Plastic isn’t the problem: the issue is how we design plastic products and dispose of them, a global expert on plastic litter on Tuesday told Europe’s biggest inter-disciplinary science meeting, EuroScience Open Forum 2018. Better design could increase recycling rates and reduce the amount of plastic that ends up in the oceans, where it threatens marine life, said Plymouth University marine biologist Richard Thompson. Plastic pollution is a rapidly growing global problem, driven partly by the fact that humans have had "60 years of training" to regard most plastic products as disposable items, said Thompson. The impact of this throw-away culture is compounded by poor design that makes products difficult or too expensive to recycle, he said. A simple example of bad design is colourful, single-use bottles: many companies won’t recycle coloured bottles because the pigments they contain are difficult to remove, and can reduce the value of recycling by as much as 50%, he said. The issues ...

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