Plastic waste grows in many different ways and it has an effect on lands, waterways and oceans. It was first produced in the 1940’s and over the years, its use by humans has increased to enormous rates because it is cheap, strong and moldable. According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, in 2011 plastics created more than twelve percent of municipal solid waste. In the 1960’s plastics created less than one percent of municipal solid waste. Next year alone, over 300 million tons will be produced worldwide. A high number of plastic disposable items or products are made for single-use; therefore, they will be disposed of within one year. As a result, consumers of the different types of plastics use them for a single reason and throw them away or recycle them.
Crude oil is the substance that produces plastic. The oil is a non-renewable resource and once used, it cannot be replaced. Approximately 90 million barrels of oil a day are needed worldwide and 3.2 million of the barrels are used to produce plastic and chemicals. Next year alone, over 300 million tons of plastic will be manufactured. Plastic does not biodegrade; it just fragments and will not decompose.
Chemicals that are needed to make plastics so resilient have the possibility of harming people. The production and disposal of it also contribute to a variety of environmental issues. Chemicals from plastics expose people through the air, dust, water, food and use of consumer products multiple times daily. Phthalates are used as plasticizers for food packaging, manufacturing medical devices and a variety of other things. This chemical compound is known to cause reproductive and developmental issues because it impersonates a normal hormone. Eighty percent of babies and nearly every adult have some levels of phthalates present in their bodies.
Polycarbonate bottles and the linings of food and beverage cans may contain bisphenol A. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that 93 percent of people had certain amounts of bisphenol A in their urine. In addition, high exposure to bisphenol A chemicals may cause an increased rate of heart disease and diabetes in some people. Plastic is so resilient, that even when it is buried deep underneath the earth, it still has an impact on the environment. Putting it in landfills generates waste that can have an impact on the future. Chlorinated plastics can release dangerous chemicals into the soil, which may get into groundwater or other types of water bases. As a result, serious harm can come to those animals that drink it.
There is the possibility that plastic waste can poison animals, which in turn can seriously affect human food consumption. The waste is detrimental to large marine mammals because some marine species after dying have had large portions of plastics in their stomachs. Plastic bags cause a tremendous problem in oceans because they are mistaken as food for some species. Death ultimately occurs because the plastic interferes with the animal’s digestive system causing it to starve and they block their air passageways. Reports have shown that every year large numbers of marine mammals have perished because of eating plastic bags. Entanglement is also a serious problem because once a marine mammal is trapped by plastic it restricts the animals movement therefore preventing them from hunting for food. Reports have determined that over 400,000 marine mammals die yearly because of plastic wastes in oceans.
Some things are being done to reduce plastic waste in the future. A good solution is to make plastic that can be reused instead of a disposable product that has to be thrown away so quickly. This involves creating plastic that can be recycled easier from the beginning by using less material during the processing and make more recycling facilities available.