Essay on plastic and garbage

There are two types of plastics that float: polyethelene, which is used to make milk jugs and plastic bags, and polypropolene, which is used for things like bottle caps, straws and dairy containers. As they travel out to sea plastics get ground down into small, hard cubes, which can be eaten by marine animals. Plastics are also home to microbes in a phenomenon dubbed the " plastisphere ". These microbes may be simply using the plastic to float around the ocean, but there is some evidence they may play a role breaking down the plastic. Plastics should become more abundant as they break down in size, but recent research found the concentration of the smallest particles, between a few microns and a few millimetres, was much lower than expected.

Scientists have found evidence of microplastics in deep-sea sediments from the Atlantic Ocean, Mediterranean Sea and Indian Ocean. An analysis of waters around Australia found on average there were around 4, microplastic fragments per square kilometre, although some hotspots had concentrations of around 15, to 23, The vast majority of the microplastic fragments came from plastic packaging such as cups, bottles, bags, as well as fragments of fishing gear. Dr Wilcox said coastal pollution was an even greater problem for biodiversity than in the open ocean.

His research has estimated that between 5, and 15, sea turtles are entangled each year by derelict fishing gear washing ashore in northern Australia alone. The second biggest issue is the impact of eating plastic — it is estimated around 90 per cent of seabirds are doing so.

Ingestion of plastic can also cause toxic chemicals such as phthalates — a plasticiser that effects the hormone system — to leach into the animal. He said one way of doing this was to introduce container deposit schemes, which had been shown to reduce the amount of drink containers in the environment by 60 per cent.

According to Professor Holmes, the world may have to move to fully biodegradable plastics, made out of plants. But these have drawbacks. Professor Holmes said plastics that cannot be recycled — such as those used in plastic bags, or expanded polystyrene foam used in coffee cups and packaging around electronic goods — must be responsibly disposed into landfill or by burning. If you have inside knowledge of a topic in the news, contact the ABC. ABC teams share the story behind the story and insights into the making of digital, TV and radio content.

Read about our editorial guiding principles and the standards ABC journalists and content makers follow. Learn more. Space Nature Humans Technology Programs. ABC Science. By Genelle Weule. This bag will do a lot of damage before it starts to break down in the ocean. Getty Images: Paul Kennedy. Plastic is woven into the fabric of our lives.

The problem of plastics

How much plastic goes into the ocean? An estimated 8 million tonnes of plastic entered the ocean in Plastics break down into small fragments in the ocean. It was a treasured waterway and civic point of pride.

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As many as 72, tons flow downstream each year, mostly during the monsoon. In the Pasig was declared biologically dead. The Pasig River Rehabilitation Commission, established in , is working to clean up the river, with some signs of success. The remaining challenges are clearly visible every day. The river is fed by 51 tributaries, some of them overflowing with plastic waste from squatter settlements that cantilever precariously over creek banks. A tributary near Chinatown, where rickety shanties are wedged between modern buildings, is so choked with plastic debris you can walk across it, forgoing the footbridge.

Last fall Break Free From Plastic, a coalition including Greenpeace and other groups, cleaned a beach on Freedom Island, which is advertised as an ecotourism district; volunteers picked up 54, pieces of plastic, from shoes to food containers. By the time I visited a few weeks later, the beach was littered again with bottles, wrappers, and shopping bags. The scene in Manila is typical of large, overcrowded urban centers across Asia.

The Philippines is a densely populated nation of million people that is still struggling with the most basic public health issues, including waterborne diseases such as typhoid and bacterial diarrhea. Manila has a metropolitan garbage collection system that stretches across 17 separate local governments—a source of chaos and inefficiency. In the region was already running out of land to safely dump garbage. The shortage of landfill space, and thus the crisis, continues today.

Armando Siena, 34, is one of them. He and his wife, Angie, 31, have lived their entire lives surrounded by trash. They were born on Smokey Mountain, an internationally notorious dump that was officially closed in the s. The flat is in a garbage-filled slum named Aroma, next to another slum named Happyland. Plastic soup containers are high-value finds, paying 20 pesos 38 cents a kilogram.

The Plastic Soup Photo Essay

Siena sorts and sells his load to a junk shop owned by his uncle, who trucks the waste to recycling plants on the outskirts of Manila. Waste pickers like Siena are part of the solution, some activists argue; they just need a living wage. In the Baseco waterfront slum in Manila, a tiny recycling shop operated by the Plastic Bank of Vancouver, British Columbia, pays a premium for bottles and hard plastic collected by waste pickers.

It then sells that plastic at a higher price to multinationals, which market their recycled products as socially responsible. Siegler, the Vermont economist, has worked in enough countries and run enough numbers to be skeptical of such schemes. Much of it consists of sachets—tear-off packets that once held a single serving of shampoo, toothpaste, coffee, condiments, or other products.

Solutions to plastic pollution

Sachets blow around Manila like leaves falling from trees. Colored chips of plastic—collected, washed, and sorted by hand—dry on the banks of the Buriganga. About , people work in the informal recycling industry in and around Dhaka, where 18 million inhabitants generate some 11, tons of waste a day. When Greenpeace cleaned the Freedom Island beach, it posted a tally of the brand names of the sachets its volunteers had collected.

After Malaysia Airlines Flight disappeared from radar screens in March while on its way from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, the search for it extended from Indonesia to the southern Indian Ocean. It captivated a global audience for weeks. No sign of the wreckage appeared. On several occasions, when satellite images revealed collections of objects floating on the sea surface, hopes soared that they would turn out to be aircraft parts. It was all trash—pieces of broken shipping containers, abandoned fishing gear, and of course, plastic shopping bags.

How long does plastic last in the ocean?

Kathleen Dohan, a scientist and the president of Earth and Space Research in Seattle, saw opportunity in the horror: The images from space were pushing a problem into view that had long been neglected. The most heartening thing about the plastic waste problem is the recent explosion of attention to it, and even of serious, if scattered, efforts to address it. A partial list of the good news since would include, in no particular order: Kenya joined a growing list of nations that have banned plastic bags, imposing steep fines and jail time on violators.

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France said it would ban plastic plates and cups by The industry is phasing them out. Corporations are responding to public opinion. It and other multinationals, including PepsiCo, Amcor, and Unilever, have pledged to convert to percent reusable, recyclable, or compostable packaging by Individuals are making a difference too. Actor Adrian Grenier has lent his celebrity to the campaign against the plastic drinking straw. And Boyan Slat, 23, from the Netherlands, is charging ahead with his teenage vow to clean up the largest garbage patch in the North Pacific.

Globally, 18 percent of plastic is recycled, up from nearly zero in Plastic bottles are one of the most widely recycled products.

But other items, such as drinking straws, are harder to recycle and often discarded. Not all plastics are recyclable. Beverage bottles, food jars, clothing and carpet fiber, some shampoo and mouthwash bottles. Detergent and bleach bottles, snack boxes, milk jugs, toys, buckets, crates, plant pots, garden furniture, trash bins. Credit cards, window and doorframes, gutters, pipes and fittings, wire and cable sheathing, synthetic leather. Bottle tops, drinking straws, lunch boxes, insulated coolers, fabric and carpet fiber, tarps, diapers. Plastic-foam cups, egg boxes, meat trays, packing peanuts, coat hangers, yogurt containers, insulation, toys.

Nylon fabrics, baby bottles, compact disks, medical storage containers, car parts, watercooler bottles. All of these measures help at some level—even beach cleanups, futile as they sometimes seem. A beach cleanup hooked Richard Thompson on the plastic problem a quarter century ago. But the real solution, he now thinks, is to stop plastic from entering the ocean in the first place—and then to rethink our whole approach to the amazing stuff.

There are two fundamental ways industry can help, if it wants or is forced to. First, along with academic scientists such as Jambeck, it can design new plastics and new plastic products that are either biodegradable or more recyclable see You Can Help Turn the Tide on Plastic. New materials and more recycling, along with simply avoiding unnecessary uses of the stuff, are the long-term solutions to the plastic waste problem. But the fastest way to make a big difference, Siegler says, is low tech. Siegler has proposed a worldwide tax of a penny on every pound of plastic resin manufactured.

plastic pollution | Sources & Effects |

The tax would raise roughly six billion dollars a year that could be used to finance garbage collection systems in developing nations. The idea never caught on. Plastic pollution. Article Media. Info Print Print. Table Of Contents. Submit Feedback. Thank you for your feedback. Introduction The problem of plastics Plastic pollution in oceans and on land Pollution by plastics additives Solving the problem.

Written By: Charles Moore.