In simple words, plastic pollution can be represented as the accumulation of plastic objects and particles in the Earth’s environment that adversely affects wildlife, wildlife habitat, and humans. It has become one of the most critical environmental issues as swiftly increasing the production of disposable plastic products engulfs the world’s ability to deal with them. The fact that plastics are inexpensive and durable has resulted in high-level plastic production by humans. Another fact that plastics are slow to degrade has led to the high visibility of plastic pollution in the environment.
The development of plastics has evolved from the use of natural plastic materials, for instance, chewing gum and shellac to the use of chemically modified, natural materials e.g. natural rubber, nitrocellulose, collagen, gallate and finally to completely synthetic molecules e.g., epoxy, polyvinyl chloride.
However, after World War I the improvements made in the chemical technology led to an explosion in new forms of plastics which led to mass production of plastic in the beginning in the 1940s and 1950s that was around World War II.
Some shocking ocean plastic statics:
- More than one million seabirds and 100,000 marine animals die from plastic pollution every
- There is now 5.25 trillion macro and micro pieces of plastic in our ocean & 46,000 pieces in every square mile of ocean, weighing up to 269,000
Micro piece plastic: Micro Debris are plastic pieces between 2 mm and 5 mm in size, commonly referred to as nurdles.
Macro piece plastic: Plastic debris is categorized as macro debris when it is larger than 20 mm.
- Almost every baby sea turtle has plastic in their
- Every day around 8 million pieces of plastic makes their way into the ocean.
- More than 1 million plastic bags end up in the trash every
- Every year, about 8 million tons of plastic waste escapes into the oceans from coastal
Effects on Climate Change:
In 2019 a new report ‘Plastic and Climate’ was published. According to the report, production and burning of plastic will contribute greenhouse gases in the equivalent of 850 million tonnes of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere. The report predicts that the annual emission will grow to 1.34 billion tonnes by 2030.
Harm to wildlife:
Plastic pollution has the potential to poison animals. Almost every marine species, such as sea turtles, have been found to contain large proportions of plastics in their stomach. This makes animals typically starve because the plastic blocks the animal’s digestive tract. Sometimes Marine mammals are entangled in plastic products such as nets, which can harm or kill them.
Entanglement in plastic debris has caused deaths of many marine organisms, animals caught in the debris end up suffocating or drowning because they are unable to untangle themselves.
The solution to this critical problem is to prevent plastic from entering water bodies in the first place. This can be accomplished with improved waste management systems and more recycling. Also, by creating more and more awareness about this by observing Earth Day and International World Environment Day.