Most of what we believe about plastics and the environment comes from internet gossip, which is notoriously unreliable. Do you care enough about the environment to look at the peer-reviewed science instead?. The headlines and articles we read are not supported by science and evidence. Studies reveal that three in four Americans overestimate their ability to identify fake news, which is why we need an independent, trusted source of information. It turns out that only a few percent of the wisest people actually care enough to look at the evidence. Are you one of them? I hope so, because our future depends on it.
This site is by a professional scientist who spent over 1000 hours reading thousands of scientific articles and reports to find the truth. By reviewing what is probably the World’s largest collection of science, I discovered that almost everything we’ve been told is simply untrue.
I don’t care if people are against plastics based on the facts, but at present people are against plastics based on clear, unsubstantiated lies. As a leading plastic materials scientist, I do not make, sell or market plastics. Furthermore, my research on this topic was all done without any funding to keep it free of bias. The website, the videos and even the book are all provided for free, so that we can all start making wiser choices based on hard evidence.
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A. No, according to scientific studies, plastics are usually the greenest option. They are better for the environment than metal, glass, cotton and usually paper, so replacing plastic harms the environment. Plus, getting rid of plastics would be terrible – no internet, no cell phones, no computers, no medical devices, no electricity to our homes, and so on.
A. No. Studies show that PET is far greener than aluminium cans or glass bottles. Replacing PET would harm the environment – more energy & waste plus the release of far more carbon dioxide. See data here.
A. No. There are no such islands, “patches” or “soup”. There are areas where plastics concentrate but levels are so low, you can’t even tell if you are sailing or swimming there. Click here to see the the full story.
A. No. Biodegradable plastics are less green than standard plastics and when they degrade, they release large amounts of carbon dioxide.
A. No. Plastics degrade just like all carbon-based materials like wood and leaves. Experiments prove that a plastic bag disintegrates in less than one year outdoors. Click here for more information on plastics degradation.
A. No. This was debunked (see BBC article). Also, they recently realized that they overestimated the plastic entering the oceans from rivers by 100-1000 times. It was previously thought that millions of tons of microplastic enter the oceans from rivers but the latest estimate is now 6 thousand tons. A new dedicated page debunking the more plastic than fish myth can be found here.
A. No. If you increase supply of a commodity, like plastics, the price drops and you lose money. It makes no business sense to artificially increase the supply.
A. No. When you read the study you find they didn’t detect any plastic at all. It is a shamefully poor piece of science and it has been reported to the publisher for retraction. Click here for more information on microplastics.
A. No. Metal and glass are terrible for the environment. The solution is to keep increasing recycling rates for plastic, which many countries have already done.
A. No. This article says that 10-20 tons of plastic dust is deposited on the Grand Canyon per year. That sounds like a lot, so I checked and the total dust landing on the Grand Canyon is 50 000 tons per year meaning plastic is just 0.03% of the total. A little perspective goes a long way! source: Atmospheric Dust Deposition Varies by Season and Elevation in the Colorado Front Range, USA Also they found that the natural dust is enriched in heavy metals like lead and cadmium. It also contains large amounts of quartz, which is proven to cause cancer.
A. Microplastic is the latest kind of dust found in the placenta. For example, studies show that titanium dioxide, carbon black and silica have all been found. It is interesting that microplastics in the placenta generated such interest whereas no-one had any interest in the other particles. Sources: Silica and Titanium Dioxide Nanoparticles Cause Pregnancy Complications in Mice – Ambient black carbon particles reach the fetal side of human placenta – Basal Ti level in the human placenta and meconium and evidence of a materno-foetal transfer of food-grade TiO2 nanoparticles in an ex vivo placental perfusion model
A. No – the chemical in the study was not a toxin but an FDA food contact approved additive called oleamide that has been used in plastics and cosmetics without issue for decades.
A. No – although it has been claimed that the remote island is covered in plastic on the beaches, GoogleMaps satellite images show that the beaches are clean. Click here to see for yourself and see the screenshot below.
A. No – this has been studied and they were found to biodegrade rapidly. Click here to see what the scientists say.
A. No – dust is everywhere so reporting it is non news. Microplastics are 0.03% of dust and shown to be non-toxic. What about the other 99.7% of the dust? Much of that is proven to cause cancer or be toxic so why not mention that? Because demonizing plastics is so much easier than presenting the science properly in perspective. See more about the science and perspective here. Also see Microplastics in Antarctic snow: Shocking discovery or a case of plastics persecution?
A. No. Plastics are less that 0.5% of all waste and they are proven to reduce overall waste creation including waste going to landfill. Replacing plastics means creating 3-4x pounds of waste for every pound of plastic replaced.
A. No. Scientific studies reveal that just 0.5% of all carbon dioxide is created by the manufacture of plastics and that plastics alternatives generate far more. See this dedicated page for more on the carbon footprint of plastics.
A. No. The scientific evidence shows that people are the cause of litter, not materials. Over 80% of litter is dropped intentionally. To stop litter, we need to encourage better human behaviour via education and legislation.
A. Abandoned nets in particular cause harm. However, replacing plastic nets with rope nets does not solve the problem. The problem is people who abandon nets, not plastic. Comprehensive scientific studies show that plastics are not a significant threat to turtles, whales or birds as shown in this video.
A. No. Plastic bags are the greenest alternative (see details here). Changing to paper bags means cutting down millions more trees per year, more carbon dioxide released & generating up to 10x more waste. A lifecycle analysis professional examined all 24 studies on bags and concluded:
“From all 24 reports and reviews assessed, the actual LCA analyses on grocery bags overwhelmingly point to plastic as the material with least environmental impact, both at single use level and multi-purpose.”
Neil Shackelton – Founder, Medoola
A. No. Only 4-5% of oil is used to make plastics and the plastics save more than that by reducing the weight of our cars, by thermally insulating buildings and by using less energy to make than other materials. Furthermore, although oil is used in plastic materials, far more oil is burnt to to create other materials like metal and glass.
A. No. That number was made up by a 9 year old schoolboy named Milo Cress. The press repeated it without thinking to check it first.
A. No. They found LEGO on a beach in England where a well-known ship accident dropped a million LEGO pieces.
A. No. They placed the microplastic in the body to see whether they could detect it. Quote from The Guardian newspaper “This article was updated on 17 August 2020, after more information was provided to the Guardian by the researchers, to reflect the fact that the plastic particles had been inserted into the samples of human tissue.”
A. There is no evidence that it was. They never analyzed the object to see if the object was made of plastic. They wrote an email admitting that they were not sure it was a straw at all. There was never a peer-reviewed publication on it either, so this story is nothing but gossip. A page here fully debunks the turtle and straw myth.
A. Studies show that although some CO2 is given off making plastics, overall they reduce carbon dioxide by 1. massively reducing food waste 2. massively reducing gasoline consumption of vehicles 3. reducing use of coal, gas and oil for heating through their thermal insulating properties. Studies that only look at the CO2 given off while making plastic are therefore very misleading. Lastly, it is important to note that plastic replacements like paper, metal and glass give off 5-15x more CO2 when produced. The subject of plastics and carbon dioxide is covered in detail on this page.
A. Plastics themselves cannot release anything because polymer molecules are too large to move around. Additives in plastics can be released but all additives are strictly regulated. Any additives found to be cause for concern are banned. It is also worth remembering that apples, pears, apricots, bananas and even wood release toxic chemicals such as formaldehyde and yet, as with plastics, the levels are too low to be of concern.
A. No. That study funded by the WWF actually says “humans may ingest 0.1 to 5 g of microplastics weekly”, (5g is one credit card in weight). A newer and independent study Lifetime Accumulation of Microplastic in Children and Adults said that the amount of microplastic consumed is negligible and it would take over 20 000 years to ingest a credit card worth of plastic.
A. No. PFAS are not plastics and their source is not clear. There is no evidence that PFAS cause harm to humans, they have been regulated for years and concentrations have dropped. Also, they linger for years not “forever”. PFAS concentrations in water are measured in parts per trillion and most places have well below the EPA limit. “It is very difficult to visualize how minute a particle one part per trillion really is. To get an idea, one ppt would be represented by a single drop of food coloring in 18 million gallons of water. Another way to view it as representing a single second out of 32,000 years.”
A. No – there is no evidence to support that claim. In fact, scientific studies show the causes and plastic is not one of them. Click here to see for yourself. More science showing that plastics are not a significant threat to animals is shown in this video.
A. Yes – however, the study used a special type of particle only found in laboratories meaning it does not exist in the environment. Therefore the study is not meaningful.
A. Any particles in dust of the right size can end up in blood, so this is not news. Because microplastics are just 0.03% of dust, the levels found were extremely low, i.e. about 1 part per million. Furthermore, there is no credible evidence of harm. It appears that the media are more interested in scaring us than in bringing is accurate information and that was proven in a recent scientific study. See the article Microplastics in Human Blood – How Concerned Should we Be?