Drowning in Plastic a serious threat.
It’s not an over exaggeration to say that we run the risk of Drowning in Plastic. Well, maybe in a literal sense, but not in an environmental disaster sort of way. It’s no secret that there is a worldwide recycling problem and plastic is the main cause.
Over the past 10 years, production of plastic has boomed with an estimated 3 billion tons produced. Of those 3 billion tons, an estimated 60 million tons of those plastics produced are still in circulation. An estimated 30 million tons have been recycled and some 10 million tons have been burnt in energy recovery or alternative disposal solutions. That leaves a staggering 2 billion tons of plastic that have been buried in landfill sites or unceremoniously dumped.
Drowning in plastic isn’t as far-fetched as we might think!
The solution for the future is a simple one, stop producing plastic! But, that doesn’t solve the here and now plastic issues that we have. Getting what we’ve already produced out of our ecco systems could take years, decades or centuries.
If we can’t stop our reliance on plastic we run the risk of permanent damage to the only planet we call home. This is not some Green Party politics that bang on about returning back to nature, this is real a world issues that is slowly poisoning the planet and us with it.
An estimated 300 million tons of plastic is produced every year. Of that, less than 3 million tons is recyclable. That levels a staggering 91% that we can’t re-use or recycle. The remaining 291 million tons of yearly plastic is disposed of in ways that beggar belief.
Most of our unwanted plastic ends up in a Landfill. When it hits the landfill a small percentage might be reused or sent to recycling, but the majority is buried where it remains for years (decades – centuries).
Most hard plastics have an unlimited shelf-life, which means that they are not biodegradable. Being a non-biodegradable material means that there is no natural process to absorb back into the natural cycle. This means that it doesn’t decomposed in a way that allows nature to take over. So, once produced, it’s here to stay.
Burying plastic solves the “out of sight” problem, but scratch the surface and a mound of plastic is visible.
Companies have played with the idea of energy recovery from waste plastic. It does work, but comes with an environmental cost of it’s own. Burning plastic (incineration) to create electricity isn’t a solution that we should start to take seriously. The side effect of burning a substance that doesn’t decompose, results in a toxic mix of poisons which pollutes the air we breathe. Solving one problem and creating another isn’t a solution, it’s a fix and a bad one at that.
Education and Funding
Educating the poorer communities is as important as educating the wealthier. Society has to be the changing factor in all of this. If we start to think clean and healthy environment before we think about the convenience factor of plastic, then change will happen. More importantly, it will happen in our lifetime.
Making significant changes to the way that we deal with refuse problems isn’t going to be cheap or simple. It’s not just a government problem either, it’s our problem and we all need to do our bit. The Solution isn’t a simple one, so we need to take responsibility for our own waste and use less plastic and recycle.
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