We hear more and more about plastic pollution, but what are the plastic pollution facts and solutions?
Plastic garbage is everywhere, but especially at sea, it is causing great concern with ever growing, floating garbage patches in our oceans. To date at least four such patches are known and there may be more yet to discover. But not only is plastic waste creating islands at sea. Microscopic
plastic particles, microplastics
have started turning up everywhere in our environment and can now be found in food, animals and even drinking water.
While there have been many solutions suggested for the plastic waste found in nature the only real solution is to stop contributing to the pollution. The obvious first step is, of course, to stop polluting nature with plastic waste, through proper waste handling, but this is a global problem that will be difficult and take time to solve. What are the plastic pollution facts and solutions? In this article, we give you the questions and reveal part of the answers.
Plastic waste by country chart
Get your plastic pollution facts and solutions straight! Here are the top plastic waste producers, according to 2018 numbers:
- China – 59 079 741 tonnes
- United States – 37 825 550 tonnes
- Germany – 14 476 561 tonnes
- Brazil – 11 852 055 tonnes
- Japan – 7 993 489 tonnes
What is plastic made of?
Plastic belongs to a group of materials called polymers, which consist of very long molecules that hook into each other giving the materials their special properties. Polymers can be made of many different materials found in nature. Some of them, such as latex, occur naturally, while others are manufactured.
Many of the early, industrially produced, plastics were made from petroleum. Still many types of plastic are made this way, but in recent years we’ve seen a lot of development towards plastic materials with a lower carbon footprint and less damaging to nature.
Today it’s not uncommon to find completely biodegradable plastics in products ranging from compost bags to knives forks and straws. Often they are made out of starch from plants such as maize and in principle, they are safe to consume along with your food and will degrade quickly if left in nature. Being biodegradable doesn’t make plastic waste harmless to nature, though it will, eventually, break down into harmless substances, normally found there.
Facts about plastic waste
Everyone has their own ideas about plastic waste. Here we’re trying to give you the real plastic pollution facts and solutions:
- Plastic waste that ends up in nature comes from incorrect garbage handling, but also from weathering and wear of plastic materials, such as bags, water bottles and artificial turf.
- There are at least four big garbage patches in the world’s oceans. All of them contain a lot of plastic.
- Many types of plastic aren’t biodegradable. The materials are broken down, in time, by UV light, but the residual products still remain.
Solutions to plastic waste in our oceans
Although there are many ideas and solutions to the problem with garbage patches and other plastic waste in our oceans, the plastic pollution facts and solutions are still a thing of the future.
However, there are still solutions that we can start implementing today:
- Use consideration and care when handling plastics and make sure that plastic waste is handled and recycled correctly.
Use less plastic. When plastic items are the only reasonable option, choose high-quality items that will last longer and not break down.
- Choose biodegradable plastic alternatives whenever available. They will not be harmless if released in nature, but will at least degrade and disappear, eventually.
Plastic pollution is a problem long in the making that has only recently risen into the public’s consciousness. The situation has taken decades to develop and the problem will take a long time to be finally resolved.
With knowledge about plastic pollution facts and solutions, we can all start working together on a solution. Although plastic pollution is a global problem and the biggest sources may be countries in another part of the world, there is still a lot that every single person can do to mitigate and reduce their “plastic footprint”.
By reducing the amount of wear and tear plastic products that we use we can all contribute to reducing the release of microplastics and by making sure that any plastic waste is properly handled and disposed of we can all do our part. Although the problem with plastic waste is big the situation is far from hopeless.
With increasing, awareness and political pressure on the biggest culprits humanity will come together and pull through, as we have done so many times before.