Plastic In The Ocean Facts – Plastic pollution is one of many challenges facing the earth that humans have overlooked and often neglected. Anyone who uses plastic has contributed to this problem in one way or the other. Although government policy can bring about change, lasting solutions require everyone’s cooperation. A closer look at the world’s plastic problem and what this plastic pollution means to us.
Tonnes of plastic waste are traded around the world every year. There are many sectors in the international trade of scrap plastics, such as waste traders, large and small recycling companies, dealers and transport companies.
Plastic In The Ocean Facts
Due to malpractice, the United Nations bans the plastic waste trade unless traders and companies meet UN regulations.
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Indonesia, Vietnam, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Philippines and China are the top six countries that contribute the most waste to the ocean. However, it is worth noting that some First World countries send their garbage to these countries.
Microplastics are tiny particles of plastic that contain toxic substances such as DDT and hexachlorobenzene. Since microplastics are only less than 5 mm in size, they are at risk of being ingested by marine life.
Those same sea creatures may eventually make their way to our dinner tables. If humans eat seafood contaminated with microplastics, it can alter human DNA and cause infertility, obesity or cancer.
Macroplastics are large pieces of plastic that are now common in the oceans. Waste products like bottles, pouches and plastic bags eventually break down into microplastics, unless some unlucky creature ingests them first.
Facts About Plastic In The Ocean
If you’re wondering how far plastic can travel into the ocean, microplastics have already reached the Arctic ice. Discovered by a group of American scientists on an expedition, it proves the serious impact of global plastic use.
According to a United Nations report, as of 2018, 127 countries have implemented policies regulating plastic bags. Additionally, 27 countries have banned single-use plastics such as plates, cups, straws or packaging.
Kenya has one of the strictest laws in the world when it comes to following plastic regulation laws. Using, selling or producing plastic bags in Kenya is punishable by a fine of up to $40,000 or up to 4 years in prison.
Every minute, people around the world buy 1 million plastic bottles. This trend in plastic bottle business is expected to grow by more than 10%-20% every year if we keep our eyes closed.
Startling Facts About Plastics In The Ocean
Unlike countries with strict plastic regulations, more than half of the world’s countries still have no policies in place to fight plastic pollution. Countries that allow it use an average of 2 million plastic bags per minute, there’s no denying how this adds to the problem.
In late 2015, England passed a law that charges 5 GBP for all single-use plastic carrier bags. As a result, the country’s plastic bag sales have dropped by more than 80% by 2019. Recently, England banned all single-use plastics by April 2020.
Of all the water bodies in the world, the main rivers of Asia are known to be the main routes of plastic waste. The 8 rivers in question are: Yangtze River (China), Indus (Asia’s longest river), Yellow River (China), Hai He River (China), Ganges River (India), Pearl River (China), Amur River (world’s 10th longest river), and the Mekong River (7th longest river in Asia).
Plastics are produced from natural materials such as coal, salt, cellulose, natural gas and crude oil through a process called polymerization. However, non-biodegradable plastics contain harmful substances like aluminum cans, tyres, toxic chemicals, paints etc.
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Although plastics come from natural ingredients, most plastics are non-biodegradable because manufacturers/consumers seek cheap durability. This is why biodegradable plastics are not ideal.
However, non-biodegradable plastics take 1,000 years or more to break down. With the alarming rate of single-plastic use, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out how this industry will affect our environment.
If you’re still not convinced that the world’s plastic pollution affects everyone, you should probably read How Plastics Affect Our Ecology. Plastic pollution affects all levels of the food chain: If fish eat plastic, and humans eat fish, they will also ingest toxic microplastics. Over time, this will result in a number of different health complications. Year after year, wild fish become more polluted.
Also known as the Garbage Vortex, the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is an island of floating plastic. It is made up of 3.6 trillion pieces of plastic which is equivalent to about 200 pieces of plastic for every person on earth. Asia, North America and South America are the largest contributors to the Great Pacific Garbage Area.
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Bioplastics is one of the latest in biodegradable or compostable plastic technology. Unlike non-biodegradable plastic, its raw material comes from plants like corn, potato, soy etc. One of its most promising characteristics is that bioplastics decompose quickly.
“No plastic lasts forever.” – While this phrase may be true, non-biodegradable plastics have a much longer shelf life. Plastic items can take up to 1,000 years to decompose, while a plastic bottle takes up to 450 years to decompose. Regular plastic bags will take up to 20 years. On the other hand, high quality biodegradable plastics only take three to six months to break down completely.
Are biodegradable plastics a better option than non-biodegradable ones? Yes and no Manufacturing of bioplastics requires more energy which leads to more pollution. In other words, even the greenest bioplastics are still responsible for overall pollution. Furthermore, bioplastics are a competition for food source as it uses corn etc. for its ingredients which should be for human consumption.
With this aim, the fight against plastic pollution has just begun. The best way to reduce your plastic footprint is to recycle or avoid using it. Besides, there are over 101 ways to recycle plastic, and creativity is the key. For example, making handmade toys, furniture, etc. from used plastic bottles are just some of the solutions to help the environment. Marine debris is a common pollution problem in oceans and waterways around the world. Plastic debris is one of the most serious threats to the health of the ocean.
The Known Unknowns Of Plastic Pollution
Up to 90% of the waste that floats in the ocean and litters our shores is plastic. Plastic can harm wildlife, damage coastal habitats, affect local economies, and even threaten human health.
Even if you don’t live near the coast, your plastic waste can still end up in the ocean. A plastic water bottle thrown across the street can end up in storm water sewers, rivers and streams, and out to sea.
Plastic debris comes in many different types and sizes that we buy and use ourselves, including disposable water bottles, plastic grocery bags, fishing nets, fishing line, plastic cups and lids, Includes packaging, balloons and straw. In marine environments, this type of debris can harm wildlife when animals mistake plastic for food, or accidentally become entangled in plastic and litter our shorelines or swim out to sea.
Plastic does not biodegrade. Instead, once it is released into the environment, it breaks down into smaller and smaller pieces the longer it is exposed to the sun; a process called photodegradation. Any plastic particle with a diameter of less than 5 mm is classified as a microplastic. Although small, these plastic fragments can have a huge impact on the health of the ocean.
Plastic Bag Pollution Facts!
Some microplastics can start small and end up in the ocean. Microbeads were used in products such as face scrubs and exfoliators; However, microbeads were being phased out under national legislation in 2015.
Even clothes release microplastics. These “microfibers” are the result of washing polyester, rayon, and other synthetic fabrics. In a recent study, 97% of all microplastics found in beach sand in national parks are microfibres. Although wastewater treatment plants filter out most microfibers, some microfibers still pass through their systems and end up in our waterways and oceans.
Plastic is a serious threat to our oceans and waterways. Birds, turtles, fish and other marine life ingest plastic pieces mistaking them for fish eggs, plankton, jellyfish or other food sources. Every year, millions of sea creatures, both large and small, die from complications related to plastic debris – their stomachs may be full of plastic they cannot digest, or they may become fatally trapped in the debris.
Harmful chemical pollutants can also bind to plastics and increase the toxicity of plastic debris eaten by animals. The risks to human health from microplastics in seafood are currently being assessed.
Plastic Pollution Facts
Although the dangers of plastic may seem overwhelming, individual actions can make a big difference! Be a part of the solution! Here’s why: The ocean is said to be the life support of the earth, 97% of the world’s water is present in the ocean. We rely on it to moderate our climate, absorb CO2 and it is the number one source of protein for more than a billion people.
However, at the rate at which we are polluting the ocean with approximately 12.7 million tons of plastic per year, the damage we are causing to marine life and our ecosystem is becoming irreparable. Our actions in 10 years will determine the state of the ocean for the next 10,000 years.
The plastic waste statistics below show
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