PLASTIC is a material that has conquered us and although in the beginning of its appearance seemed appealing, convenient and cheap it turns out that it´s cost it is severe to public health and the environment and is killing us slowly. The prominence of plastic pollution is correlated with plastics being inexpensive and durable, which lends to high levels of plastics used by humans. However, it is slow to degrade.
Recent studies have shown that plastics in the ocean when they decompose due to exposure to sun, rain, and other environmental conditions, result the release of toxic chemicals such as Bisphenol A and due to the increased volume of plastics in the ocean, decomposition is slowed down.
In the process, toxic chemicals such as Bisphenol A and polystyrene can leach into waters from some plastics.
Polystyrene pieces and nurdles (are the most common types of plastic pollution in oceans, and combined with plastic bags and food containers make up the majority of oceanic debris.
Chemical compounds used in plastics, such as Bisphenol A (high-production volume chemical extensively used in the manufacturing of polycarbonate plastic, found in food containers, plastic bottles, children toys, household equipment, medical devices and many more) and Phthalates, are released in the environment and contaminate wildlife and humans. Plastic pollution affects lands, waterways oceans and living organisms, including humans through exposure to chemicals within plastics that cause interruptions in biological functions.
Sources: US Environmental Protection Agency, World Health Organization, PlasticsEurope, The World Foundation for Natural Science, Greenpeace
BPA and phthalates imitate the action of natural hormones in our body. There are increasing public health concerns that BPA, phthalates and other plasticizers increase the risk for asthma, cancer, infertility, low sperm count, genital deformity, obesity, respiratory diseases, diabetes, heart disease, liver problems, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.
-Global production of plastic is about 300 million tons/year, an amount that corresponds to 3,4 times Europe.
-European Union contributes to the global production with 60 million tons/per year (21% of global production).
-Most of plastic is used in disposable products that end up at waste landfills after a short period of use. About 6 million tons of global production ends up in the oceans.
-It is estimated that Earth oceans contain six times more plastic than natural plankton.
-The estimated duration of plastic decomposition in the sea is:
Plastic bag, 20 years / Plastic cup, 50 years / Plastic bottle, 450 years.
-According to the Monterey Bay Aquarium, globally, up to 1 million seabirds and 100,000 marine mammals and sea turtles die each year from eating plastic.
-The greatest challenge to the recycling of plastics is the difficulty of automating the sorting of plastic wastes, making it labor-intensive. Although recycle is popular, nevertheless the purity of the material tends to degrade with each reuse cycle.
The best way to manage solid waste is to not produce it in the first place