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Amid a Flood of Plastic, Big Companies See Opportunity

Once a month, accountant Michael Byrne pulls on his rubber boots and makes his way to a spot on the banks of the River Thames. He carefully marks out a one-square meter (11-square foot) patch and, with gloved hands, catalogues each bit of plastic he finds, meticulously reporting the data to the environmental group Thames21. On Aug. 20, for example, he and other volunteers found an average of 31 food wrappers, the sticks from 29 cotton swabs, 12 bottle tops and about 100 pieces of small...

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