Article extracted from Asian Diver Issue 02/2020 (155)
The Sea of Single-Use Plastic
Text by Sitaarah Joshi and Nora Ismail
For decades, the debris of single-use plastics has troubled our ecosystems. Plastics are used daily, commonly observed in the form of shopping bags, disposable cutlery, straws, soda and water bottles, coffee stirrers, food packaging, and so on. Around 300 million tonnes of plastic are discarded every year– and half of it is disposable. Only around 10 to 13 percent of plastic items are recycled. The immediate step to a resolution seems clear: We must reduce our plastic usage, embrace sustainable products on a large scale, and adopt strategies and technologies that facilitate more effective recycling.
Plastics Can’t Be That Bad, Right?
“Plastic takes years and years to degrade, and during this time, it releases toxic chemicals that also make their way into our food and water supplies.”
The presence of petroleum in disposable plastic makes it tough to recycle, as new chemicals and raw materials are needed every time. Moreover, only a limited number of items actually incorporate recycled plastic. Petroleum-based plastic is non-biodegradable and ends up either in landfills or finds its way into water bodies like the ocean. Plastic takes years and years to degrade, and during this time, it releases toxic chemicals that also make their way into our food and water supplies. These poisonous chemicals are now being discovered in human bloodstreams – with research revealing that they disrupt the endocrine system. This could potentially cause infertility, birth defects, cancer, and several other illnesses.
As of today, approximately 127 countries have administered some sort of measure to supervise the number of plastic bags used. Many countries, cities and regions have either agreed or attempted to reduce the amount of single-use plastic units. This much-needed change is finally being implemented beyond just a governmental level, with organisations and individuals taking charge as well.
Stay tuned to find out more about these initiatives!