Enrivonmental Issues (Plasitcs, Non-biodegrability, Waste Disposal, Recycling)

Enrivonmental Issues (Plasitcs, Non-biodegrability, Waste Disposal, Recycling)

Plastic Pollution

  • Plastics are widely used due to their durability, resilience and versatility. However, these same features contribute to significant environmental issues when it comes to their disposal.
  • Large quantities of discarded plastic often end up in the world’s oceans and waterways, creating serious threats to marine life. Animals can ingest plastic or become entangled in it, leading to injury and death.
  • Plastic debris can also leach potentially harmful chemicals into the environment, with unknown impacts on ecosystems and human health.

Non-Biodegradability of Plastics

  • Many plastic materials are non-biodegradable. This means that they cannot be broken down by natural processes into harmless substances. Instead, they persist in the environment for hundreds to thousands of years.
  • Over time, these plastics break down into smaller pieces known as microplastics. Microplastics can more easily enter the food chain and carry toxic chemicals.

Waste Disposal

  • The safe and effective disposal of plastic waste is a major challenge. Diverse types of plastics require different disposal methods, and not all are suitable for recycling.
  • Landfills are often used for plastic disposal, but they take up valuable land space and risk leaching chemicals into soil and water.
  • Incineration, or burning of plastic waste, can generate energy. However, this process can release toxic gases and contribute to air pollution unless carefully managed with appropriate filtering technology.

Recycling and Reuse

  • Recycling is one potential solution for tackling the plastic waste problem. It involves the collection and processing of waste plastic into new products.
  • However, challenges exist in recycling due to the need for waste sorting, cleaning and processing. Not all types of plastic can be recycled, and recycled plastics often have lower quality than virgin materials.
  • Reuse of plastic products is another approach to reducing plastic waste. Plastic containers can often be cleaned and reused, and re-purposing or upcycling of plastic waste can lead to creative new uses.

Sustainable Alternatives to Plastics

  • One potential way forward is the development and use of biodegradable plastics. These are plastic materials that can be broken down by microbial activity into environmentally benign substances.
  • However, most biodegradable plastics require specific conditions to degrade, and may still persist in the environment if these conditions are not met.
  • Other sustainable alternatives include switching back to glass, metal or other reusable materials where possible, and reducing our overall use and consumption of disposable plastic products.