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This project is supported by the Ministry of the Environnement, Climate and Sustainable Development

The current era is decidedly marked by Man’s footprint and humanity’s dangerous immersion into the age of plastic. The result: A world of plastic coupled with a culture of expendability. Some people have already named it the Plasticene era, one of the components of the Anthropocene. Plastic, a wonderful human invention that has made our daily lives much easier, is proving to be a time bomb. Its exponential production leads to fields and continents of waste. What's worse, over time, molecules break down into tiny particles that spread in the air we breathe, the food we eat, and the water we drink.

An exhibition brought to you by IMS in collaboration with the Plastic Pollution Coalition with the support of the Ministry of the Environment, Climate and Sustainable Development, as a part of the project “REUSE”.

When we bring these colossal impacts back to the ephemeral use (often only a few minutes) we make of these single-use plastics, it necessarily raises questions.

The Plastic Pollution Coalition is a growing global alliance of individuals, organizations, businesses, and policymakers working toward a world free of plastic pollution and its toxic impacts on humans, animals, waterways, oceans and the environment. More info: Plastic Pollution CoalitionPlastic Pollution Coalition is a growing global alliance of individuals, organizations, businesses, and policymakers working toward a world free of...Plastic Pollution Coalition



When it goes viral

By now, you’ve seen it. That viral photo-taken by photographer and naturalist Justin Hofman depicts a seahorse in the ocean near Sumbawa Island, Indonesia, clinging to a bright pink plastic cotton swab. The photo has been shared tens of thousands of times across social media channels and has been featured in news outlets worldwide.This photo is now exhibited at the London Museum of Natural History after Hofman made it as finalist of the Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition. It has also been published in National Geographic.

It’s a photo that I wish didn’t exist but, now that it does, I want everyone to see it. What started as an opportunity to photograph a cute little sea horse turned into one of frustration and sadness as the incoming tide brought with it countless pieces of trash and sewage. This sea horse drifts long with the trash day in and day out as it rides the currents that flow along the Indonesian archipelago. This photo serves as an allegory for the current and future state of our oceans. What sort of future are we creating? How can your actions shape our planet?

"Sewage Surfer" - Photo credit: Justin Hofman

Justin Hofman Instagram account, 12.09.2017




Plastic debris reach as far as the Arctic, where 1 liter of water can contain up to 12,000 microplastic particles.According to the latest Onalytic’s ranking on tackling plastic pollution, Lewis ranks in third place right after Erik Solheim and Devendra Fadnavis. The endurance swimmer and UN Patron of the Oceans pursues his efforts to protect our marine ecosystems around the world.

I’ve seen plastic in the Arctic, in the Antarctic, and everywhere in between. I’ve seen it floating far out at sea and deep underwater. It’s everywhere. There is now no place in the oceans without plastic pollution. And it is having a devastating effect on marine wildlife.We are now finding micro-plastics in the smallest creatures on Earth, and the largest: from zooplankton all the way up to blue whales. We are all becoming plastic. Plastic is destroying our oceans, and there’s only one thing that can stop it: YOU.Every purchase you make is a decision about the kind of planet you want to live on.

“If a country like this decides to become a leader in sustainability, it can literally lead the way in the world ”

Lewis Pugh’s message

Lewis Pugh, Partners Against Plastic,


A recent study shows that 8.3 billion tons of plastic were produced around the world between 1950 and 2015. 12% have been incinerated (with or without energy recovery), only 9% have been recycled, out of which only 10% have been recycled more than once. The rest (i.e., 79%) is currently accumulated in sanitary landfills or left uncontained in open dumps or the natural environment. Plastic is a material made to last forever, yet 33% of all plastic - water bottles, bags, and straws - are used just once and thrown away. Plastic cannot biodegrade; it breaks down into smaller and smaller pieces.


Production, use, and fate of all plastics ever made.Roland Geyer, Jenna R. Jambeck and Kara Lavender Law

Did you know?







Plastic contributes to global warming throughout its lifecycle. It is first manufactured from petrol obtained through a very polluting process. The petrochemical sector, continually expanding, is already responsible for over a third of all greenhouse gas emissions. According to the International Energy Agency, petrochemistry is the main factor of growth for oil demand. It will account for a third of the demand by 2030 and almost half by 2050. After use, waste is usually transported to developing countries and, when possible, recycled, causing further greenhouse emissions. When this waste is not collected but thrown out in nature, they emit methane after prolonged exposition to the sun. The European Commission estimated that plastic waste production and incineration give rise globally to approximately 400 million tons of CO2 a year. They also consider that recycling 1 million tons of plastic would be the equivalent of taking 1 million cars off the road.



Chemicals present in plastics to give them rigidity or flexibility (flame retardants, bisphenols, phthalates, and other harmful chemicals) are oily poisons that repel water and stick to petroleum-based objects like plastic debris. So, the toxic chemicals that leach out of plastics can accumulate on other plastics. This is a serious concern with increasing amounts of plastic waste accumulating in the world’s oceans. Fish, exposed to a mixture of polyethylene with chemical pollutants absorbed from the marine environment, bioaccumulate these chemical pollutants and suffer liver toxicity and pathology.

Rochman, Chelsea "Ingested Plastic Transfers Hazardous Chemicals to Fish and Induces Hepatic Stress" Scientific Reports 2013

Find out more about the chemicals that are contained in plastic products


There are thousands of landfills in the world. Buried beneath each of them, toxic chemicals from plastics drain out and seep into groundwater flowing downstream into lakes and rivers. For example, one cigarette butt can pollute up to 500 liters of water. It contains up to 2,500 chemical components, including soluble heavy metals. Furthermore, cigarette butts are not biodegradable and can take up to 5 years to degrade. The World Health Organisation reports that around 680 million kilograms of tobacco waste litter the world each year. There are long-term risks of contamination of soils and groundwater by some additives and breakdown by-products in plastics, which can become persistent organic pollutants.

Hopewell, Jefferson; Dvorak, Robert; Kosior, Edward. "Plastics Recycling: Challenges and Opportunities", Biological Sciences 14 June 2009

Babies are born pre-polluted

As scary as it sounds, babies are born with an average of 200 chemicals in their bodies, transmitted through their mother. Among them, one can find several microplastics, but also bisphenol A, known to be cancerous, and which can be found in several plastic bottles and food containers. Babies and toddlers are especially vulnerable to this pollution as they spend the first few years of their lives on all fours on synthetic surfaces rich in microplastics. Moreover, Short Chain Chlorinated Paraffins (SCCPs) above permitted levels have been found in children’s products such as toys, stickers, clothing, sports gears, childcare articles, and kitchen utensils.

Plastic Pollution Coalition/Center for International Environmental Law, Plastic & Health: The Hidden Costs of a Plastic Planet (February 2019)

Worldwide, various sectors are suffering from plastic pollution: health, fisheries and aquaculture, recreational activities and tourism, business and wildlife... The Marine Pollution Bulletin estimates that plastic pollution's annual cost amounts to $2.5bn (€2.2bn) a year. Plastic waste is also believed to cost up to $33,000 per ton in reduced environmental value, the study found. On a European scale, the costs of environmental damage are estimated at €22 billion by 2030. Furthermore, the EU spends €630 million every year on cleaning beaches and shores. On the other hand, the latest EU directive on single-use plastic is supposed to help consumers save up to €10 billion. According to a 2016 study mandated by the Ministry of Environment, littering along state roads in Luxembourg costs the National Roads Administration about €1.2 million per year to clean.

Plastic costs billions to curtail






We use the term plastiglomerate to describe an indurated, multi-composite material made hard by agglutination of rock and molten plastic. This material is subdivided into an in situ type, in which plastic is adhered to rock outcrops, and a clastic type, in which combinations of basalt, coral, shells, and local woody debris are cemented with grains of sand in a plastic matrix.

An anthropogenic marker horizon in the future rock record, Patricia L. Corcoran, Charles J. Moore, Kelly Jazvac

Plastiglomerates - Photo credit: Jeff Elstone

get a closer look!

In 2006, oceanographer Charles J. Moore, who was the first man to sound the alarm about the Great Pacific garbage patch, discovered curious stones that seemed to contain plastic debris in Hawaii. In 2012, he was joined by Patricia Corcoran and Kelly Jazvac to study these enigmatic rocks. This is how the term “Plastiglomerate” came to life.These stones might be used as a marker horizon, as they could turn out to be future fossils to characterise our epoch.



These plastiglomerate fragments were formed anthropogenically. (…) In this regard, Kamilo Beach provides an example of an anthropogenic action (burning) reacting to an anthropogenic problem (plastics pollution), resulting in a distinct marker horizon of the informal Anthropocene epoch. Although campfire burning is responsible for the plastiglomerate on Kamilo Beach, it is conceivable that the global extent of plastic debris could lead to similar deposits where lava flows, forest fires, and extreme temperatures occur.

An anthropogenic marker horizon in the future rock record, Patricia L. Corcoran, Charles J. Moore, Kelly Jazvac


The equivalent of 1 garbage truck is dumped into the ocean every minute.

The pollution is such that we are now talking about a 7th continent. This name refers to the Great Pacific garbage patch, the largest accumulation of plastic waste located between Hawaii and California. Four other gyres have also formed, as every ocean is contaminated. The Great Pacific Garbage Patch covers an estimated surface of 1.6 million square kilometers, representing three times the size of France. The Ocean Clean Up estimates that there are more than 1.8 trillion pieces of plastic in the patch. This amount of garbage represents an estimated weight of 80,000 tonnes. Disposable plastic waste currently represents over 70% of all ocean pollution.

6 to 8.5 million tons of plastics are discharged into the oceans each year. At this frantic rate, by 2050, the seas will contain more plastic mass than fish.


Animals get entangled in plastic. They also happen to mistake it for food and eat it or feed it to their babies. Moreover, plastic is found littered in even extremely remote areas of Earth. In our oceans alone, plastic debris outweigh zooplankton by a ratio of 36-to-1. At least 267 species worldwide, including 44% of seabirds, 43% of marine mammals, and 86% of turtles as well as a breadth of fish species are affected by marine litter. The presence of this trash results in fatalities arising from the ingestion of microplastics and plastic waste that are leading to states of starvation and malnutrition, infection, drowning, and suffocation but also entanglement due to fishing gear. End of March 2019, a pregnant whale washed up dead on Sardinia's shores in Italy. The animal had ingested about 22kg of plastic, leading to its death. The baby had already died long ago. The objects found in the whale stomach included plastic plates, plastic bags and fishing nets, along with plastic packaging. Earlier in the month, a whale also washed up dead in the Philippines due to a gastric shock following the ingestion of over 40kg of plastic bags.

PlastiC pollutionIs an environmentalAND SOCIAL JUSTICE ISSUE

Absurd amounts of plastic pollution keep parts of the population from living in decent conditions. It can also play a role in the spread of infectious diseases and contributes to flooding.


Discover the life of Yi-Jie in the movie

Plastic China

Plastic waste often ends up in developing countries for recycling. However, these lack proper infrastructure and are drowning under plastic waste. The five most polluted rivers are indeed located in Asia and Africa. Sadly, in low-income regions, domestic waste – including plastics – is often burnt for heating and/or cooking purposes, exposing predominantly women and children to prolonged toxic emissions. Burning plastic debris in an open environment can cause neurological symptoms, cancer, and hormonal disruptions in humans.

In a recent study, the Center for International Environmental Law states:



Incineration, co-incineration, gasification, and pyrolysis result in the release of toxic metals such as lead and mercury, organic substances (dioxins and furans), acid gases, and other toxic substances to the air, water, and soils. All such technologies lead to direct and indirect exposure to toxic substances for workers and nearby communities, including through inhalation of contaminated air, direct contact with contaminated soil or water, and ingestion of foods that were grown in an environment polluted with these substances.

Plastic & Health: The Hidden Costs of a Plastic Planet



Disposed plastic materials can remain in the environment for up to 2,000 years and longer. Once exposed to the elements of nature, plastics break down into small fragments. To this day, it is estimated that there are 500 times more microplastic particles in the ocean than there are stars in the galaxy. These microplastic residues are however impossible to collect. Recycling alone cannot address the issue, and it is crucial to question our consumption habits. The greatest sources of these particles turn out to be car tyres, but also laundry processes and the degradation of plastic waste in our oceans. Another unsuspected source of microplastic: the greater share of products lining our bathroom shelves. Our shower gels, shampoos, deodorants, and even more so, our cosmetic products contain them. We are confronted to them daily. And this poses a major public health issue.

Of TapWater

Did you know?









IT is in the Food we eat and in the water we drink

Microplastics are ingested by planktons, mussels, fishes… and hence end up across our food chain and onto our plates. A study by the University of Ghent exposed the existence of 300 microparticles of plastic per portion of 300 grams of mussels. The use of plastic products leads to the ingestion and/or inhalation of large amounts of microplastic particles and hundreds of toxic substances with carcinogenic, developmental, or endocrine-disrupting impacts. Lately, a study focusing on microplastics stood out from all the others and gathered significant attention. It affirms that these minuscules fragments of plastic can be found across the food chain all the way to human stools. Microfibers and other plastic microparticles are increasingly being documented in human tissues. Until these impacts are better understood, we should adopt a precautionary approach.

Of Bottled Water

In September 2018, on the occasion of the annual dinner of the Luxembourg CEO Sustainability Club, IMS called on the leaders to sign the Zero Single-Use Plastic manifesto. The objective is simple: to eliminate single-use plastic from companies by the end of 2020. During the two years of the project, 74 organisations have signed the Manifesto, representing around 40,000 employees, or about 9.13% of the Luxembourg payroll. Today, through the Reuse project, IMS Luxembourg wants to broaden its efforts for the elimination of single-use plastics by sharing the resources and learnings of the Zero Single Use Plastic Manifesto.


This project is supported by the Ministry of the Environnement, Climate and Sustainable Development



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