Plastic Pollution
Environment

Plastic Pollution

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Plastics are extremely versatile materials which are commonly used in our daily life. It is widely used by consumers and by the industries also. Plastic is light in weight that makes our lives easier and safer. Plastics are used in clothes, water bottles, carry bags, electronic items, toys, vehicles, etc. Now it has an important role in our day to day life. We are surrounded by Plastics as we can find plastic everywhere; from the Mount Everest to deep in the sea. But do you know Plastic is the main cause of climate change and it is the main reason of environment pollution and land pollution also? Almost all countries are suffering from plastic pollution.

What is Plastic?

The term ‘’plastic’’ is derived from the Greek word ”Plastikos”, meaning fit for moldings. It means the plastic can mold and can shape as per requirement. Plastics are used from cycle to Airplanes, a toothbrush to toilet seat cover, bags to life-saving equipment. Plastics have many valuable uses; we have become so much addicted to plastics either it is single-use or disposable. Plastics are typically organic polymers of high molecular mass, made from natural materials such as cellulose, coal, natural gas, salt, and crude oil through a polymerization or poly-condensation process.

And now the question is how polymers are made? They’re based on hydrocarbons (molecules built from hydrogen and carbon atoms) that we get mostly from things like petroleum, natural gas, or coal. Crude oil drilled from the land or sea that contains thousands of different hydrocarbons, which is separated by oil refineries through a process called fractional distillation before we can use them. You can understand this process through this example. We all know the process of purifying the water. If we heat water, it eventually turns into steam, which we can then collect, cool, and condense back to water; that’s distillation, and it produces highly purified or “distilled” water. Just like that, in refineries, they heat and distill crude oil the same way, but all those many hydrocarbons it contains have molecules that are different sizes and weights, so they boil off and condense at different temperatures. Collecting and distilling the different parts of crude oil at different temperatures gives us a bunch of simpler mixtures of hydrocarbons, called fractions, which we can then use for making different types of plastics. Hydrocarbons made in this way are the raw materials for polymerization.

What is Plastic Pollution?

Plastic pollution is one of the most serious and dangerous issues around the world as Plastic pollution is the main cause of climate change and global warming. As per the report of Plastic and Climate – 2019, plastic contributes greenhouse gases in the equivalent of 850 million tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) to the atmosphere which is an alarming situation.

Plastic pollution is a threat for plants, animals, and humans on land as well as on the oceans also. Plastics made by fossils, chemical, and oil so animals use plastic as food mistakenly and can choke or become fatally ill from toxins. Fishes and other sea animals also consume thousands of tons of plastic annually which is harmful. A 2017 study found that 83% of tap water samples taken around the world contained plastic pollutants.

The amount of plastic poised on the land is greater and more concentrated than that in the water. Plastic pollution is most visible in developing Asian and African nations, where garbage collection systems are often inefficient or non-existent. But on the other part in developed countries, the uses of plastics are very high which causes trouble in collecting and for recycling also.

Chlorinated plastic can release harmful chemicals into the soil, groundwater, other surrounding water sources and also the ecosystem of the world. This can cause serious harm to the species that drink the water.

Plastic is one of the big issues as only 9% of all plastic waste ever produced has been recycled. About 12% has been incinerated, while the rest 79% has accumulated in landfills, dumps or the natural environment. More than 99% of plastics are produced from chemicals derived from oil, natural gas, and coal; all of which are dirty, non-renewable resources. If current trends continue, by 2050 the plastic industry could account for 20% of the world’s total oil consumption.

It is time to take a strict action otherwise, we will lose a lot of spices of sea, land animals, and a lot of spices of plants also. We as a human will also suffer a lot as we will not get pure water and pure oxygen.

Plastic Pollution Fact

  • One million+ plastic drinking bottles are purchased every minute around the world
  • Up to 5 trillion single-use plastic bags are used worldwide every year
  • In total, half of all plastic produced is designed to be used only once
  • In 1950, the world’s population of 2.5 billion produced 1.5 million tons of plastic
  • In 2016, the world population was more than 7 billion produced over 320 million tons of plastic
  • Till 1970, plastic waste was manageable but at the end of 1990, plastic waste generated more than triple
  • In the early 2000s, plastic waste increased than it had in the previous 50 years
  • Every day approximately 8 million pieces of plastic pollution find on the oceans
  • If current trends continue, our oceans could contain more plastic than fish by 2050
  • 100,000 marine mammals and turtles and 1 million sea birds are killed by marine plastic pollution annually
  • Half of all plastics ever manufactured have been made in the last 15 years
  • Plastic waste increased exponentially, from 2.3 million tons in 1950 to 448 million tons by 2015 every year which is equivalent to the human population. Production is expected to double by 2050

The Decomposition of Plastic Waste in Landfills      

Disposable Diaper

250-500 years to decompose

Foamed Plastic Cups

50 years to decompose

Straw

200 years to decompose

Plastic Bottles

70 to 450 years to decompose

Fishing Line

600 years to decompose

Plastic Bags

500 to 1000 years to decompose

Some initiatives towards non-usage of Plastics

  • Sikkim and Bihar has restricted the usage of plastic water bottles in government functions and meetings
  • In 2016 Bangalore banned the plastic for all-purpose other than for few special cases like milk delivery etc.
  • Maharashtra effected the Plastic and Thermocol products ban in 2018
  • In July 2018, Albania became the first country in Europe to ban lightweight plastic bags
  • In 2019, New York, USA banned single-use plastic bags and introduced a 5 cent fee for using single-use paper bags
  • In 2019, Nigeria banned the production, import, and usage of plastic bags in the country
  • Two cities of Israel, Eilat, and Herzliya decided to ban the usage of single-use plastic bags and cutlery on the beaches
  • The government of India decided to ban single-use plastics and take some measures to recycle and reuse plastic, from 2 October 2019

Every year, June 5 is observed as World Environment Day to raise awareness. The world is more concern about this issue but it is not enough. We should be also more concern because we are the user. The government cannot stop or control this issue alone until and unless we should involve in this initiative. It is our responsibility to make the environment clean not only for us but also for our new generations otherwise in the next few years you will see a lot of mountain of plastics garbage in your city. If we will not stop using plastic, the condition will be worst. This environment is our environment and this pollution is also created by us so it is our responsibility to make the environment clean so that our new generation can celebrate World Environment Day happily.

You can read also: Plastic Pollution – Invention Of Plastic, Causes Of Plastic Pollution And Some Facts 

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