Plastic Waste

Try guessing a store without any plastic product! Impossible!!! There are incalculable amount of plastic lying around us in one form or the other. Plastics are very convenient and efficient in storing or transporting goods.  According to a report by the researchers from the University of California, Santa Barbara, the University of Georgia, and the Sea Education Association expresses that more than nine billion tons of plastic have been made since the 1950s. NINE BILLION TONS! This is shocking. The most shocking part of this study, is that about 30% out of the nine billion tons is utilized and the rest is considered waste. The paper indicates, “the growth of plastics production has dramatically overtaken any other manufactured material in the past 65 years”.  Let’s ponder upon this global issue in a slightly elaborative method.

The plastic debris is scattered throughout the world, eventually replacing the soil of the land or the bedrock of the ocean. These debris are categorized into two subcategories known as primary and secondary. Primary plastics are plastic products in their original form. Secondary plastics are smaller plastics that resulted from the degradation of the bigger plastics. The decomposition of plastic products turns into debris that are scattered throughout various places on earth. Most of the manmade pollution (plastics) originates from the land. The pollution is transported to the rivers and oceans by wind or rain.

Plastic reduction movements are occurring throughout the globe as a superficial effort to mask the real production and usage habits of the citizens. The most interesting fact about plastic is its durability. Plastics are very durable and their decomposition time or lifetime is like that of a civilization. Plastics require a very looooooonng time to decompose. According to University of Hawaii, a plastic bottle takes around 100 years to decay and a plastic beverage holder takes about 400 years to decay. Facts like 100 years or 600 years is a very long time. You can conclude, based on these numbers, that all the plastic manufactured as of today has not even initiated the decay process.

For example, Americans throw away about 33.6 million tons of plastic annually. Out of the 33.6 million only 6.5% of it is recycled and 7.7% is combusted in generating electricity or heat from waste. The remaining plastic is used in landfills. Landfill, basically, is the process of returning exploited resources back to its owner (planet earth).

The deleterious properties of plastic not only impact the environment but also on its users. Let’s consider some of the harmful impacts of plastic on the environment. These include the landfill areas that contain various plastics. Most of the plastic contain chlorinated elements, which blend with microorganism in the landfill areas to accelerate the biodegradation of plastics. Nylon-eating bacteria, for instance, breakdown nylon through enzymes. The whole biodegradation process of plastics disseminates, methane, is an important gas that acts as a catalyst to global warming.

One of the reasons behind recycling a fewer percentage of plastic is its variety. There are various types of plastic with many types of chemical composition. Recycling such plastics will only contaminate them further because of the variety of chemicals involved in them. Thus, leading to the rise of complex problems from such solution.

Ocean is another area of concern. Pollution in ocean is a serious threat to not only marine organisms but also humans. One of the facts that needs to considered is that 70% of the oxygen we breathe is produced by marine plants. Secondary, about 97% of the earth’s water supply is contained in the ocean.  You can conclude, based upon this statistic, the level of destruction it can inflict upon the biological and natural world.

Certain percentage of the population does not live on the shores to directly encounter the condition and health of the ocean. This does not imply that the health of the ocean does not affect such percentage of the population. Waste disposal in oceans is rising at a pace faster than we can even realize and it is going to impact humans in a significant manner. If we dispose plastic directly or indirectly into rivers, lakes, or oceans the chemical composites are going to contaminate water supplies and food chains through marine organisms.  Chemical composites can enter in your body through sea-food and affect your hormonal capabilities and damage your kidneys. Ingesting the water can lead stomach aches, diarrhea, and rashes on the skin.

The adage, “water is life” is a very popular quote that nobody gets tired of quoting during their verbal support for the environment and natural resources. The minute we realize the importance of water for ourselves and our generations, then we can make a difference in cleaning up this mess.

 Credit Images : Plastic Oceans The Facts

References

Ferris, Robert. “The world has made more than 9 billion tons of plastic, says new study.” CNBC LLC,

     © 2017 CNBC LLC., 19 July 2017, www.cnbc.com/2017/07/19/ the-world-has-made-more-than-9-billion-tons-of-plastic-says-new-study.html. Accessed 26 Aug.  2017.

 Cho, Renee. "What Happens to All That Plastic?" State of the Planet Earth Institute, Columbia University, 31 Jan. 2012, blogs.ei.columbia.edu/2012/01/31/what-happens-to-all-that-plastic/. 

     Accessed 4 Sept. 2017.

“The Facts.” Plastic Oceans, www.plasticoceans.org/the-facts/. Accessed 6 Sept. 2017.

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