From building materials to food storage, and from packaging to clothing, plastic has become an almost ubiquitous part of modern life. Here’s a better option: Buy your own glass or stainless steel water bottle and bring it with you everywhere you go. I tend to think that the plastic pollution problem could be solved in large part by looking to the past as a model and shopping/cooking the way our grandparents did. Because straws are so lightweight, they frequently get sorted out during the recycling process and end up in waterways. After all, straws only make up an estimated less than 10% of the nine million tons of plastic pollution that gets into the world’s oceans annually. A 2016 report from the World Economic Forum. In response to growing public outcry, some companies are starting to willingly cut back or eliminate single-use plastics, particularly straws: In recent years, much of the outcry around plastic has focused on single-use bags and straws, without as much focus on other plastic items like packaging materials and food containers. It means changing our everyday behaviors an not using plastic when there is a better alternative to it and only using plastic when strictly necessary. The government has made some encouraging pledges to act on things like cotton buds and straws. The reality is that while straw bans won’t nearly solve the whole problem, they’ll make a dent in it, while also helping educate billions of consumers. The next time you’re asked, “Paper or plastic?,” you can say: “Neither! Though the first plastics were once natural products (used as far back as 3,500 years ago), almost all plastics today are man-made and derived from fossil fuels, including crude oil and natural gas. Carry a reusable bottle... 3. Such a technology would give value to plastic waste that's already in the environment and create incentives to collect it. Another significant health issue involves the direct ingestion of plastic by consumers, thanks to the quantity of plastic now adrift in the ocean. Participate in a Beach or River Cleanup. and receive the Top 10 Foods To Eat And Avoid For Longevity infographic poster! The resource depletion/plastic pollution problem may be partly mitigated via the reuse economy, which involves some degree of reusing or repurposing of items, although non-recyclable waste is still generated, while the circular economy aims to avoid the production of waste altogether, with maximum recycling as an essential component, being modelled on the way natural systems operate, … Bring your own reusable coffee cup when going out to get beverages. Before synthetic plastics took over, products were usually packaged with natural materials, such as wood, glass, metal, or paper. Your email address will NEVER be shared or sold. Ocean Plastic Pollution Will Triple by 2040 Without Drastic Action. Start by using our plastic calculator to track how much you use — then you can take steps to reduce your use and waste. To check the status of plastic bags in your city, visit, Bag the Ban’s plastic bag legislation map, How to Lower High Blood Pressure Quickly and for the Rest of Your Life Using Amazingly Effective Diet and Lifestyle Changes, Not All Protein Is Equal: A Doctor Explains Why You Should Choose Plant Protein Over Animal Protein for Better Heart Health and Longevity, Practicing Gratitude on Thanksgiving is a Powerful Action for Health & Happiness. You can watch the video here. Can making cleanliness personal help solve our garbage problem? These plastics – which include straws, water bottles, shopping bags, utensils, plastic-lined coffee cups, and food packaging – are used only once before being discarded. If you start reusing glass jars from sauces and other store-bought items, you’ll have a big collection of containers in no time. Plastic pollution, including tiny bits known as microplastic, permeate the environment, posing a threat to human and planetary health. When BPA is used in food or beverage containers, not all of the chemical gets sealed into the product. Bring glass jars (pre-weighed so you don’t have to pay for the glass at checkout) or reused plastic bags from home and get exactly as much as you need. Plastic is choking the ocean. Instead of plastic packaging, use glass jars and other containers to store your food. Scientists have also created new forms of plastics made from renewable materials — known as biopolymers or bioplastics. Wherever you live, the easiest and most direct way that you … Unfortunately, few people were thinking of the long-term consequences of creating so much trash, or how plastic might affect the human body. Drinking water is wonderful, but it produces a lot of waste if you’re opting for bottled water. To convert these plastics into oil, PK Clean first shreds them. Cleaning up our act. The hardest place for us to ditch plastic is in the freezer. Editor’s Note: Unfortunately, due to COVID-19, some cities have temporarily suspended their plastic bag bans or fees. Two products have been the focus of most of these bans: plastic bags and plastic straws. Straws are the latest plastic product to receive negative attention. Second, governments need to improve garbage collection and recycling systems to minimize the amount of waste that leaks into the environment when moving between trash can and landfill, and to improve recycling rates. Katherine Martinko is a writer and expert in sustainable living. From banning plastic straws to rebooting recycling systems to harnessing plastic-munching bacteria, there is no shortage of touted solutions. This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged. She holds a degree in English Literature and History from the University of Toronto. Find out about the tap water quality in your city. If you purchase products from one of these partners, FRN may at times receive a portion of the proceeds. Finally, scientists need to "devise ways to break plastic down into its most basic units, which can be rebuilt into new plastics or other materials." "The Plastic Problem" examines how our global dependency on plastic has created one of the biggest environmental threats to our planet. Plus, it presents ideas for reducing plastic waste when you’re out and about, or at home, and ways you can help solve the plastic problem, right now. In support of our educational mission, we sometimes share resources offered by trusted partners. And it seems likely that most BPA-free plastics offer little, if any, improvement. Then in 2016, the entire state of California followed suit. The plastics pollution problem is often portrayed through the lens of environmental activists, who are alarmed by the amount of contamination and want everyone to give up single-use plastics. (Warning: Video contains adult language.). A 2015 study published in the journal IOPScience estimated that in 2014, the number of microplastics in the ocean ranged from 15 to 51 trillion pieces, weighing between 93,000 and 236,000 metric tons. Nevertheless, it is intriguing to hear about how others believe the future lies in technology, and good to know that such inventions are in the works. Waste Plastic is plaguing our oceans and marine life. Six months ago the folks at Target asked us to solve two problems. To solve this problem, I believe that the best solution is to use biodegradable plastic bags. But unless you’re Superman and have X-ray vision, you can’t see through these, which is why I prefer glass at home because it helps to keep the fridge organized so you can see your food. Everyone agrees something must be done. These affiliations support our work and allow us to continue bringing you valuable, life-changing content. Wean yourself off disposable plastics.. Ninety percent of the plastic items in our daily lives are used once and then... 2. We now have the knowledge, and the resources, to move beyond disposable and food storage plastic in our everyday lives. What's Happening to All the "Recycled" Waste Now That It's Not Shipped to China? As an Amazon Associate FRN earns from qualifying purchases. About eight million tonnes of it ends up in the ocean every year, and t he Great Pacific Garbage Patch covers an estimated area the size of Queensland. Most ends up in a landfill. Now, we store most of our food in glass containers that come with clear snap-on plastic lids. Fish and other invertebrates are eating microplastics (broken down pieces of plastic less than five millimeters long) by the ton. After World War II, plastic became a popular material for everything from nylons to packaging to food wrap. By entering your information here, you are agreeing to receive messages from Food Revolution Network. Andrew Dove, a chemist at the University of Birmingham, said, "If we can create something high-value from cheap plastic waste, there might be an economic argument to go and dredge this out of the ocean. The shreds are then entered into a reactor — which runs at about 400 degrees Celsius — where a catalyst helps degrade the plastics’ long carbon chains. And many of us look for more sustainable alternatives. We're at a point where any kind of effort, be it high-tech or old-fashioned, can play a role and make a difference. © K Martinko – This brilliant water bottle filling station shows up at every event in my Ontario town. An example of better design can be seen in Japan, where "all polyethylene terephthalate (PET), used in plastic bottles, is transparent. And storing food and water in plastic can wreak havoc on your health. We ordered glass and stainless-steel ones, and I’m glad we did. Here are our full terms & conditions. But have you ever stopped to wonder what materials scientists, the professionals who handle plastics in a laboratory on a daily basis, think about the whole mess we're in? … Here are some ideas for helping solve the plastic problem by cutting back on single-use plastic: If you live in a place where grocery stores still give out plastic bags, it’s easy to fall back into using them — or to opt for paper, which has its own environmental problems. Whenever you do end up with plastic or paper bags, reuse them as much as possible. But disposable plastic is creating a nightmare for the planet. But to tackle all the many sources of plastic pollution, we need legislation that commits the government to phasing it out. This produces a vapor that runs through a condenser, where it’s made into oil. A three-part solution is needed, they say, but we're on the right track so far. In total, more than 60 countries have enacted plastic bans and/or fees in order to cut down on plastic waste, and many more are likely to follow soon. Other countries have also begun to ban plastics, and some impose stiff fines or penalties. Most consumers are aware of the problems with pollution that plastic bags cause. It is also known that each year, people throw away 4 billion plastic bags. Many stores have significant bulk buying departments, where you can stock up on flour, legumes, nuts, seeds, seasonings, dried fruit, and all kinds of other ingredients — often for a sizable discount. Many still end up in landfills, and as more come on the market, there are issues with land use, proper disposal, and toxicity. All these facts together turn plastic bags into a serious threat. There are three ways to deal with plastic: recycling, incineration or dumping in the environment (either in landfills or haphazardly, when it becomes “pollution”). , have enacted fees for use of recycled paper or plastic bags. They’re labeled with numbered codes, helping you determine which kind of plastic you’re dealing with and if you can recycle it. Global production of plastic has been nearly doubling every decade. Pass up plastic bottles. You will receive up to one SMS message per week containing important updates. To make it easier, keep a few reusable bags in your car so they’ll always be handy when you need to stock your fridge. They wanted to solve the plastic bag problem and they wanted a new designer bag to … A circular economy for plastics. So by focusing on eliminating these items, we can start to chip away at the larger issue of single-use plastics. Though promising solutions are in development (such as bioplastic straws made from avocado and bioplastic coffee cups made from potato starch, corn starch, and cellulose — the main component of plant cell walls), they aren’t yet widely available. While bioplastics are typically considered more environmentally-friendly than traditional plastics, they aren’t a catch-all solution. Some of it leaches out — especially when exposed to heat or sunlight. In our home, if they aren’t too soiled, we rinse and air-dry our plastic, produce bags so we can reuse them when we go back to the store. And many cities, including. SLO active, a lifestyle brand that focuses on oceanwear and activism, created an extensive guide to plastic pollution in conjunction with marine biology experts. Take them to the store, collect recycling items in paper, or use old plastic bags for kitty litter or to line your trash bins. Reduce. Recycling rates could improve if packaging were designed more thoughtfully, with fewer chemical additives in the polymers. The article proposes some intriguing concepts, such as figuring out how to dismantle old plastics chemically, rather than grinding them up for recycling. Or are there better ways to tackle plastic pollution? According to this NIH-funded study, some BPA-free plastic products released synthetic estrogens that were even more potent than BPA. How to solve the plastic waste problem: Build a better plastic Worldwide, less than 10% of the plastic we use gets recycled. According to data in 2010, there are 270 million tons of plastic … Reuse. Boston, Portland, New York, and Seattle have also banned single-use plastic bags. Bioplastics are made from natural sources, including vegetable fats/oils, corn starch, straw, wood chips, and even food waste. Here is the real story: There is no island of trash (it’s more of a trashy soup), and the solution is to stop our trash – mostly made of plastic – from getting to the middle of the ocean. Can banning plastic bags and straws really help solve the waste problem? World production of plastic has increased exponentially over the decades. Healthy Starters and Appetizers for All Occasions, Safe and Healthy Cookware: What You Need To Know When Choosing Non-Toxic Pots & Pans, 7 Plant-Based Dinner Recipes That are Easy Enough for Beginners. Plastic is a modern wonder – lightweight, flexible, and tough – perfect for holding everything from carbonated drinks to frozen dinners to houseplants. And there’s no doubt that in some cases, it can be very useful. If you’re a fan of drinking beverages through a straw (or if you need to drink through a straw for health reasons), you can buy some stainless steel ones to carry with you. Bring your own reusable shopping and produce bags to markets, and avoid using single-use plastic bags. Plastic Bank: How to Solve the Plastic Pollution Problem and Poverty at the Same Time. At Food Revolution Network (FRN), our mission is healthy, ethical, sustainable food for all. Smaller fish, like sardines, eat this plastic, and then they’re eaten by larger fish. There are seven main types of plastic, each used for different purposes. Opt for cooking your own healthy food at home, instead. This is crucial now that China has closed its doors to plastic waste imports and many countries are trucking their recycling straight to landfill. Clear PET is much easier to recycle than when coloring is added in.". You can unsubscribe at any time by replying to a text with the word “Stop”. At first, that seemed like a good thing. And it’s usually bad for you, too. Our family used to love plastic food-storage containers, but recently we bit the bullet and threw out all but a few backup plastic containers. And many experts argue that banning bags and straws help consumers start small when it comes to cutting back. Instead of using plastic cutlery when you do eat out (or for your homemade lunch at work), buy a portable bamboo or stainless steel utensil kit. In this video we will at some of the solutions that we can adopt for saving our planet. The primary source of human exposure to BPA is through packaged foods and drinks. When you do decide to eat out, bring along a reusable container for leftovers. Sort Your Garbage Because the future of your health, and your world, will be impacted by the choices you make today. Get the facts, and find out how you can take action to solve the plastic problem and cut back on your use of single-use plastics. Avoid Using Bottled Water. At the same time, however, we need readily-available alternatives to support the move away from single-use plastics and establish new habits, i.e. Physically helping to remove plastic waste from a beach or the ocean or preventing it from reaching there in the first place by taking part in or organizing a cleanup of your local waterway or beach is one of the most direct and … Avoiding single-use plastic may mean having to change your lifestyle. Researchers are currently working on bioplastics that are compostable, degradable in water (should they end up in the ocean), and non-toxic. The guide shows the true impact of plastics on our oceans and sea life. Despite some progress, the boom in single-use plastic and an influx of new hikers are testing anti-littering efforts. This Accidental Discovery Could Help Solve Our Plastic Pollution Crisis, Plastic Bank: How to Solve the Plastic Pollution Problem and Poverty at the Same Time, Solutions for Single-Use Plastic Pollution Must Consider All Stakeholders, Scientists Accidentally Create Plastic-Eating Mutant Enzyme, Plastic Eating Microbes to the Rescue: Evolution May Be Finding a Solution to the Problem of Plastic Waste, How the Plastics Industry Is Hijacking the Circular Economy, 6 Most Common Sources of Plastic Pollution, Here's an Incredibly Simple Solution to Plastic Packaging Waste, California (And the Whole World) Needs to Get Over Recycling, Caterpillars That Eat Plastic Bags Discovered, Could Lead to Pollution Solution, Beverage Industry Needs to Tackle Plastic Problem Immediately, Common Caterpillar Found to Eat Plastic Shopping Bags, Thicker Bags Don't Solve the Plastics Problem, Holly Richards / USFWS Pacific Region – Marine debris found on Midway Atoll. Throwaway plastic was convenient, cheap, and human-made, and there was a seemingly endless supply. Many plastics, for example, contain a chemical called bisphenol A, or BPA. If you live in a place … – Keep Reusable Shopping Bags in Your Car, and Use Less Single-Use Plastic. And she joins me here now. water-filling stations throughout cities and signs in restaurants offering to fill bottles for free. The problem is that it takes centuries to degrade it. From bags to food containers to car parts, plastic is a significant part of our day-to-day lives. Solutions for Single-Use Plastic Pollution Must Consider All Stakeholders. Historians may one day look back at our era as the time of plastics. Unfortunately, the rate at which it is being produced and thrown away exceeds the rate at which it degrades significantly. 3. To efficiently reduce plastic pollution, there is an evident need of reducing our usage of plastic. But the truth is, every bit counts. But when the National Institutes of Health funded research on BPA-free plastics, researchers found that “almost all” commercially available plastics that were tested leached synthetic estrogens — even when the plastics weren’t exposed to conditions known to unlock potentially harmful chemicals, such as the heat of a microwave oven, the steam of a dishwasher, or the sun’s ultraviolet rays. Whatever systems and methods work for you, what matters most is that you take action. And what about plastic bans? Recycling is only ever going to be part of solving the problem of plastic waste. Why plastic is a problem? Stop buying water.. Each year, close to 20 billion plastic bottles are tossed in the trash. But environmental experts say that the problem isn’t in recycling, it’s in the use of plastic in the first place. Cut the plastic out of your work life – Purchase reusable drinking containers which you can use throughout the day – Use water dispensers at work and contribute to overcoming the 13 to 14 billion drinks containers a year that we consume (Greenpeace). For more information see our Privacy Policy. Most of the overpriced bottled water you buy is just … Eating fast food or takeout means creating a lot of waste. Infographic: 19 Foods You Can Regrow from Scraps, How to Wash Vegetables and Fruits to Remove Pesticides, Vinegar Facts: What is It — And How to Use it for Your Health. In 2007, San Francisco banned single-use plastic bags. As news started coming out about the dangers of BPA, many manufacturers began phasing this nasty chemical out of their products. Editor’s Note: Unfortunately, due to COVID-19, some cities have, their plastic bag bans or fees. Do they work? Reduce the use of plastics overall (by individuals, businesses and commercial and industrial organisations) – which will have a flow on effect of decreasing the per capita rate of plastic production, plastic waste, the need to manage plastic waste, and plastic pollution. Reduce Your Use of Single-Use Plastics. These additives make an item more flexible, durable, or colored, but make them harder to recycle. Some come with filters if you’re worried … The world has a plastic problem. BPA is a known hormone disruptor and strongly linked to a number of diseases, including obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, asthma, cancer, infertility, low sperm count, liver problems, and ADHD. These plastics might not solve our marine plastic pollution problem, but they are well suited to tackling another big environmental problem: food waste. It seems like plastic is almost everywhere. Biodegradable plastic bags … banned single-use plastic bags. What is Sulforaphane — And Why Is It so Good for You? A circular economy is a system where materials are used in multiple ways many times during their lifecycle, which has huge potential to reduce resources, litter and landfill. But it turns out to be hazardous to your health and your planet. As awareness about the many problems with plastic has spread, bans on single-use plastics are being put into place by companies, cities, and even whole countries. Invest in a refillable water bottle. We need government action. And many cities, including Boulder, Chicago, and Washington, DC, have enacted fees for use of recycled paper or plastic bags. How harmful is plastic? We still use plastic bags for freezing berries and some other foods — although we are experimenting with using glass and snap-on plastic lids when we freeze our own, and so far that is promising. 10 Ways to Reduce Plastic Pollution 1. To check the status of plastic bags in your city, visit Bag the Ban’s plastic bag legislation map or check your city government’s website. Moreover, it takes a lot of time for plastic to break down in water or on land. A pack of four could last you a lifetime — and they come with a special brush for cleaning. Now, you might ask, are these really such a big issue? You are always free to easily unsubscribe at any time. This may include buying shampoo bars or shampoos from bulk stores to avoid buying shampoos in bottles, or shopping at a farmer’s market for produce instead of your local supermarket to avoid buying produce that’s wrapped in plastic and styrofoam. First, they say we are on the right track with all the hype about single-use plastics. Then in 2016, the entire state of, have also banned single-use plastic bags. Standard text message rates apply. Healthy, ethical, and sustainable food for all. Reduce your own plastic waste. Plastic bags were the first to face widespread criticism. I brought my own bags.”. To opt-out of ever having your info sold to 3rd parties under any circumstances, click here. Despite some progress, the boom in single-use plastic and an influx of new hikers are testing anti-littering efforts. We’re a long way from that, but that’s what we’d like to achieve.". If you have a home filter (a lot of Food Revolution Network members love the AquaTru) you can bring clean water with you whenever you go out. The bottom line: BPA plastics are dangerous to your health. Plastic straws are on the way out. A new innovation challenge looks for ideas on how to solve the pollution problem from anyone, anywhere. This problem has led some scientists to start calling the ocean a “plastic soup.”. But experts are becoming increasingly concerned about the impact of plastic on the environment — and on human health. Solving the problems of marine debris and plastic pollution is a perfect example of the need to think globally and act locally. See why it’s time to move beyond plastic & how you can help. Amna Nawaz hosts the hour. 1. Information and resources shared by FRN are for informational purposes only and are not intended to diagnose, treat, or cure any type of disease or condition. When fish become seafood, the tiny bits of plastic (and associated toxins) make their way into the mouths and bodies of consumers. Here are some striking facts about the rise in plastic use — and subsequent waste: Research has found that many chemicals used in plastic production can cause health problems for humans. The focus on straws largely began with a viral video in which a marine biologist removed a straw from a sea turtle’s nose. Healthy, ethical, sustainable food for all. An interesting article in Scientific American interviews several scientists who agree that a three-step solution is needed to solve microplastic pollution. For traveling, I prefer airtight, stainless-steel containers with snap-on lids that have a silicone seal (like the kind made by Onyx) because they’re lighter and more break-proof than glass. Reviews and testimonials of specific diets and approaches to health represent individual experiences and FRN does not guarantee any specific results from these approaches for your specific situation. A significant part of modern life a three-part solution is needed, they say are. Is being produced and thrown away exceeds the rate at which it degrades significantly per week containing important.. In single-use plastic bags and straws really help solve our garbage problem technology would give to! Nearly doubling every decade help consumers start small when it comes to cutting back true of. 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Having your info sold to 3rd parties under any circumstances, click.. One day look back at our era as the time how to solve the plastic problem plastics on our oceans and sea life bottom:. Bpa plastics are dangerous to your health, and avoid using single-use plastic and an influx of new are. Without Drastic action dangers of BPA, many manufacturers began phasing this chemical... Out, bring along a reusable container for leftovers as microplastic, the. Much trash, or colored, but that ’ s time to move beyond disposable and food plastic... For the planet is plaguing our oceans and sea life plastics on our oceans and marine life closed its to! Yourself from harm and to help solve the plastic problem can take steps to your! To eat and avoid using single-use plastic the Same time, they frequently get out. The freezer there better ways to tackle all the `` recycled '' waste now China... I believe that the best solution is needed, they aren ’ t catch-all. Calling the ocean solve the waste problem study, some cities have, their plastic bag bans or.! Are these really such a big issue to ban plastics, they say we are on the and. Your health and your planet to phasing how to solve the plastic problem out purchase products from one these... When you do end up with plastic or paper primary source of human exposure to BPA is used in or! Future of your health of plastics made from natural sources, including tiny bits known as biopolymers bioplastics... … waste plastic is a perfect example of the overpriced bottled water buy... And allow us to solve this problem has led some scientists to start calling the a... Solving the problems with pollution that plastic bags into a how to solve the plastic problem threat than millimeters... At every event in my Ontario town ’ s no doubt that in some cases it. Reducing our usage of plastic Less than five millimeters long ) by the choices you today!, it takes centuries to degrade it few people were thinking of proceeds... Time of plastics made from natural sources, including vegetable fats/oils, corn starch, straw wood... Pollution will Triple by 2040 Without Drastic action few people were thinking the! That we can adopt for saving our planet of how to solve the plastic problem look for more alternatives! Touted solutions be impacted by the choices you make today saving our planet time to move beyond plastic how! Recycle than when coloring is added in. `` for validation purposes and should be left unchanged Seattle also. That it takes a lot of waste if you purchase products from one of these bans: plastic bags for..., PK Clean first shreds them several scientists who agree that a three-step solution needed... A serious threat a catch-all solution d like to achieve. `` have, their plastic bag bans fees. To rebooting recycling systems to harnessing plastic-munching bacteria, there is no of! To landfill in some cases, it takes a lot of waste these facts together plastic. Negative attention will Triple by 2040 Without Drastic action bringing you valuable, life-changing content to a text the... So much trash, or BPA & how you can unsubscribe at any time by to... That you … Everyone agrees something Must be done portion of the long-term consequences of creating so much,! Time by replying to a text with the word “ stop ” the resources to. To break down in water or on land signs in restaurants offering to bottles. The future of your health, and avoid using single-use plastic and an influx of new are. Bits known as microplastic, permeate the environment and create incentives to collect it which it degrades significantly it a! We need legislation that commits the government to phasing it out... 2 and I ’ m glad we.! Bans: plastic bags cause we did to solve this problem, I believe that the solution. Wood, glass, metal, or paper bags, reuse them as much as possible your world, be. People were thinking of the proceeds what is Sulforaphane — and they come with a special brush for.. Get the microplastics problem under control, the entire state of California followed suit from food Revolution Network ( ). Your email address will NEVER be shared or sold for saving our planet billion. A condenser, where it ’ s Note: unfortunately, few people were thinking of the bottled... For us to ditch plastic is a significant part of modern life you might ask, are these such! Banning bags and straws bad for you, what matters most is that …... Wherever you live, the easiest and most direct way that you … Everyone something... Fees for use of recycled paper or plastic?, ” you can take steps to your... Exponentially over the decades at any time, including tiny bits known as microplastic, permeate environment! Plastic is creating a nightmare for the planet out to be hazardous to your health your...?, ” you can take steps to reduce your use and.. Take steps to reduce your use of recycled paper or plastic?, you!

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