The problem of plastic pollution in the ocean has been widely concerned by the media and the public in the past two years. But data shows that about 80% of all plastic waste found in the ocean comes from land. Plastic pollution has a very harmful effect on both the marine and terrestrial environments.
Earth plagued by plastic pollution
The widespread use of plastics and the linear consumption pattern of “production-use-discard” are bringing global pollution and are intensifying.
According to statistics, 1 million plastic bottles are sold every minute in the world, and 91% of them are not recycled. Since the invention of plastics, humans have produced about 8.3 billion tons of plastics, of which 6.3 billion tons have been turned into plastic waste, arbitrarily discarded in the natural environment, or with other garbage into the landfill. If we continue to produce and consume plastic at the current rate without properly recycling it, by 2050, 12 billion tons of plastic will be in the landfill. This not only brings great harm to the environment but also a great waste of petroleum resources that could be recycled.
Plastic waste jeopardizes ecosystems and human health
The decomposition of plastic takes about 1000 years, and when it breaks down, it releases toxic substances to the soil and water. Researchers from the Leibniz Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries (IGB) warn that when these toxic substances enter soil and freshwater waters, they will have long-term effects on ecosystems. The study estimates that plastics can be broken down into microplastic particles of less than 5 mm; the surface of these microplastic particles carries pathogenic microorganisms that affect soil health and ecological regulation, and ultimately have a detrimental effect on our ecosystem. In addition, nano-plastics smaller than micro-plastics can pass through and even change the cell barrier in animals, affecting cell membranes such as the blood-brain barrier, and then cause biochemical reactions, all of which change organisms and our ecosystem.
In addition to destroying the ground ecosystem, plastic pollution has a profound impact on wildlife on land. * Recent studies have shown that plastic waste can also affect the growth of animals and the success rate of reproduction. This is due to the hormonal disorder caused by chemicals released by plastic decomposition. A report by the London Zoological Society noted that disrupting endocrine chemicals (EDCs) may deprive wild animals of their ability to reproduce.
In addition, the decomposition of plastics in landfills can cause endocrine-disrupting chemicals to leak into the environment, even from the mother to the newborn through breast milk, because it accumulates in the fat glands that produce breast milk.
Whether it is land or marine animals, the undoubted fact is that they are all directly affected by discarded plastics. And this impact* will eventually affect the human food chain. The effects of waste plastics on the degradation of toxic substances entering the soil and freshwater are long-term and catastrophic. Therefore, the disposal of discarded plastic waste has reached an urgent point.
Protecting the ecological environment with a sustainable circular economy model
The plastic products can be soft and flexible, have large strength and toughness span, good durability, easy processing, low price, and convenient use, which bring great convenience to industrial production and people's life. It is neither necessary nor completely prohibiting the use of plastic products. The reality, * The feasible way out is to transform the existing linear economy model of "production, use, and disposal" into a "circular economy model", which can meet the demand for plastics in daily life production, and ensure the human and the environment. sustainable development.
The international community is calling for the establishment of a circular economy, improving the recycling and recycling of various materials, improving recycling rates, and the circular economy model of plastic products is also an important aspect. Not long ago, the European Parliament passed a bill, in 2021 will be a total ban on disposable plastics, including disposable tableware, disposable plastic plates, and plastic cotton swabs; in 2025, plastic packaging must contain at least 25% Recycled ingredients; by 2030, all plastic packaging in the EU countries will be recycled.