Plastic isn’t just about the most long-lasting thing we’ve ever made, but it’s the most fascinating material on Earth. I mean we are using this material from the past 100 years, and we are absolutely unaware that this material is depleting one of our precious natural resources. And what’s more, we have made this material, yes the plastic, the next most ubiquitous thing on Earth, next to microorganisms. And if this isn’t enough here are the 12 most shocking facts about plastic you probably never heard of.
12) “All that plastic you dump into the Recycle bin hardly gets recycled!”
Look around! Do you see that plastic? That’s just one tiny fraction of the billion tones of the plastic generated so far? Do you think it will reach up to recycling once disposed of?
As of 2019, nearly 8.3 billion tonnes of plastic waste has been generated throughout the world, of which only 9 percent of it is been recycled, and around 12 percent is incinerated i.e. burned. The rest 79% of plastic can still be found over the heaps of landfills or floating in rivers and oceans.
11) “Why are we making something that we cannot end?“
The long-chain entangling chemistry of plastic makes it the most durable and long-lasting product on the planet. So much that every piece of plastic that has ever been produced is still in existence in either one form or the other. That means the plastic near you will continue to exist for at least the next 100 years.
10) Where do you think the world’s largest “landfill” exist?
If it’s in India, it would, undoubtedly, be the Ghazipur landfill in New Delhi. Unfortunately, the largest “garbage dump” on Earth isn’t on land but floating over the North Pacific Ocean off the coast of California.
It is the “Great Pacific Garbage Patch” that covers almost 1.6 million square kilometres of the ocean surface, that’s the size of Europe, Mexico, and India combined.
Image taken from Forbes.com
9) Not everything found in the sea is a sea-food!
Sea-birds often mistake the pieces of plastic as food. It is believed that almost all the sea-birds in the world have eaten plastic, causing over 1 million deaths every year.
8) Plastic is now relatable to Stars in the Milky Way!
You must have heard about a type of fabric called Polyester? No! Check the labels/tags of your favorite T-shirt! Spotted! That polyester is basically made from the thin fibres generated by shredding your very own PET plastic bottle.
Once you take the polyester cloth for washing, all physical actions combined with a detergent used in washing clothes will cause the polyester to release tiny strands of polyester fibres called microplastics into the drainage system. This drainage system eventually channels the microplastics into rivers and oceans causing the microplastic pollution of the water bodies.
Photo by pcess609/iStock on thesourcemagazine.org
Plastics that are dumped into water bodies in an intact condition also undergo degradation by high-speed wind and ultraviolet action causing the breakdown of the plastic and releasing microplastics into the water body.
It is believed that all the microplastics that somehow found its way into the ocean and seas, now outnumber the stars in the Milky Way.
7) Nearly half of the World’s plastic is produced in Asia.
Asia accounts for over 60% of Plastic waste ending into the ocean, with countries like China, Vietnam, Philippines, Indonesia, and Thailand being the largest contributor.
6) Asia alone cannot be blamed for all the plastic problem.
Countries like Canada, the U.S., and UK exports, offloads to be precise, their plastic waste into the landfills of various countries in Asia and Africa.
5) “Plastic is killing marine life!”
This is a straightforward fact that just cannot be denied. Animals like turtles, sea-birds, fish and seals, often get entangled into the plastic waste found floating over the surface of the water.
Image by Dave Granlund
A great number of marine species confuse plastic waste with food, resulting in eating the plastic and choking to death. Nearly 40 percent of the world’s ocean surface is covered with plastic waste, killing at least marine life every minute.
4) We are just not ready to stop our plastic production!
The world’s plastic production is growing at an exponential rate. “If it’s not the plastic, it’s wrapped in the plastic”. The world’s plastic production has been increased from 2 million tones per year in 1950 to around 400 million tons as of 2018 and is expected to double by 2050.
3) “Even Recycling cannot prevent Plastics from entering into Landfills or the Oceans!”
The percentage of plastic making upto recycling process is already very less, and in all that, most of the plastic gets recycled into a downgraded product by a process known as downcycling.
The downgraded plastic either ends into landfill or attempts a few more downcycles before reaching a stage where it cannot be recycled further. The plastic at this stage is chemically weak, and has lost all its quality. Thus it is preferred to be dumped into the landfill. The moral of the story is that recycling is not a solution to the plastic problem. There is no end to the plastic problem!
Last but not least, but certainly the most shocking fact of all is that the production of plastic uses around 8% of the world’s oil production.
The crude oil or fossil fuel we draw from the deep oil reserves is used as a raw material for making plastics. This should make you think twice before discarding any piece of plastic somewhere!
Fossil fuel is one of the natural resources that we are depleting at an alarming rate. Even the burning of fossil fuels is raising an environmental concern such as global warming!
Image taken from lonetreemedia on Instagram
1) It’s not Recycling, but by Reducing, we can save this planet from the ever-increasing Plastic pollution!
In the event of widespread awareness of environmental issues such as climate change, every car manufactures is going electric. Do you think having more electric cars on the road is going to reduce the plastic problem? Capitalists working in the oil production sector won’t stop drawing oil from the oil reserves, and if fossil fuels are not being used in automobiles, then it eventually will be utilized to produce…boom…more and more plastics!