Surprisingly, 30% of the plastic manufactured in the 20th century is still around. Pacific Standard Magazine reported on Science Advances research that over 8300 million metric tons of virgin plastic were produced since 1950. Without a proper global analysis of plastic production, researchers are still figuring out how much plastic humans have made and how much of it is still around without being recycled.
Usage of plastic is one of the significant causes of land and water pollution. It has been found that with the gradual increase in industries in different sectors, there is no way to reduce the manufacture of plastics.
According to a study conducted by the British University, Department of Environment Studies, just 12% of the manufactured plastic is incinerated. Apart from that, only 9% of the plastic has been recycled.
Many studies have different arguments about this recycling process of plastics. Studies reveal that plastic is a widely used man-made material that refuses to decompose by itself. 30% of the plastics, produced since World War II, is still in use. This is the reason why the level of pollution is increasing with days.
There is no denying the fact that the manufacturing of plastics has helped to lower the cost of materials, water resistance, etc. Nevertheless, a considerable amount of trash is also produced. According to researches, plastic production leads to almost 7 billion tons of it, which is just unimaginable.
It is important to know the way plastic can bring hazards to the environment and why it is necessary to recycle the same and decrease its use on an urgent basis.
How can plastics adversely affect the environment?
You might be new to the fact that a massive change in building technology has emerged since 1950 with the ‘age of plastic’. It can be said that plastic is still a ubiquitous component of every building assembly.
But, the adverse effect of plastic cannot be denied at any cost. Nevertheless, it is essential to understand which form of plastics creates a negative impact on the ecological associations.
The concept of plastic pollution has emerged ever after the substantial negative impact on wildlife and their habitat. Untreated plastic works as pollutants which can be categorised as ‘micro’ and ‘macro’ debris.
The chemicals used in the plastic production renders in many natural processes of degradation. Thus, as a result, plastics are slow to degrade. These are the two factors that have made plastic a prominent pollutant.
Additionally, the harmful effect of plastic on aqua life is indeed devastating. The suffocation, and ingestion and other macro-particles in plastic are the primary cause of the death of a large number of birds, fish, and mammals. The most concerning factor is that it breaks into smaller particles, thus adversely affecting the aqua life.
As reported in the Science Advances article, Captain Charles Moore has discovered an incredible occurrence that happened due to plastic pollution. The widespread plastic contamination formed in the North Pacific Ocean is larger than the total area of Texas. It was formed within a cyclonic region which is known as a gyre. By 2015, the estimated area of contamination extended to 10 million square miles. 90% of this contaminated debris was plastic.
Even if attempts are taken to decompose these plastics, the harmful chemicals will lead to the death of several aqua animals. As the bioaccumulation increases, it affects the food chain as a whole.
A repercussion of plastic disposal is the release of PCBs (Polychlorinated biphenyls) in the air. The smoke released from the process makes the environment more polluted. It leads to the death of both birds and trees. Apart from that, human life also gets harmfully affected.
The disposal of these chemicals in the air leads to different health hazards like reproductive damage, asthma, immune system damage and organ damage.
Fracturing rock with pressurized liquid has been done since many years. Fracking is the process of creating a crack in the deep rock to force open existing fissures for oil or gas [source]. Fracking is also done to create plastic as it produces Ethane. It is already a well-known fact that fracking is one of the most dangerous processes on earth as it releases a lot of toxic substances. Due to this, the percentage of water pollution has also increased considerably.
How can we control plastic pollution?
There are several ways in which plastic pollution can be controlled. Here are some of the effective ways to manage the issue:
- Reduce your use of single-use plastics: Do not use plastic bags, water bottles, straws, cups, utensils, dry cleaning bags, take-out containers, and any other plastic item that is used once and then discarded
- Recycle Plastics: Recycling is an effective way to control plastic pollution. As the percentage of recycling is quite low, plastic pollution is still not under control.
- Do your bit for the community: Participate in beach or river cleanup to improve your environment. You have to initiate the change and make it acceptable to the people as well.
- Avoid purchasing products with micro-beads: Micro-beads found in some face scrubs, tubes of toothpaste, and body washes. Harmful chemicals that are used to make plastics are also pollution contingent. Millions of plastic micro-beads are washed down the drain each year, posing a severe threat to marine life. Thus, choose bath and shower soaps that do not contain micro-beads.
- Stop using plastic cutlery: Say NO to plastic cutlery both at restaurants and at home. You can keep silverware with you and avoid plastic cutlery whenever you have your meal.
- These are some of the effective ways to control plastic pollution. It can be controlled if we bring about a change and control the overuse of plastic in every sphere of our day to day lives.
To conclude, plastic pollution is indeed a serious problem and it should be curbed with immediate effect. With an increasing amount of untreated plastic waste, environmental degradation is evident. Before it is too late, we need to take the necessary steps.
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