Convenience is the word of the new millennium. With this, the invention of plastic is very much welcome for its versatility and of course, convenience. It is a virtually indestructible material which can take thousands of years to disintegrate.
The use of plastic is popular all over the world. It has even replaced paper bags for grocery shopping and glass bottles for condiments like ketchup. For its usefulness and convenience, plastic is patronized by everyone who benefits from its use. However, there are environmental problems with plastic. From its production to its disposal, plastic poses several negative effects to the environment.
Plastic is made from polymer resin which can easily be manipulated into a desired shape. Polymer resin is obtained from a byproduct of natural gas, petroleum, and other similar substances. This dependency tells you one thing – plastic is derived from oil which, as of the present, is known to not have supplies that will last forever. Apart from this fact, the production of plastic alone is a source of major air and water pollution.
True enough, though, plastics can be recycled. But contrary to what the public knows, only a little amount of plastic enters a recycling production plant. The most common of these plastics are the PET bottles used for soft drink bottles and HDPE bottles which are used for shampoo bottles and firm plastic containers. A range of ten to thirty percent of these plastics is recycled every year.
This figure leaves possibly as much as 90 percent of plastic products to be disposed of at landfills. The landfills of today have problems of their own in that space is becoming more and more limited as the days go by. In fact, an overfilled landfill is a problem that needs an immediate solution in some states.
Aside from the problems with overfilled landfills, plastic dumped in them causes other problems as well. Since plastic is not biodegradable, it stays in the landfill indefinitely contributing to the space constriction problem. Plastics in a landfill also pose harm to birds looking for food such that they get entangled with plastic bags and plastic rings which can choke them or break their neck.
To remedy this situation, industry officials look at plastic incineration as a means to dispose plastic. Another process that will help dispose plastic is known as pyrolysis. This process bakes plastics so that it can be reused in chemical and oil refineries. While these two processes dispose plastic, it also contributes to serious air pollution. Both processes are also much more expensive than recycling.
Lastly, a significant number of plastic ends up in the ocean which is often preyed on by marine animals. This is very hazardous to the food chain because humans may consume fish and other marine animals that have plastics in their diet.
These are the problems with plastic that everyone should know of. As much as possible, do everything you can to substitute the use of plastic with something more environment friendly. We only have one world and now is the perfect time to start taking care of it.
About the Author
Polymer resin is obtained from a byproduct of natural gas, petroleum, and other similar substances.