Thursday, 24 Sep 2020

The plastic industry thinks chemical recycling can help solve our plastic problems, but others disagree

Protest in Mauritius Over Oil Spill, Dozens of Dead Dolphins

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Johannesburg (AP) — Honking and drumming, hundreds of people have begun protesting in the capital of Mauritius over the government’s handling of an oil spill from a grounded Japanese ship and the alarming discovery of dozens of dead dolphins in recent days.

The protesters on Saturday waved the country’s flag and held up signs with messages such as “You have no shame.”

Thousands of residents were expected to attend the march through Port Louis a month after the ship struck a coral reef offshore and later cracked and spilled around 1,000 tons of fuel oil into fragile marine areas.

The Indian Ocean island nation depends heavily on tourism, and the spill has been a severe blow on top of the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, which has limited international travel.

Authorities on Friday said at least 39 dead dolphins have washed ashore but it’s not yet clear what killed them. Some experts fear the chemicals in the fuel are to blame.

Residents and environmentalists have demanded investigations into why the ship strayed miles off course. Its captain and first officer have been arrested and charged with “endangering safe navigation.”

The ship’s remaining fuel was pumped out before the vessel split in two.

South Korea’s Ruling Party Picks Ex-PM as Possible Moon Successor

South Korea’s ruling Democratic Party picked Lee Nak-yon as its new leader Saturday, paving the way for a possible bid by the former prime minister in the 2022 presidential election.

Lee won 60.8% of the total vote in the online election and was followed by four-term lawmaker Kim Bu-gyeom, with 21.4%. The new party leader said in his campaign speech that that he would “succeed and develop” the policies of President Moon Jae-in’s administration.

Lee, 67, takes the reins at the party with the nation battling a resurgence of coronavirus and soaring real estate prices, particularly in the capital, Seoul. One of his main rivals in the presidential election is Lee Jae-myung, governor of Gyeonggi province, who didn’t run for party leadership and has been critical of the government.

Lee Jae-myung has hit out at Moon’s housing policies that have made homes unaffordable for working families in his province, which is South Korea’s most populous.

Lee Nak-yon, who was governor of South Jeolla providence, is known for his forceful exchanges as a lawmaker and his attempts to communicate directly with citizens. After studying at the prestigious Seoul National University and covering politics for the DongA Ilbo newspaper, Lee entered politics two decades ago under the former progressive President Kim Dae-jung.

Riots in Sweden After Koran Burning by Far-Right Activists

Stockholm (AP) — Far-right activists burned a Quran in the southern Swedish city of Malmo, sparking riots and unrest after more than 300 people gathered to protest, police said Saturday.

Rioters set fires and threw objects at police and rescue services Friday night, slightly injuring several police officers and leading to the detention of about 15 people.

The violence followed the burning Friday afternoon of a Quran, near a predominantly migrant neighborhood, that was carried out by far-right activists and filmed and posted online, according to the TT news agency.

Later, three people were arrested on suspicion of inciting hatred against an ethnic group after kicking the Muslim holy book.

UAE Legalizes Trade, Business Deals With Israeli Entities

Follow us @middleeast for more news on the region.

The United Arab Emirates has formally legalized trade and business transactions with Israeli entities as it moves to establish relations with the Jewish state.

UAE ruler Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed issued a decree canceling an old federal law that legislated for a boycott of Israel, state-run news agency WAM reported on Saturday. The decision is part of the UAE’s efforts “to expand diplomatic and commercial cooperation with Israel,” WAM said.

Canceling the boycott law will allow individuals and firms in the UAE to enter into agreements with entities or individuals in Israel, “whether trade or financial transactions or any other deal,” according to WAM. It will also allow Israeli products “of all types” to be imported and sold in the UAE.

The UAE earlier this month said it’s moving to normalize relations with Israel, joining Egypt and Jordan as the only Arab countries to do so.

READ MORE: Israel’s Flagship Carrier El Al Set for Unprecedented UAE Flight

The plastic industry thinks chemical recycling can help solve our plastic problems, but others disagree

Plastics recycling is failing. Globally, over 350 million metric tons of plastic are produced annually, but according to the OECD, only 14-18% of that is recycled. And now that China has stopped importing the world's plastic waste, we're being forced to deal with it domestically. 

The problem is, most plastics just aren't recyclable. And even those that are degrade in quality each time they're remade, meaning they'll eventually end up in a landfill too. Many environmentalists say this means we need to stop plastics production at the source, and support bans or taxes on single-use plastics.

But plastic industry groups are betting big on a technology known as chemical recycling, which is supposed to break down any type of plastic into its raw components, and convert it into either fuel or plastic that's as good a new. 

A number of companies like Brightmark, Plastic Energy, and Agilyx now say they're ready to deploy this technology on a larger scale than ever before. But skepticism abounds, as environmental groups express doubt about the tech's economic feasibility, capacity to further scale up, and carbon footprint. 

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