Impact Of Plastics On The Environment
Plastic is extremely helpful and practical – and it’s everywhere. It is critical to our modern way of life.
Plastics have been used for around 80 years. During that period, they had a huge impact on our lives and brought substantial benefits such as convenience, health, and safety. Plastics’ weight-saving benefits over metal have substantially increased automobile fuel efficiency, reducing our reliance on foreign oil and lowering carbon dioxide emissions. Plastics are also used in safety helmets and medical gadgets.
In terms of litter in our seas and landfill space consumption, single-use and disposable plastic products (e.g., plastic beverage bottles and plastic shopping bags) pose the greatest threat. Only around 20% of plastic beverage containers in the United States are recycled.
Most businesses are now jumping on the “go green” bandwagon and seeking for ways to market their plastic businesses through the use of specific words and phrases in their corporate mission statements and sales literature. Sustainability, bio renewable feedstocks, environmentally friendly, carbon footprint, and responsible care are all concepts that are often used.
Unfortunately, most of the more than 100 billion pounds of single use/disposable plastic products made each year across the world are not recycled and end up as litter or in landfills.
Impact of Plastic:
Changes in the Climate :
Plastic production and incineration will account for 10-13% of the world’s yearly carbon budget by 2050, according to current forecasts.
Entanglement in or ingestion of plastic harms 700 species, ranging from microscopic zooplankton to fish, birds, and the largest whales.
Social & Economic
There is growing evidence of widespread human ingestion of plastic from contaminated food and water, particularly microplastics. Although toxicological risks are poorly understood, toxic chemicals may bioaccumulate within body tissue.
An estimated $622 million is lost every year in the Asia-Pacific region alone due to waste and clean-up costs, affecting the livelihoods of communities reliant on tourism.
One of the technologies that may help reduce the impact of waste is to the utilization of biodegradable plastics.
What Are Biodegradable Plastics?
When bacteria in the environment “metabolize” and break down the plastic structure, biodegradable plastic decomposes organically. Biodegradable plastics can be injection molded (for example, disposable cutlery, medical parts, hard packaging, and so forth) or solid (food containers, leaf collection bags, water bottles, etc.).
Currently, two main forms of biodegradable plastics exist:
Bio-based plastics :
Plastics made from renewable source materials (sometimes referred to as “bioplastics”)
Fossil fuel-based plastics:
Plastics are made from standard petrochemicals but tailored to degrade faster through oxidation or hydrolysis processes.
Biodegradable polymers provide the following advantages:
- Biodegradable plastic creates long-lasting items for food storage, transportation, and building construction.
- The majority of biodegradable polymers are free of the environmentally hazardous compounds found in traditional plastics.
- Most are not derived from petroleum, as are traditional plastics.
- Most are composed entirely of natural materials that, under the correct conditions, can be safely returned to the environment at the end of their lives.
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