Plastic has done more bad than good. It has created a problem for the environment as well as human health. 5 million tonnes of plastic is produced in the UK alone, of which only a small fraction gets recycled.
If you look at the global scale, hundreds of thousands of millions of tonnes of plastic waste is produced that leads to these problems. People argue that plastic pollution gets unneeded attention and distracts from tackling the climate crisis.
But they need to understand that this topic is not a different issue. Let’s look at how plastic production and its waste are directly linked to the climate crisis.
Production of Plastic
Around 90% of plastic is produced from gas and oil. And the extraction, transportation, and refining of fuels to plastic release carbon emissions that in a year are similar to the CO2 emission by 189 coal power stations. And due to an increased demand for plastic, the carbon footprint continues to expand.
What Happens To Plastic Waste?
1) In landfills
Plastic waste is dumped in landfills, where it takes around 100 years to decompose. This time period is longer for hard plastic.
Moreover, the food stored within the plastic container and dumped in landfills breaks down to produce methane in the absence of oxygen. Methane is another harmful greenhouse gas that escapes from landfills into the atmosphere every year.
2) In environment
Annually, approximately 10 million tonnes of plastic end up in the sea, and this creates large areas of waste like the pacific trash vortex. In addition to this, micro plastics are a growing concern.
These are so small that they can be taken in by small organisms like the phytoplankton, the basis of the ecosystem in the ocean. This plankton absorbs CO2 and releases oxygen, and thus contributes to marine life. But due to these micro plastics, their population is decreasing, so CO2 is no longer being absorbed in amounts as it was before.
Around half of the household waste is incinerated for the generation of energy in the UK. It can be seen as a way to reuse waste to produce something valuable.
But it depends on how the organic waste is burnt if the organic waste is burnt in an anaerobic digester to produce biogas, and then it’s a resource. But if it’s simply burnt just like that, then it will harm the environment.
How Can The Plastic Issue Be Resolved?
The largest culprit of plastic production is the packaging. Around 150 million tonnes of plastic production is owed to packaging.
Reducing the need and demand for plastic and opting for alternatives will, in turn, lower its production.
Make simple and easy changes in life by swapping to alternatives like using reusable bottles instead of plastic bottles, using reusable bags instead of plastic bags, buying things lose that you can, and using schemes that aim towards refilling items like soap, cleansers, and shampoos.
Recycling is another thing that reduces plastic waste. Approximately 5800kWh of energy can be saved if only 1 ton of plastic is recycled.
This amount of energy is enough to power an average household in the UK for 2 years. Visit www.utilitybidder.co.uk to get more information.
Going plastic-free takes time and effort. So if everyone contributes a little on their behalf, then we can create an impact on a global level and thus succeed in tackling the climate crisis.
In addition to doing things on your level, you can also sign petitions and support organizations that reduce plastic packaging and thus plastic waste.