GLOBAL PLASTIC POLLUTION:
Strategies for the future
What is plastic?
Plastic is a globally used product utilized in the hygienic and safe storage of foodstuff, diapers, containers, and packaging. It is used to prevent spillage, scratching and is not prone to breakage or damage easily.
However, it does tend to bend out of shape when exposed to heat. It is also easily affordable; hence it is widely manufactured and used. Due to this, it is easily discarded in bottles, dishes, bags, and other plastic items.
Why is plastic so harmful to the environment?
The result is that our world is now massively polluted, with plastics in various landfills, streets, and even our oceans. There is very high usage of plastics and equally high wastage, and the effects are visible in our environment.
According to research, over 7.8 billion tonnes of plastic were manufactured in 2015, and only 20% were recycled(Ritchie, 2018). 55% of that plastic waste was discarded.
According to Parker(2021), this production went up to 8.3 billion tonnes, and 91% of it was not recycled. Below is a chart representing the statistics(Ritchie, 2018).
As a result, aquatic and terrestrial life has been affected, particularly that of livestock. Cows and other animals are ingesting plastics, and aquatic life is being suffocated by plastic bags and other plastic materials that find their way into the ocean.
Due to pollution, there is an increasing rate of illness triggered within both animals and human beings. “Pollution triggers heart and respiratory diseases, asthma, stroke and lung cancer”(Lara, 2020).
The manufacture of plastics also requires the use of fossil fuels and other fuels that lead to deforestation and pollution, hence leading to pollution.
This also results in poor air quality since the landfills produce unpleasant odors, and the manufacturing plants run on a lot of fossil fuel energy.
If the situation continues, there will be very poor air quality and the destruction of natural landscapes.
Other effects include depletion of the protective ozone layer and certain species becoming unsafe to eat due to the high amount of pollutants they consume. This will affect the world’s health since the global population still requires enough food which cannot be grown on these landfills.
What is being done about this
Several organizations and individuals are now formulating plans to reduce plastic pollution in their communities. Companies are now involved in corporate social responsibility programs to reduce their environmental footprint.
These are the examples of companies that are taking steps to reduce the use of single-use plastics, which form the bulk of plastic waste, and promote recycling.
According to the EPA(2021), plastic disposal is growing and the rate of recycling is still low as evidenced in the graph below.
There are still many companies that pollute and do not offer any solutions, and legislation would help control their poor production methods.
What can an individual do?
1.It would be wise to have community recycling plants to repurpose old plastic items after cleaning.
How much of an impact does the community make?
Many people feel overwhelmed by the amount of litter, most of which is plastic that damages the environment. Beach and field clean-ups remove these trash piles. “Companies such as Parley For The Oceans, which transport the trash to incinerators, then collect them.”(Truelove, 2016).
It also became a social media challenge to show the results of a clean-up, and this was a good use of social media to mitigate the effects of pollution, both in terms of environmental aesthetics and health to the community.
It is vital for each individual in our current world to be aware of the effects of their purchases and actions in terms of consumption to avoid further pollution. We should care for our planet since it is our only home.
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