- 1 Plastic Production
- 2 Problems Created By the Plastic Waste
- 3 Phases of Plastic Decomposition
- 4 Recycling Plastics
- 5 Refraining From Plastics
Our planet is dying, and the only ones to blame for its death is no one other than humans.
None of us will deny the fact stated above.
We are abusing our trees and forest, we are producing non-biodegradable plastic, we are hurting animals, and we are running out of non-renewable resources for energy.
We, humans, have exploited this planet far more than any other creation.
This is our home and looks at what we have made out of it.
As much as we think of ourselves beyond redemption now, there is still a chance to save our beloved Earth.
The world produces more than 270 million tons in just a year.
Because plastic takes more than 450 years to decompose, the pollution of plastic Waste in just a year is estimated to be more than 275 million tons.
Do you know what that means? We are producing more than the Earth can bear, and it is our home, which is paying because of our actions.
This plastic trash is dumped in oceans or a landfill, which ultimately ends up polluting the Earth.
There is an island somewhere between San Francisco and Hawaii, which is composed of 80% of the plastic discarded in the ocean.
The size of the island is considered to be twice the size of Texas (a state of the USA) and is growing at an alarming rate.
The last time that a product made out of plastic takes to decompose is ten years.
That means that the production and the Waste are increasing at an exponential rate, which will eat our planet way before we even realize.
Problems Created By the Plastic Waste
Plastic Waste is eating up our land and has been troubling our marine life as well as wildlife on the land.
The reported cases where fishes or other marine life die because of the intake of the dumped plastic are increasing day by day.
There are several marine creatures who suffer at the hands of plastic as they get stuck in these plastic wastes and then die because of the suffering.
We are losing our marine life because of the Waste we dump into the ocean, but the wildlife on Earth is not safe either.
The plastic that takes the least time to decompose has its disadvantages as well.
While decomposing, it releases toxic chemicals into the land which affect the tiniest creature living in the soil, and then this ultimately affects the whole food chain.
The plants in the soil are contaminated this way and thus, result in affecting the herbivores.
This results in affecting the Omnivores and the Carnivores as well, at the end of the food chain.
The plastic dumped in the open air can cause air pollution, as well as its toxic chemicals and gases, are released in the air.
The Waste is affecting human health in ways that one cannot comprehend as well.
So, when it is dangerous for land, water, life, and even air, why are we choosing plastic in everything we use?
Why Using Plastics When It is So Dangerous?
We ignore the fact that plastic is eating up our home just because it is more durable, preserved and avoids spills.
Plastic production is increasing day by day, even when we are well aware of the consequences of using it.
We are too profit-oriented that we are injecting ourselves with poison knowingly.
We produce plastic in millions of tons and end up disposing of them in landfills or oceans after a single-use.
The reasons for using plastics are suggested to be that it is durable and doesn’t change shape easily or breaks, it offers more protection to things which should be contained at all costs if a major tragedy, it preserves items or contents for a rather long time without getting them destroyed or contamination, prevents spillage and makes things or contents portable when contained and is reusable.
From food to things as trivial as a cover on things to prevent them from dust are made of plastics.
When one of the qualities of the plastic is that it is reusable, it has the highest share when it comes to the trash.
Phases of Plastic Decomposition
Phase I – Aerobic Phase
At first, the enzymes and catalysts on the cover of the plastic start decomposing.
They change oxygen from the air into Carbon dioxide and leave the plastic’s cover after absorbing as much moisture as they can.
Phase II – Anaerobic, Methanogenic Unsteady Phase
When the oxygen concentration has drastically decreased, the second phase starts.
In this phase, the microbes or enzymes start eating the particulars themselves.
The larger polymers are then converted to monomers or methane.
Phase III – Anaerobic, Methanogenic Steady Phase
In the final phase, the process of methanogenesis starts.
As the polymer is eaten up by the microbes, the methane or monomer is converted into Carbon dioxide.
This process continues until all that is left behind is humus.
We can try our best eliminating plastic production and may end up using other useful and reusable packaging materials but how to take care of the existing plastic production? Recycling can be the only option for it.
Most parts of the world act of the following eight steps in order to recycle plastic:
The plastic waste is separated from the un-recyclable contaminants.
The Waste is hand-picked and separated from the other stuff.
The plastic Waste is washed in flood tanks and then are passed through magnets.
The magnets remove any form of metallic impurity in the plastic whereas, the flood tanks allows it to be separated from any non-metallic impurity.
Any further impurity is removed by melting the plastics.
Every element has its own melting point, and when plastic is melted, if there is any solid left behind, it is separated.
The plastic is then chopped into pellets and dried.
For further precision, the pellets again go through the flood tanks and magnets.
The pellets are then cut into consistent size, and the ones who weren’t cut properly are sent back to the beginning of the process.
The pellets are heated to the temperature of 450º C to remove any moisture.
The melted plastic is dried, cooled down and then chopped into pellets similar than the previous ones.
Refraining From Plastics
Another way of reducing plastic Waste is through refraining from it.
According to the normal demand and supply principle, plastic production is increasing because our use of plastic is increasing.
If we reduce that use of plastic, the production will decrease, and thus, the Waste will eventually fall as well.
But the question here is; if not plastic then what? There are options of paper bags replacing plastic bags for normal day to day items, cloth bags replacing them for larger and heavier items as they are more durable than paper bags, and metallic or glass bottles can replace the plastic bottles.
Another option includes technology.
Scientists are working on biodegradable polymer or plastic, which means something which will have the perks of normal plastic but won’t be a threat to our beloved planet.
Using these options might prove not to be as economical as today-plastic bags, but maybe it is better than losing our home to something that we have created ourselves.
It’s time to take responsibility and step up towards the eradication of plastics now.
Earth is our home, and we need to keep it clean and safe.