Top Stories

April 08, 2022


Study finds microplastics in almost 90% of leading cosmetics products

New research by plastic waste NGO The Plastic Soup Foundation has found that 87% of consumer goods products contain synthetic polymer particles, or microplastics. The research assessed over 7,700 products from household cosmetics brands, manufactured by four major firms – L’Oréal, Beiersdorf, Proctor & Gamble and Unilever. Little is known about the effects of synthetic microplastics on human health, nor their biodegradability on the environment. Given the prevalence of microplastics discovered in its study, the Plastic Soup Foundation has called for all synthetic polymers to be examined for their potential harm. The NGO also raised concerns that proposed EU restrictions on the addition of microplastics to products such as cosmetics, detergents and pesticides, could prove too weak and ineffective to tackle the problem. (Business Green)*


Countries that sanctioned Myanmar’s military, increase timber imports

Myanmar’s military regime exported over $190 million worth of timber in 2021, according to a report by ecosystem stewardship NGO Forest Trends. The report investigates the impact of sanctions imposed on the state-owned Myanma Timber Enterprise (MTE), which provides a key source of income for the military regime. Following the February 2021 coup and violent crackdowns on citizens, Canada, the EU, UK, USA and Switzerland all placed sanctions on junta leaders and military-run enterprises aiming to curb the regime’s access to natural resource revenues. Findings show that $37 million of Myanmar’s total $190 million timber exports in 2021 went to jurisdictions with active sanctions on MTE, including $22 million to EU states. The report states that sanctions are circumvented by companies buying timber from private brokers instead of directly from MTE. (Eco-Business)


Meta targets new revenues with digital tokens and non-fungible tokens

Technology conglomerate Meta has drawn up plans to introduce virtual coins, tokens and lending services to its apps, according to insider reports. The company is seeking alternative revenue streams and new features to attract and retain users, as popularity falls for its main social networking products such as Facebook and Instagram. Meta’s financial arm, Meta Financial Technologies, has been looking towards virtual currency for its “metaverse”, which employees internally have dubbed “Zuck Bucks”. Rather than a cryptocurrency based on blockchain, Meta is considering introducing centrally-controlled in-app tokens. The company is also looking to create “social tokens” which could reward users for meaningful contributions, and “creator coins” that might be associated with influencers on Instagram. Additionally, CEO Mark Zuckerberg confirmed that Instagram would soon start to support non-fungible tokens. (Financial Times)*


Pinterest bans posting of false and misleading climate-related content

Image sharing service Pinterest is to remove content that “denies the existence or impacts of climate change, the human influence on climate change, or that climate change is backed by scientific consensus”. False or misleading information about climate solutions, and content that misrepresents data and reports from climate scientists will also be removed. Additionally, “harmful” false or misleading content around natural disasters and extreme weather events will no longer be allowed on Pinterest. The rules will apply to advertisements and to content that users post on personal accounts. Pinterest is using learnings from its bans on political advertisements, weight-loss advertisements, and health misinformation to enact climate misinformation rules. The platform has more than 431 million monthly active users. Pinterest will collaborate with the Climate Disinformation Coalition to deliver its policies. (edie)


West Africa is facing its worst food crisis in a decade, aid groups warn

An estimated 27 million people in West Africa are suffering from hunger, marking the region’s worst food crisis in a decade. Separate findings published by 11 international organisations including Oxfam, ALIMA and Save the Children warned the figure could rise to 38 million in June 2022. Since 2015, the number of people in need of emergency food assistance in the West Africa region has nearly quadrupled, jumping from 7 million to 27 million. The United Nations has estimated that 6.3 million children aged 6-59 months will be acutely malnourished in 2022, a 30% increase from 2021. The crisis is being compounded by the war in Ukraine, expected to reduce the availability of wheat in West Africa which imports between 33-50% of consumption volumes from conflicting countries. (Al Jazeera)

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