Plastic and the environment
"We invest a lot of money and enthusiasm for missions to space - but there's nothing living out there. The sea bed is teeming with life. We really need a mission to planet ocean - it's the last frontier." Prof Edward Hill from the UK National Oceanography Centre.
Plastic pollution involves the accumulation of plastic products in the environment that adversely affects wildlife, wildlife habitat, or humans. Plastics that act as pollutants are categorized into micro-, meso-, or macro debris, based on size.
What are the effects of plastic on the environment?
The most obvious form of pollution associated with plastic packaging is wasted plastic sent to landfills. Plastics are very stable and therefore stay in the environment a long time after they are discarded, especially if they are shielded from direct sunlight by being buried in landfills.
The effects of plastic pollution.
Plastic pollution doesn't just hurt marine species. It's also harmful to people. As plastic debris floats in the seawater, it absorbs dangerous pollutants that are highly toxic and have a wide range of chronic effects.
Plastic bags harm the environment
Plastic bags tend to disrupt the environment in a serious way. They get into soil and slowly release toxic chemicals.They eventually break down into the soil, with the unfortunate consequence being that animals eat them and often choke and die.
Plastic pollution a problem.
Because persistent organic pollutants in the marine environment attach to the surface of plastic debris, floating plastics in the oceans have been found to accumulate pollutants and transport them through ocean currents. ... Plastic debris is polluting the human food chain.
The most dangerous emissions can be caused by burning plastics containing based substances like PVC. When such plastics are burned, harmful quantities of dioxins, a group of highly toxic chemicals are emitted. Dioxins are the most toxic to the human organisms.
Types of Plastic
- Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET)
- High Density Polyethylene (HDPE)
- Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC)
- Low Density Polyethylene (LDPE)
- Polypropylene (PP)
- Polystyrene (PS)
In some parts of the ocean it’s estimated that there are over half a million pieces of plastic for every square kilometre #BluePlanet2
Plastic Fantastic - Did you know?
- Since the 1950’s it is estimated that 8.3 billion metrics tonnes of plastic have been produced and roughly 80% of this is thrown away, around 10% is recycled and the rest destroyed.
- Most of the plastic thrown away is in landfill sites or into the wide-ranging environment.
- There is more than 8 million tonnes of plastic being discarded in the oceans every year.
- The sea contains 50 trillion micro plastic particles
- Put it in perspective - 500 times more micro plastic particle are in the sea than there are stars in the galaxy.
- Plastic bags can often look like jellyfish to a sea turtle
- Seagulls see plastic floating on the top of the ocean as a snack
- When plastic degrades into small pieces and is eaten by fish – we are now eating this
- Make-up and suntan creams also contain micro plastics which go into the ocean
- Most plastics are made from petroleum or natural gas, non-renewable resources
- The average time for a plastic bottle to completely degrade is at least 450 years but some bottles take up to 1000 years to degrade.
- Fish eat plastic in the ocean because it smells like food
- The oceans are flowing with plastic rubbish: shopping bags, water bottles, old toothbrushes, and more.
- It is estimated that by 2020, there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish.