Humans created Plastic and are now sinking in it 🚯
The problem with plastic is that it doesn’t bio-degrade into its natural molecular components even in a time block of 500 years. Plastic will be still around long after we are gone.. We made plastic and became heavily dependent on it. It lives on forever as a reminder to the enormous human folly of producing something which is not suitable to the ecosystems of the planet.
Recycling of plastic
- The production of plastic skyrocketed from the 1950s. Now we’ve approximately 9 billion tons of plastic in the world.
- Out of which, around 7 billion is considered trash. Out of this plastic waste, 6.3 billion tons do not get recycled.
Oceans- Garbage Cans for Plastic
- Plastic pollution of oceans has assumed unimaginable proportions. The majority of the plastic trash in the oceans is the result of it getting carried away from the rivers and mainlands.
- The plastic trash in oceans endangers the habitats of marine flora and fauna. Millions of marine species are falling victim to the adverse effects of plastic in oceans.
- Some marine animals are negatively affected by the leftover fishing nets. But the actual problem lies in the ingestion of microplastics by aquatic life, from the minute zooplankton to the mighty whales.
Composition of plastic
- Microplastics are tiny plastic pieces that are used in daily products and cannot disintegrate into its eco-system and ultimately find their way into the oceans.
- Micro-plastics have become the bane of marine species and are seen as an approaching catastrophe. Their visibility in the oceans is seen even on the deepest sea beds of oceans and on the flotilla of ice blocks in the Arctic.
- Experts are trying to build an international coalition to stop plastic pollution and to dispose and recycle the vast expanse of plastic pervading the oceans.
- Micro-plastics break down into even smaller Nano-plastics and these can alter DNA and tissue structure of fish and human beings.
- The time has come to take corrective measures without which there will be a point of no return for the sustainability of the oceans.
- We need to take immediate action to protect the oceans against the influx of plastic trash. We need to become a part of the solution and stop being part of the problem.
Snapshot of “Plastic” Revolution
- In the beginning, plastic was made out of fossil fuels. The paucity for natural materials during the Second World War led to the invention of synthetic polymers that propelled the plastic revolution.
- In modern times, Plastic has become omnipresent and is seen in every sphere of human activity such as medical devices, food packaging and beauty products. There is hardly a facet of modern consumerism that is not yet been touched by plastic.
- China accounts for the highest production of plastic with its share of 29% of the total plastic production.
- Around 450 million tons of plastic are produced every year. The biggest market for modern plastic is the packaging material industry. The trash related to packaging materials makes up for more than half of all plastic trash that has been accumulated across the globe.
How did this happen to us?
- Plastic products have no doubt had a transforming effect on humanity. From the nylon parachutes of the Second World War, applications in space travel and great strides in medicinal gadgets plastic inventions have benefited humanity to a certain point. Now the tables are turning.
- Plastic helped in economizing fuel costs and preservation of food. Celluloid is a plastic variant that helped save the elephant population by presenting itself as a good alternative for ivory.
- From PET bottles to advanced robotic applications, Plastic had a profound effect on our way of life.
- Big Corporates like Coca-Cola manufactures a whopping 130 billion PET bottles every year. On a macro scale, this will lead to very unpleasant future scenarios.
- The question before us is how much more time can we continue this mindless pursuit of material abundance without crossing the red barriers linked to environmental stability?
- Humanity became addicted to glitz and glamor of plastic and now we’re reaping the whirlwind.
The Recycling Dilemma
- After high-pressure lobbying from eco-friendly organizations, plastic recycling began in the 1980s.
- Presently only 18 percent of the total plastic trash is recycled with plastic bottles being the major component. Plastic straws are not ideal for recycling and are discarded.
- Synthetic leather items, credit cards, pipes and cable fittings are considered to be very difficult to recycle.
Tax on Plastic
- Experts now are proposing taxes on companies for every pound of resinous plastic manufactured.
- This will result in the collection of up to 6 billion dollars as tax revenues that can be funneled into the development of garbage gathering systems. This proposal was shelved due to obvious resentment from the mighty corporate companies.
- Scientists alarmed at the rise of plastic pollution called for the setting up of a global fund to fight plastic use.
The UN Clean Seas agreement is just a tool for lip service and does not do anything substantial to decrease the plastic pollution in the oceans.
The way ahead
- The ideal solution is to prevent plastic from joining the oceans.
- More research needs to be done to understand how eco-friendly solutions can be brought out to tackle the plastic menace.
- The industry needs to invest in biodegradable plastic that is recycling –friendly.
- As public opinion grows fiercer against the use of plastic products, corporate companies are forced to act.
- Recently PepsiCo and Unilever have announced their intention to switch to complete reusable and recyclable packaging by the year 2025. Johnson &Johnson pledged the use of paper stems to plastic in its cotton swabs.
- Famous people and celebrities are lending their image towards the noble cause of plastic reduction and calling for reuse and recycling of plastic.
- Even third world countries like Kenya are doing their bit to save the planet by outright banning of plastic bags and imposing heavy fines on violators.
- The cosmetic industry is a major culprit in the proliferation of plastic microbeads in the oceans. The U.S and Canada have imposed bans on beauty products containing microbeads.
- A long-term approach would be to reduce the existing demand for plastic products and recycle the present plastic trash.
- Sofia Mendez