brings us fire, and has many more handy dandy uses. It’s an incredible substance that’s durable, cheap, and lightweight. Humankind is in love.

So I’ve convinced the team that the turtles need us more than we need to drink out of a plastic straw. We’ll be giving up plastics cold turkey for the month of July. Place your bets on who will be the best plastic avoiding Labiotecher!

The Issue

In 2015, a study found that 8 million metric tons of plastic ended up in our oceans, and it’s estimated that by 2025 it will be nearly 20 times this. This is a far bigger problem than just looking ugly and ruining your summer holiday. About 100,000 marine animals and around 1 million seabirds die each year because of plastic pollution.

Because of its durability, it doesn’t really break down. It breaks up (after 20 to 1000 years), making it a permanent pollution issue. The little particles they leave behind are known as “mermaid tears”. They float around the seas in their microscopic state and end up in the bellies of marine animals, which (if you decide to go for that diet), end up in your belly. That’s a bit toxic!

Only 9% of all plastics ever made have been recycled (crazy!). Those that are, usually are bad quality, single-use items. Eventually, it all ends up on a landfill which then sits there in its unbiodegradable state becoming more and more of a blight on the environment.

There are so many other issues that could be included in here but there is enough to write a novel worthy of Proust, so I will leave you with some useful references (at the end of the article) so you can learn more and cry over the state of the poor world.

The Solution

The biotech industry is very mindful of this issue and there are some pretty cool biotechs trying to make a difference. Carbios is making recyclable bioplastics and a technology to break down PET plastic fibers in textile waste, the University of Warwick is developing methods to find tiny bits of plastic in the ocean, and Avantium is converting plant waste into biobased plastic!

But what can we do as individuals to help this issue?

It’s time to be mindful of our consumption habits. Let’s avoid a Wall-E fiasco and start to take action! It may seem a bit daunting at first but by making a few changes, these inconveniences could really start to make a difference.

Here are some cool ideas from Plastic Free July to give you a kickstart:

So this is what the team is going to attempt to take on. It’s going to be tough and I foresee many mistakes. I’ll keep you updated on our journey and let me know if you decide to join us!

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