Plastic Pollution

  • Category
    Environment
  • Published
    22nd Jul, 2019

More than 300 women will join a round-the-world voyage known as Exxpedition, launching in October to highlight the devastating impact of plastic pollution in the oceans and conduct scientific research into the escalating crisis.

Context

More than 300 women will join a round-the-world voyage known as Exxpedition, launching in October to highlight the devastating impact of plastic pollution in the oceans and conduct scientific research into the escalating crisis.

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More on news:

  • Millions of tonnes of plastic, from food packaging to fishing gear enter the sea each year, leading some marine experts to warn that there could be more plastic than fish in our oceans by 2050.
  • The two-year all-female voyage comprises scientists, teachers, filmmakers, product designers, photographers and athletes will collect samples from some of the planet’s most important and diverse marine environments to build a picture of the state of the seas.
  • The 38,000 nautical mile trip will cover the Arctic, the Galapagos Islands, the South Pacific islands and central ocean areas where plastic accumulates because of circulating currents.

WWF (World Wide Fund) Report 2019 on plastic waste pollution

The Report describes a rather alarming scenario:

  • 75% of the plastic ever produced in the world is already waste and almost half of the plastic that exists today was produced after the year 2000,
  • In 2016, the production reached 396 million tons (53 kg/person), resulting in the emission of 2 billion tons of CO2 into the atmosphere, and it is expected that by 2030 plastic production could increase by a further 40%,
  • Given that only 20% of plastic waste is recycled, Carbon dioxide emissions from burning – one of the most popular methods of disposal for end-of-life plastic, could triple.

Where does ocean plastic come from?

  • According to the National Ocean Service, the vast majority of ocean pollution around 80 % comes from the land. It’s often caused by something called nonpoint source pollution, which occurs when the rain or melting snow picks up garbage on the ground, carrying the runoff into waterways.
  • Smaller waterways like rivers tend to wash a ton of plastic into the ocean, with 10 of these rivers doing most of the destructive work.
  • World Economic Forum reports that 90 % of the plastic in our oceans comes from just eight rivers in Asia and two in Africa: the Yangtze, Indus, Yellow, Hai He, Ganges, Pearl, Amur, Mekong, Nile, and Niger.
  • All of these rivers lie near communities with high populations and lacklustre waste management systems, making it easy for plastic waste to drift into the water.

Key facts related to ocean pollution 

  • Since the 1950s, humans have generated about 8.3 billion metric tons of plastic. The substance has now outpaced all man-made materials besides steel and cement, and most of it turns into trash.
  • About half of the plastic produced was made in the past 13 years. By 2050, around 12 billion metric tons of plastic could wind up in landfills or the natural world.
  • The United Nations Environment Programme estimates that every square mile of ocean contains roughly 46,000 pieces of floating plastic.
  • The world’s largest collection of floating trash is the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, a collection of debris that lies between California and Hawaii.
  • Up to 85 % of plastic pollution found on shorelines is microplastics. These tiny fragmented pieces of plastic break off when the material is left to degrade under the sun’s UV rays, and they are often consumed by animals that live near or in the ocean.
  • According to UNESCO, plastic waste accounts for the deaths of more than a million seabirds every year, along with over 100,000 marine mammals.

What can ocean plastics are used for?

  • Clothing companies are spinning ocean plastics into new threads, shoes, and accessories. Adidas has found enormous success with its Boost line of running shoes, sourced from plastic and fishnet fibers, while Timberland has long used recycled plastic bottles to form the soles of their boots. Fashion brands have also turned ocean plastic into yoga pants, swim trunks, jackets, jeans, bracelets, and sunglasses.
  • Soma and Parley made noise this spring when the companies collaborated on a limited-edition reusable glass bottle featuring a soft blue sleeve. The sleeve was molded from ocean plastics collected near islands or coastlines, and through this little blue accent, Soma and Parley hoped to spark conversations about pollution. A portion of all sales went towards Parley’s plastic program.
  • Through the collective NextWave Plastics, major furniture and electronics retailers are also adding ocean plastics to their manufacturing process. The group’s mission is to create supply chains out of the trash in our oceans, and it’s already off to a great start.
  • Members like HP are making printer ink cartridges out of plastic bottles from Haitian waterways, while recent additions like IKEA are seeking to use ocean pollution as a raw material in home goods and furnishings. General Motors, Dell, and six other companies also belong to the collective.

How can we stop ocean plastic pollution?

  • Replace single-use plastics, like water bottles, disposable cutlery, bags, and straws as we can with reusable options.
  • Ocean advocacy groups also recommend ditching microbeads, the tiny plastic particles embedded in many soaps, scrubs, and toothpastes. Because they’re so small, microbeads are especially harmful pollutants. Marine animals can easily gobble them up once they enter the ocean, so when you’re shopping for beauty and hygiene products, avoid those problematic little beads.

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