If you take a look around, you will most likely see how many of the things we use every day are made out of plastic. From food packaging to cars, plastic is an integral part of our lives. Even the computer, smartphone or tablet you are reading this on is made in a high proportion out of plastic.
What a lot of people do not realize is that plastic materials are actually harmful for the environment. Why is that? Even more, what are the solutions scientists have come up with? Read on and find out more.
Life in Plastic – Is It Really That Fantastic?
There are many plastic materials used on a regular basis for a variety of products. And each of these plastic materials can have a terrible impact on the environment. Ever since the 1940s when plastic started to be manufactured at a large scale, it has taken over almost every industry known to mankind. In 2010, it was estimated that more than 30 million tons of plastic were produced – and that number is increasing with every year. In fact, some studies say that we have produced more plastic in the 21st century’s first decade than we have in the entire 20th century.
If plastic did not have such a huge impact on the environment and on our health, that wouldn’t be so shocking. But the truth is that plastic does put an enormous strain on everything that surrounds us and that it does affect us all. Here are some things you might want to know about plastics and how they affect everything around us:
· Plastic is produced with oil and chlorine – both of which are far from being “eco-friendly” in any way. What’s more, the plastic production also uses a lot of our fossil resources. With an average of 8% of the world’s oil going into plastic production, it can be said that this industry is among the largest “consumers” of fossil fuels.
· PVC production and incineration also generates dioxin – among the most poisonous substances known to mankind. Because it is a cumulative toxin (that stays in our bodies for a long time) and because it usually concentrates in carnivores, we are all at risk when it comes to it.
· Just a very small proportion of all the plastic is actually reused (in the United States, only 6.5% of it is recycled). Considering the high costs of recycling plastic ($4,000 for 1 ton of plastic bags), this is not considered to be a viable option anymore.
· The world’s oceans are crammed with plastic pieces. No less than 5.35 trillion pieces of plastic debris can be found both on the bottom of the ocean and on its surface. More than 100,000 marine creatures die every year because they get entangled in all this plastic junk. What’s more, one plastic bag can kill numerous animals – precisely because it decomposes in a very long period of time (it can take anything from 450 years to 1,000 years for certain plastic objects to decompose)
· Because it is so resistant, plastic also serves as a “means of transportation” for a wide range of alien species and this can threaten biodiversity too.
These are just some of the consequences of producing and using plastic at such high levels. Considering that the entire world uses 500 million plastic bags every year and that the average American family throws away almost 185 pounds of plastic yearly, it has become more than obvious that something has to be done about all this.
Bio Polymers – The Future
We use a lot of products made from plastic – and not just for disposable items, but also for many technologies we use on a daily too. While we might be more careful about those plastic items we don’t actually need, there are also a lot of objects made from plastic we do need and cannot be replaced with other types of materials.
The good news is that there is a solution to all this: bio polymers. Made from bio materials (rather than oil), bio polymers are a plastic material that could be the actual future of mankind. According to Metabolix Solutions, bio polymers can successfully degrade soil and water – and this makes them a lot better for the environment.
Food packaging, toys, carpet backing – anything made out of “normal” plastic can be made from bio polymers as well. Considering its ability to degrade in the environment and the fact that it are made from bio products, bio polymers can indeed provide us with a sustainable, environmentally friendly solution for the future.
The environment is much more fragile than some would like to believe. As those who inhabit the planet, we have a huge responsibility: making sure that nature is preserved, so that it can sustain us for a long time from now on.
Plastic is just one of the many environmental dangers out there – and the harsh reality is that if we don’t do anything soon, we will end up with nothing at all. As you have seen, solutions can be found. All it takes is willingness and determination.
The future belongs to all of us. And all of us should build it together!