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Need to Know

Exploring the Plastic Crisis in Southeast Asia

Indonesia beach waste
NPR highlights the plastic crisis in Southeast Asia, where growing economies and a budding middle class are consuming more and more goods.

NPR has been exploring what has been called the most important environmental issue of our time: plastic waste. In one of its most recent articles, NPR profiles an activist named Froilan Grate and a group of people, who have been taking on the wealthiest and most profitable organizations in the world to change the way they make plastic and package consumer goods.

The article highlights the plastic crisis in Southeast Asian countries, where growing economies and a budding middle class are consuming more and more goods either made of plastic or wrapped in it. However, waste management in these countries is either undeveloped or nonexistent, and much of the plastic cannot be recycled. So, it ends up drifting everywhere.

Grate and his team have been conducting public “brand audits” across Southeast Asia to call out the major brands that use plastic packaging. They say these companies need to be part of the solution.

NPR has more details:

Try this: Write a list of every piece of plastic you touch in a day.

I did it. I stopped counting at 56 items.

Plastic is to our time what wood was for millennia. But unlike wood, most plastic doesn't go away. It ends up as trash in streets, rivers, lakes and oceans. It breaks down into microplastic — particles a tenth of an inch or smaller — and gets into our food and water. The health effects are largely unknown.

Read the full article here.

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