skip to main content

Waste

Pharmaceuticals and endocrine disruptors: transfer from water to land ecosystems

Pharmaceuticals and endocrine disruptors increasingly contaminate the world’s freshwaters. New research provides direct evidence of their transfer from aquatic to terrestrial ecosystems via the consumption of aquatic insects by terrestrial predators such as spiders, birds and bats. This exposure may have negative impacts on the physiology and population dynamics of predators, suggesting a need for improved risk-assessment guidelines and practices. <a href="https://ec.europa.eu/environment/integration/research/newsalert/pdf/569na3_en-1323-aquatic-insects-transfer-pharmaceuticals-and-endocrine-disruptors_aquatic-to-terrestrial-ecosystems.pdf">Click here to read more</a>

 
Towards the global plastics agreement - stay of play

In response to the global problem of marine litter and plastic pollution, which is projected to triple by 2040, the Governments of Ecuador, Germany, Ghana and Vietnam will jointly organize a Ministerial Conference on Marine Litter and Plastic Pollution, most likely on 1 Sep 2021. The objective is to adopt an ambitious Ministerial Declaration paving the way for the UNEA5 to adopt a negotiating mandate for a global plastics agreement in Feb 2022. The first pre-meeting to the Ministerial Conference on 27-28 May with more 500 participants including governments, NGO’s, industry showed broad support for launching the negotiations for a legally binding global agreement for plastics through a circular economy/life cycle approach. DG ENV is now working with the EEAS to prepare a targeted outreach in run up to UNEA 5.2. with the primary focus on like-minded (signatories to New York declaration) and open-minded countries (e.g. Indonesia, India, Malaysia, South Africa).

 
High levels of microplastic pollution found in the Antarctic and Southern Ocean deep sea

Marine plastic pollution has been found in the remote Antarctic peninsula and Southern Ocean since the 1980s, but microplastic pollution in this region is less well understood. To find out more about this emerging environmental hazard, scientists have analysed the deep-sea sediments of the Antarctic and Southern Ocean regions for the presence of microplastics. </br> </br> <b><a href="https://ec.europa.eu/environment/integration/research/newsalert/pdf/558na4_en-high-levels-of-microplastic-pollution-found-in-the-antarctic-and-southern-ocean-deep-sea.pdf">Click here to read more</a></b>

 
Circular consumption: paying attention to potential rebound effects

The circular economy (CE) aims to reduce the use of virgin materials by reusing materials as much as possible. This study examines which types of European households adopt circular consumption habits, how this is reflected in their material footprint and how rebound effects (when environmental actions result in financial savings or require consumer investments) may affect the overall impact. </br> </br> <b><a href="https://ec.europa.eu/environment/integration/research/newsalert/pdf/558na3_en-circular-consumption-paying-attention-to-potential-rebound-effects.pdf">Click here to read more</a></b>

 
Nanoplastics may reduce efficacy of constructed wetlands for water treatment

Water bodies absorb the nitrogen released by human activity and must, therefore, be protected against nutrient overloading (or eutrophication), which can cause significant environmental damage. Constructed wetlands (CWs) are widely used as an eco-friendly treatment method for this; however, the efficacy of CWs may be affected by the presence of emerging contaminants in wastewater. This study explores how nano-sized particles of polystyrene plastic (nanoplastics) affect nitrogen removal (denitrification<sup>1</sup>) in CWs. </br> </br> <b><a href="https://ec.europa.eu/environment/integration/research/newsalert/pdf/557na4_en_nanoplastics-may-reduce-efficacy-of-constructed-wetlands-for-water-treatment.pdf">Click here to read more</a></b>

 
Sea cucumbers eat different plastic microparticles due to local habitat features

The accumulation of plastics in the marine environment is an issue of great concern, with bottom-feeding species eating plastic microparticles (MPs) they find in the sediment of their habitats. To understand what influences the entry of MPs into the marine food web, a study took samples from the vicinity of two Croatian islands, exploring the impact of MPs on a marine species: the sea cucumber.

 
Waste coffee grounds could provide carbon for use in high-energy storage devices

Demand for portable energy storage is growing with rising demand for products such as electric cars. Supercapacitors supply a higher power density and longer cycle life than a conventional battery but require porous carbon in their manufacture. A new study presents a method to create large amounts of carbon — suitable for supercapacitor manufacture — from an abundant, low-cost source: used coffee grounds.

 
Food waste: prevention in the service sector would have major environmental benefits

Approximately 88 megatonnes (Mt) of food are wasted every year in the European Union, causing 186 metric tons (Mt) carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2-eq) — a universal measure for all greenhouse gases. The impact of food waste on the climate, acidification and eutrophication is around 15–16% of the environmental impact of the entire food chain. In developed countries, food waste is high at the point of consumption— so significantly reducing food losses would require a food-waste reduction in households and the food-services sector.