Reporting in the journal Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B, more than 60 scientists found the following: Chemicals added to plastics are increasingly absorbed by humans, altering hormones and affecting fetal development and other physiological processes; millions of tons of plastic debris are ingested by hundreds of animal and fish species, clogging their digestive systems and infusing their systems with chemicals; floating plastic debris can last thousands of years in oceans and transport invasive species; plastic in landfills leaches harmful chemicals into groundwater; and 8 percent of world oil production goes into manufacturing plastics.
“One of the most ubiquitous and long-lasting recent changes to the surface of our planet is the accumulation and fragmentation of plastics,” the paper said.
The researchers did say that the ill-effects of plastic can be reduced in the future with the invention of biodegradable and less harmful forms of plastic and with greatly improved systems of plastic recycling.
This article originally appeared on Yale Environment 360 at http://e360.yale.edu
[photo credit: meerar]
I can’t imagine a world without plastics. However, I want us to be smart about the products we make. I believe that science can make plastics that are useful and when thrown away won’t harm us or future generations. You mentioned biodegradable plastics as a possible solution. I agree and think that all plastics should be biodegradable and designed to be sustainable. If plastic products were designed to be more “Cradle to Cradle,” we wouldn’t be having this discussion.
There are those who think we should do away with plastics…can you imagine what a visit to the hospital would be like if we didn’t have plastics? I’m not saying we keep the status quo, by no means, but we shouldn’t wait around for the government to save us. I think that it is up to consumers to demand plastics that are safe. It will be consumers who will bring about changes for the better. If consumers demand a product, manufacturers who want to stay in business will produce what consumers demand.
Plastics can be manufactured from plants (PLA) or from petroleum and both should be designed to biodegrade leaving behind harmless substances. Most of the plastic we use doesn’t biodegrade and isn’t recycled. Recycling rates here in the U.S. for plastic (PET) containers is less than 30%. That means that billions of bottles are ending up in landfills, streams or oceans.
Our company, ENSO Bottles, is an environmental company and we decided that something needed to be done to reduce plastic pollution, and quick. We and our partners have designed a plastic bottle that can be used for soft drinks, water or any other liquids that currently use PET plastic containers. Our bottles will biodegrade in a landfill environment or they can be recycled.
There are no perfect answers, but doing nothing and keeping the status quo isn’t acceptable.
Thanks for your comments. The more dialog we all have on this subject the sooner it’s going to be fixed.
“Bottles for a Healthier Earth”
Being environmentally conscious with regards to plastics require a huge amount of education of consumers, in order to get them to adhere to the principles of reuse, reduce and recycle. The minute people realize they can make or save a bit of money, then the incentive is there to implement this mindset.
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