plastic

Great Lakes pollutant lurks in your laundry

Jan 2, 2017
Gino Geruntino / WRVO

The United States and Canada are moving to ban microbeads -- the tiny plastic bits in toothpaste and facewash that are big water polluters. Now scientists are focusing on a similar problem -- and it’s lurking in your laundry hamper.

When you do laundry, take a look at the tags on your clothes. You’ll find that most shirts and pants have some synthetic material -- like polyester, nylon or spandex. Every time you wash them, tiny plastic fibers go down the drain.

Elizabeth Miller / Great Lakes Today

A new study from Rochester Institute of Technology in New York tracks how much plastic is getting into the Great Lakes, and where it's going.

Matthew Hoffman, an assistant professor who is part of the research team, says about 10,000 metric tons of plastic is getting into the lakes every year. In Lake Ontario alone, he says, "it's the equivalent of 28 Olympic-sized swimming pools filled with empty plastic bottles."

Ellen Abbott/WRVO

Madison County hopes to become a hub for the recycling of agricultural plastics.  It's a waste that's created on farms that's been a problem for years.

Voyage studying plastic in Great Lakes sets sail

Jul 13, 2012
Daniel Robison / Innovation Trail/WBFO

Until now, scientists could only guess at the amount of plastic waste in the Great Lakes.

This week, a team of researchers sets sail to conduct the first-ever survey of plastic pollution in the world’s largest fresh water system.

“You really have to start with, ‘Is this even an issue in the Great Lakes?  [With] 35 million people living around the Great Lakes, all the plastic you see blowing around, common sense is that it’s out there,” says Sherri “Sam” Mason, professor within SUNY Fredonia’s Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry.