The foundation of today’s fast-paced world is laid on the bricks of plastics. Undoubtedly, plastic has innumerable uses, but humans have become dependent on single-use or disposable plastic. Plastic pollution has become one of the most pressing environmental issues, as the rapidly increasing production of disposable plastic products overwhelms the world’s ability to deal with them.
Almost a million plastic bottles are purchased in a minute around the world. And studies show that around 5 trillion plastic bags are used worldwide in 1 year. Looking at the total plastic production, we can conclude that half of the plastic produced is only for time use.
Analysing the impact of plastic pollution, the negatives are far more than the positives. So the question is, how did we get here?
Plastic was produced in significantly less quantity during 1950-70, and hence it was easy to manage the plastic waste at that time. By the 1990’s it tripled, and in the early 2000, plastic waste increased in a single decade than it had in the last 40 years.
Today, 300 million tonnes of plastic waste is produced every year, equal to the weight of the entire human population on this planet.
Slowing down our plastic production is the need of the hour. But we also need to ameliorate how we manage our plastic waste generation.
79% of the plastic waste ends up in landfills. Only 9% of the plastic waste is recycled. A recent survey showed that the most common plastic found in the environment is a tiny plastic in the filter of cigarette butts. The next common items are bottle caps, drinking bottles, straws and food wrappers. Almost all of us use these plastic products every day.
Plastic is a significant contribution to ocean pollution as the rivers carry all the plastic waste along with them. A total 8 million tonnes of plastic ends up in the oceans every year. Rivers work like a conveyor belt carrying more and more garbage(plastic) as they move downstream. Once the trash reaches the ocean, it travels around the world.
90% of the plastic waste that ends up in the ocean is carried by 12 rivers are Niger, Nile, Indus, Meghna, Brahmaputra, Ganges, Hia He, Amur, Mekong, Huang He, Chang Jiang, and Zhujiang.
We all know that any kind of plastic waste on mother earth- whether water bodies or on land can persist for more than 100 years. Plastic waste never disappears; it only breaks down into smaller particles. The properties that make plastic so worthwhile for us are the same properties that make it infeasible to break down.
Thousands and millions of animals are killed because of the plastics in our rivers and oceans. Many marine animals swallow plastic bags and other tiny plastic items, destining them to our dinner plates.
In a very few decades, plastic pollution has created an unimaginable impact on our ecosystem. But still, some hope is left. Human beings created this problem, and human beings also have the power to reverse this problem or at least slow down the noxious impacts of plastic pollution.
If the current scenario continues, our oceans will have more plastic than marine animals in the near future.
Now the time has come for human beings to stop turning a deaf ear to this problem and take action. Reducing our dependence on plastic products is the need of the hour. By recycling and reusing products, we can definitely reduce the devastating impacts of plastic pollution.
Why Plastic Recycling?
- Recycling plastic reduces the release of carbon dioxide and harmful gases into the environment.
- Plastic recycling conserves the space used as landfills.
- It makes it possible to use those landfills for other purposes.
- Recycling saves petroleum that producers may use to make new plastics.
- Plastic recycling lessens the energy that manufacturers consume in creating new products.
- Plastic recycling prevents global warming.
- Plastic recycling reduces the emergence of all forms of pollution.
- Plastic recycling provides income for volunteers who collect plastic waste.
- Plastic recycling helps reduce activities like deforestation that happen when making new plastic.
Well, while relaxing on the beach, no one wants to think how the sea has become a trash soup. So it’s high time that we should create awareness about plastic pollution and try our best to reduce single-use of plastic.