Hexbyte Glen Cove Indonesian women take on plastic waste brick by brick thumbnail

Hexbyte Glen Cove Indonesian women take on plastic waste brick by brick

Hexbyte Glen Cove

Novita Tan launched recycling company Rebrick after Indonesia drew headlines as the second-biggest producer of marine waste in the world behind China.

Alarmed by the mountains of plastic waste leaching into Indonesia’s waters, two best friends are taking on the environmental menace by turning crisp bags and shampoo packets into paving bricks.

Ovy Sabrina and Novita Tan launched Rebricks after their country drew headlines as the second-biggest producer of marine waste in the world, behind China.

Indonesia has pledged to reduce by some 75 percent over the next four years—a mammoth task in the Southeast Asian nation of nearly 270 million people.

The pair got their start two years ago visiting food stalls across the capital Jakarta on the hunt for discarded instant coffee sachets, dried noodle packs and shopping bags.

Thanks to a viral social media campaign, the pair now receive reams of plastic waste packaging from donors across the country.

That rubbish flows in daily and is piled high at the little firm’s Jakarta-area factory.

“It shows how Indonesians have a strong awareness of recycling plastic waste, but they don’t know where to do it,” 34-year-old Sabrina said.

Rebricks staff mulch the packaging into tiny flakes that are then mixed with cement and sand and moulded into .

They make look like conventional bricks, but break one open and it is dotted with flecks of plastic.

Rebricks now receives plastic waste packaging from donors across the country.

Tonnes of trash

The two entrepreneurs say their method diverts waste that would have otherwise ended up in a landfill or the ocean—about four tons so far and counting.

“Every day, we can stop about 88,000 pieces of plastic sachets from littering the environment,” Tan said, adding that the company has produced more than 100,000 bricks.

Some Indonesian cities have banned single-use plastics, but waste recycling is still rare.

The problem was underscored in 2018 by the discovery of a dead sperm whale that washed ashore in a with nearly six kilograms (13 pounds) of plastic waste in its stomach.

The Rebricks pair spent two years trying to perfect their method, and picked up hints from a building materials business run by Sabrina’s family.

Some Indonesian entrepreneurs are molding plastic into flower vases, umbrellas or purses.

But the two women decided to focus on bricks so they could reach more customers.

“If our approach was to sell expensive decorative goods, there would only be a few people buying our products,” Sabrina said.

The two women hope to expand their company, which employs four people, and said they were in talks with a big consumer-goods firm about a possible collaboration.

Customer Andi Subagio said he had used the eco-bricks for repaving a restaurant walkway.

“They’re not as fragile as conventional bricks because of the inside,” he said. “And it’s about the same price.”



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Indonesian women take on plastic waste brick by brick (2021, June 5)
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Hexbyte Glen Cove Saving the eastern monarch butterfly thumbnail

Hexbyte Glen Cove Saving the eastern monarch butterfly

Hexbyte Glen Cove

An eastern monarch butterfly taking a short rest. Credit: Rodrigo Solis-Sosa

Simon Fraser University researchers are playing a key role in guiding conservation efforts to protect a declining butterfly population. The eastern monarch butterfly, an important pollinating species known for its distinct yellow-orange and black colour, is diminishing due to the loss of the milkweed plant—its primary food source.

Researchers analyzed current conservation strategies and recommended changes to how and where declining milkweed can be restored, based on assessments of climate and butterfly migration. Their study is published today in Frontiers in Environmental Science.

SFU Ph.D. student Rodrigo Solis-Sosa and professor Sean Cox, from the School of Resource and Environmental Management, led the study with biological sciences professor Arne Mooers. The trio collaborated with Christina Semeniuk, Great Lakes Institute for Environmental Research (GLIER) and study co-writer Maxim Larrivée, director of the Insectarium de Montréal, one of the five Montréal’s Space for Life museums.

Solis-Sosa says researchers hope to prevent the eastern monarch butterfly from the same fate as the western , which typically migrated from the Okanagan to California each winter. This year’s measurements of western monarch butterfly colonies found “zero overwintering populations, putting them at an all-time low and closer to extinction,” he explains.

Eastern monarch butterflies overwinter in Mexico from November to March then migrate and reproduce across the U.S. before reaching eastern Canada in late August.

Eastern monarch butterfly larvae depend on the milkweed plant for food. Credit: Rodrigo Solis-Sosa

Milkweed has declined across the U.S. due to clearing land for agricultural use, GMO crops, herbicides and climate change. While identifying the U.S. midwest as the best place to focus on restoration efforts, given optimal weather and milkweed availability when the monarch butterfly arrives, the team also found that the southern U.S. has a paramount yet somewhat neglected role.

“While increasing the number of milkweed stems in the South wasn’t as effective as in the Midwest, decreasing their number in the South was catastrophic,” says Solis-Sosa. “While the South may not play a huge role in increasing the eastern monarch butterfly population, it acts as a safety net.”

Researchers also found that recommended estimates of between 1.2 and 1.6 billion milkweed stems falls short of supporting butterfly populations— by 50 to 90 percent. Existing conservation models don’t factor in the effects of drought, changes in temperature and the stem’s effective usability by the monarch butterflies.

“Monarchs may need at least three billion stems to reach a safe minimum threshold population of six overwintering hectares,” says Solis-Sosa. The population once covered the equivalent of 18 hectares over its wintering territory nearly 25 years ago, but that hasn’t risen above six over the past decade. The latest measure has dwindled to just 2.3 overwintering hectares.

Communities in Mexico also depend on monarch butterfly ecotourism as an essential part of their livelihoods. “Monarch butterflies also hold a special significance in traditional Mexican culture,” says Solis-Sosa. “They arrive in Mexico by November 2—the Day of the Dead—and symbolize the dead souls of loved ones arriving to comfort them through the dark and cold winter season. Losing the butterfly would represent a cultural loss to the Mexican people.”

Solis-Sosa says their research will help policymakers across North America update conservation strategies and has already led to discussions with the Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CEC). The CEC supports cooperation between North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) partners to address environmental issues of continental concern.



More information:
Rodrigo Solis-Sosa et al, A Landscape-Level Assessment of Restoration Resource Allocation for the Eastern Monarch Butterfly, Frontiers in Environmental Science (2021). DOI: 10.3389/fenvs.2021.634096

Citation:
Saving the eastern monarch butterfly (2021, May 18)
retrieved 19 May 2021
from https://phys.org/news/2021-05-eastern-monarch-butterfly.html

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