Environmental Pollution Is Deadlier Than Smoking, War, AIDS or Hunger, Experts Find

iStock
iStock

In 1970, Congress pushed forward the Clean Air Act, which took aggressive steps to monitor and control pollutants in the environment via federal regulations. Over the years, people living in the United States have been exposed to considerably fewer contaminants such as lead and carbon monoxide.

But as a new study in the Lancet medical journal points out, pollution continues to be a global crisis, and one that might carry a far more devastating mortality rate than previously believed. Analyzing the complete picture of contaminated regions around the globe, study authors believe pollution killed 9 million people in 2015—more than smoking, AIDS, war, or deaths from hunger.

The study’s authors aggregated premature deaths on a global basis that were attributable to pollution, singling out certain regions that continue to struggle with high concentrations of toxic materials. In India, one in four premature deaths (2.5 million) was related to environmental contamination. In China, 1.8 million people died due to illnesses connected to poor air quality.

A lack of regulatory oversight in these areas is largely to blame. Dirty fossil fuels, crop burning, and burning garbage plague India; industrial growth in other locations often leads to pollution that isn’t being monitored or controlled. Roughly 92 percent of deaths as a result of poor environmental conditions are in low- or middle-income countries [PDF].

The study also notes that the 9 million estimate is conservative and likely to rise as new methods of connecting pollution-related illness with mortality in a given area are discovered. It’s hoped that increased awareness of the problem and highlighting the economic benefits of a healthier population (lower health care costs, for one) will encourage governments to take proactive measures.

[h/t Phys.org]

Canned Aquafina Water May Be Coming to a Store Near You

Justin Sullivan, Getty Images
Justin Sullivan, Getty Images

Like boxed cereal and egg cartons, bottled water is one of the most pervasive and familiar examples of consumer packaging around. But PepsiCo, which produces the LIFEWTR and Aquafina water brands, is looking to change that. The company recently announced a new strategy that would reduce its use of plastics and ultimately wean consumers off bottles entirely, turning them on to sipping water from aluminum cans instead.

According to The Takeout, Pepsi says it plans to change how its water is packaged in significant ways begining in 2020. The LIFEWTR brand will use plastic bottles, but the company plans to source those containers from 100 percent rPET, or recycled polyethylene terephthalate. Its bubly sparkling water line, meanwhile, will be sold in cans, rather than in both bottles and cans, as it currently is. So will Aquafina, one of the leading bottled water brands, though it will initially be offered in cans only at food service establishments while the company tests retail preferences. If all goes well, retail consumers will eventually be able to buy Aquafina in cans, too.

Such alterations would make for sweeping changes to the bottled water business, which has exploded in recent years. In 2016, the average American drank 39.3 gallons of packaged water per capita, edging out soda’s 38.5 gallons.

The move to cans stems in large part from consumer habits. Over half of all beer and soda cans are recycled compared to just 31.2 percent of plastic bottles.

PepsiCo expects the changes will result in saving more than 8800 tons of virgin plastic and 12,125 tons of greenhouse gas emissions. The company is looking to make all of its packaging recyclable, compostable, or biodegradable by 2025.

[h/t The Takeout]

Nestlé Has Created a Recyclable Snack Bar Wrapper

p_saranya, iStock / Getty Images Plus
p_saranya, iStock / Getty Images Plus

With the effects of climate change getting more dire by the decade, the pressure is on to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in any way that we can. One of the easiest ways for consumers to take action is by recycling. Nestlé is the latest corporation to do its part in making that task a little easier: It recently announced that it will start packaging its line of YES! snack bars in a recyclable paper wrapper, Food & Wine reports.

Since Nestlé’s high-speed production lines mainly package products with plastic or thick laminate materials, the UK masterminds behind this new wrapper had to first create a paper that was sturdy enough to survive the packaging process, and then alter the machinery to function with a gentler touch. To highlight this change, the YES! bar wrappers include a line that says “carefully wrapped in paper,” according to Confectionery News. The developers also tested the new wrappers extensively to ensure that they would keep the bars in perfect condition through shipping and storage. The paper itself is sourced from sustainable forests that have been certified by the Forest Stewardship Council or the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification.

If you haven’t seen a YES! bar before, it might be because you live in the U.S. These Nestlé treats are currently available only in Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Ireland, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain, and the United Kingdom.

But Nestlé’s commitment to recycling reaches a brand you probably have seen in the U.S.: Poland Spring. Just last month, Food & Wine reported that Nestlé (which owns Poland Spring, as well as a whole slew of other popular brands you may not have realized) was making a shift to using recycled plastic for its Poland Spring bottles, and hopes to be using 100 percent recycled plastic for all of its still water bottles by 2022.

Nestlé isn’t the only corporation to make headlines lately with its environmentally friendly packaging innovations. Just a few weeks ago, Corona announced its plans for stackable beer cans, eliminating the need for those pesky plastic rings that can prove fatal to unsuspecting ocean-dwellers like turtles.

And, because recycling isn’t all about food and drink containers, here are 25 surprising things you didn’t know you could recycle.

[h/t Food & Wine]

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER