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It may seem innocuous to flush a Q-tip down the toilet, but those bits of plastic have been washing up on beaches and pose a threat to the birds, turtles and marine life that call those beaches home. The scourge of plastic "nurdles," as they are called, has pushed Scotland to implement a complete ban on the sale and manufacture of plastic-stemmed cotton swabs, as the BBC reported.

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Some of the products made by FTSE 100 company Unilever. Nick Potts / PA Images via Getty Images

Unilever, the company that makes Ben & Jerry's and Dove, vowed Monday to halve its use of new plastic by 2025. That would mean reducing the around 700,000 tonnes (approximately 772,000 tons) it used in 2018 to no more than 350,000 tonnes (approximately 386,000 tons) a year starting in 2025, CNN reported.

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EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Petrochemical facilities in the Houston ship channel. Roy Luck / CC BY 2.0

By Tara Lohan

Prigi Arisandi, who founded the environmental group Ecological Observation and Wetlands Conservation, picks through a heap of worn plastic packaging in Mojokerto, Indonesia. Reading the labels, he calls out where the trash originated: the United States, Australia, New Zealand, United Kingdom, Canada. The logos range from Nestlé to Bob's Red Mill, Starbucks to Dunkin Donuts.

The trash of rich nations has become the burden of poorer countries.

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Ocean Cleanup's System 001 is towed out of the San Francisco Bay in San Francisco, California on Sept. 8, 2018. Ray Chavez / Digital First Media / East Bay Times via Getty Images

An enormous floating device designed by Dutch scientists for the non-profit Ocean Cleanup successfully captured and removed plastic from the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, the company announced Wednesday, as CNN reported.

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A plastic bag sticks to a wire fence in a remote location in the Mourne Mountains, co Down, Northern Ireland. Dave G Kelly / Moment / Getty Images

Ireland is ready to say goodbye to plastic cutlery, plastic balloon sticks and grocery items wrapped in plastic as a way to drastically reduce the amount of waste in Irish landfills, according to the Ireland's national broadcaster, RTE.

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Discarded and polluting plastic garbage on sand collected from beach in North East England, UK. Monty Rakusen / Cultura / Getty Images

When future archaeologists attempt to dig below the earth's surface to understand contemporary civilization, they will likely find one ubiquitous substance: plastic.

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Man lying on plastic infested coast of Villa El Salvador near Lima, Peru in May. Jordan Beltran / Unsplash

The government of India is set to impose a nationwide ban on plastic bags, cups and straws on October 2, officials announced, in its most sweeping measure yet to eradicate single-use plastics from cities and villages that have ranked among the world's most polluted.

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Assorted plastic bottles. mali maeder / Pexels

California ended its 2019 legislative session Saturday without passing two bills that would have led the nation in tackling plastic pollution, The Mercury News reported.

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Small plastic toiletry bottles sit in a bathroom in a room at a hotel operated by Marriott on Aug. 28 in New Orleans. Drew Angerer / Getty Images

Marriott, the world's largest hotel chain, will stop using plastic mini-toiletry bottles in all of its 7,000 properties by December 2020, The Washington Post reported.

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This picture taken on May 23 shows Marium swimming in the waters in southern Thailand. SIRACHAI ARUNRUGSTICHAI / AFP / Getty Images

Marium, an 8-month-old dugong who became an internet sensation in Thailand this spring, died after ingesting plastic, officials announced Saturday.

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picture-alliance / dpa / J. Woitas

German Environment Minister Svenja Schulze has said she plans to introduce a law to ban the use of plastic bags.

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"This is a sad reminder that we all need to do our part to keep our oceans plastic free." City of Boca Raton / Gumbo Limbo Nature Center

A baby sea turtle that washed ashore in Boca Raton, Florida last week had 104 pieces of plastic in it stomach. The plastic products ranged from wrappers to balloons to bottle labels to twist ties used to cinch trash bags, as the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reported.

The Gumbo Limbo Nature Center in Boca Raton shared a photograph on Facebook of the turtle next to all the pieces of plastic that it had ingested.

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Left: Zach Gibson / Stringer / Getty Images, Right: shop.donaldjtrump.com / screenshot

Last week, EcoWatch reported that the campaign to re-elect President Donald Trump was selling packs of 10 plastic straws for $15. Commentators noted that the straws came with an unusually high price tag of $1.50 per pop, but apparently it was a price Trump supporters were willing to pay. The campaign has sold more than $456,000 worth since July 19, The Guardian reported.

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Shoppers push shopping carts towards a Sainsbury's supermarket on April 29, 2018 in London, England. Chris J Ratcliffe / Getty Images

Charging grocery shoppers a small fee for plastic bags works.

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Holiday Inn Express logo seen at the hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada. Ronen Tivony / SOPA Images / LightRocket / Getty Images

Could mini shampoo bottles be the next target in the war on plastic pollution?

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Pexels

From Arctic snow to the deep sea, microplastics have been found in some unusual places. Now, it turns out they could be lurking at the bottom of your cup of tea!

McGill University chemical engineering professor Nathalie Tufenkji decided to test tea bags after she was given one in a Montreal cafe that looked like it was made from plastic.

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The green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas) on Hikkaduwa coral reef, Sri Lanka. danilovi / E+ / Getty Images

Endangered green turtles are having a problem. They're mistaking plastic pollution for the seaweed they survive on, according to new research from the University of Exeter in the UK and the Society for the Protection of Turtles in Cyprus, as Newsweek reported.

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A woman feeds deer in Nara, Japan. Drazen_ / iStock / Getty Images Plus

The global plastic crisis has invaded a sacred sanctuary in Japan. Nine deer in Nara Park that have died since March were revealed to have massive amounts of plastic bags and food wrappers in their digestive tract.

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Photobos / iStock / Getty Images

Governors in Vermont and Maine signed bills on Monday that will ban plastic bags in their states next year, The Hill reported.

The Maine ban will go into effect next Earth Day, April 22, 2020. The Vermont ban, which extends beyond plastic bags and is the most comprehensive plastics ban so far, will go into effect in July 2020. The wait time is designed to give businesses time to adjust to the ban.

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