Daniel Mason Geo 101 24 February 2022 Introduction: What is plastic pollution?

Daniel Mason
Geo 101
24 February 2022
What is plastic pollution?
General definition:
Plastic pollution is the excessive buildup of plastic objects and particles on Earth’s surface and its features that adversely affects the humans, animals and their ecosystems of that area.
Plastic pollution is proved to have a negative effect on the Earth’s oceans and wildlife health in many ways
Why is it important?
Plastic pollution harms the health of our oceans and marine wildlife
It threatens marine food for humans, tourist rates and it also initiates climate global warming. (Broom, D, 2015)
How much plastic is in the world.
It was measured that in 2010, the world generated 270 million tons of plastic items. The waste of plastic increased the same year to 275 millions tons.
In 1950 the production of plastic was only about 2 million tons. In 2015, however it has increased to 381 million tons (Cozar, A., 2014)
What causes ocean pollution?
Plastic debris deposited in the ocean is at a higher rate in coastal areas that are right off the ocean.
Plastic pollution in the ocean is proved to be mostly caused by Land runoff mostly due to water and rain. Also littering and poor plastic waste management are a huge factor as well. (Cozar, A., 2014)
Overfilled sewage is a factor in plastic pollution in the ocean. This is mostly a factor in poor countries (Rochman, C.M., 2020)
How much plastic is in the ocean?
In 2010, it was recorded that the plastic waste in the ocean was about 31.9 million tons globally (Hancock, L, 2019)
The amount of plastic waste in the ocean’s surface is not well known, however scientists and geologists have estimated around 10,000-100,000 tons.(Hancock, L, 2019)
Scientists estimate that about 24 million tons of plastic waste enter aquatic environments each year, including our ocean.(Rochman, C.M., 2020)
How can we prevent ocean pollution due to plastics?
It is critical to improve plastic waste management systems around the world in the next few years because the amount of plastic waste is continuing to increase. (Cozar, A., 2014)
A huge step in slowing down the rate of pollution would be funding poor countries in order for them to afford better plastic waste management systems. (Broom, D, 2015)
Plastic strategies are being studied at the national and regional levels, and several cities and states have established storm water and sewage restrictions to prevent plastics from entering the water from runoff. (Rochman, C.M., 2020)
Do some countries allow more plastic pollution in the ocean than others?
Low socially classed countries have generated a higher plastic pollution rate than higher class countries (Hancock, L, 2019)
Higher class countries have better equipped and more plastic recycle machines however lower class countries have a lack of money to afford these machines. (Hancock, L, 2019)
In 2019, 187 countries agreed to amend the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal to restrict international trade in plastic waste. (Rochman, C.M., 2020)
How long does it take for plastic to disappear?
It is not exactly known how long plastic takes to disappear. However it can take anywhere from 20 to 500 years to decompose. (Cozar, A., 2014)
Plastic intakes UV light which breaks down the molecules. The amount of sunlight on plastic can also affect how long it takes for plastic to decompose. (Rochman, C.M., 2020)
How do we dispose of our plastic waste?
Before 1980, 100 percent of plastic waste was thrown away due to the lack of recycling machines across the globe. In 1990 the recycle rate increased (Biological Diversity, Ocean Plastics Pollution)
In 2015 the rate of recycled plastic increased to 20% a year. 55% was discarded and 25% was incinerated. (Rochman, C.M., 2020)
Mismanaged waste is when plastic debris is traveled in wind and water currents. (Biological Diversity, Ocean Plastics Pollution)
Why is plastic in the oceans a problem?
Plastic pollution is very dangerous to marine animals. It causes suffocation, entrapment and indigestion to animals. Animals often mistake the plastic for food and starve themselves thinking they are full. (Quiñones, L, 2021)
Microplastics have been found in laboratory research to cause a number of biological impacts, including alterations in gene expression, disruption of eating behavior, growth delay, and reproductive failure. (Biological Diversity, Ocean Plastics Pollution)
Water pollution is increasing in some regions, having a negative impact on the water supply. (Biological Diversity, Ocean Plastics Pollution)
As a result, all marine life suffers a serious risk of toxification, behavioral disorder, malnutrition, and suffocation, from plankton and shellfish to birds, turtles, and mammals. (Quiñones, L, 2021)
The human body is affected in the same way. Plastics are found in seafood, beverages, and even common salt. When hanging in the air, they also penetrate the skin and are inhaled. (Quiñones, L, 2021)
This form of contamination in water sources has been linked to hormonal alterations, developmental issues, reproductive abnormalities, and even cancer. (Quiñones, L, 2021)
Can we help solve the problem with recycling and biodegradable plastics?
When you mix bioplastics with ordinary petroleum-based plastics, you typically end up with a product that can’t be recycled but can’t be composted since it contains petrochemicals. To address this issue, drop-in plastics were developed. They’re bioplastics that don’t biodegrade quickly, making them more compatible with petroleum-based plastics and allowing them to be recycled more frequently. (Broom, D, 2015)
Countries could implement container deposit schemes to increase recycling rates, eliminate the use of some single-use plastic items that are unnecessary and not recyclable, improve waste collection and management infrastructure, and agree to only market recyclable and/or reusable plastics in their regions. (Rochman, C.M., 2020)
How does plastic production contribute to the climate change crisis?
We may need to cleanse increasingly polluted water to make it usable since water is becoming a scarce resource. This method consumes a lot of energy and may result in increased emissions. (Hanccock L, 2019)
Our water supplies, habitats, and quality are all suffering as a result of climate change. These issues, in turn, lead to more problems and the destruction of our environment as a whole. (Reddy S 2018)
What can people do to help solve this problem?
Requires for a reduction in plastic manufacturing and consumption right away, as well as a change of the entire value chain. (Biological Diversity, Ocean Plastics Pollution)
Grass or yard waste can be mulched or composted. If you can’t compost it, leave it in your yard. (Biological Diversity, Ocean Plastics Pollution)
Leaves should not be blown into the road. This causes storm drains to get clogged and damaged. (Broom, D, 2015)
wash your automobile or outdoor equipment where the water can drain to a gravel or grassy area. (Broom, D, 2015)
What does the future hold?
Scientists say that if nothing is done, by 2050, the plastic pollution in the ocean is set to triple at the rate we are at now. Some say that there will be more plastic in the ocean than there are fish. (Broom, D, 2015)
However, if plastic waste management systems increase and we start to fund poor countries to improve plastic waste management. This number can decrease and we can help our Earth. (Ritchie H, Roser M)
Plastic pollution is and has been increasing over the years (Broom, D, 2015)
The amount of plastic production increases every year globally.
Poor countries have a higher plastic pollution rate than wealthier countries.
Some plastic pollution is caused by natural causes such as wind and water streams
Cózar, Andrés, et al. “Plastic Debris in the Open Ocean.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, vol. 111, no. 28, National Academy of Sciences, 2014, pp. 10239–44, http://www.jstor.org/stable/23805735.
Broom, Dorothy. “Peak Plastic: The Proliferation of Plastic.” ReNew: Technology for a Sustainable Future, no. 133, Alternative Technology Association, 2015, pp. 62–67, https://www.jstor.org/stable/renetechsustfutu.133.62.
Rochman, Chelsea M. “THE STORY OF PLASTIC POLLUTION: From the Distant Ocean Gyres to the Global Policy Stage.” Oceanography, vol. 33, no. 3, Oceanography Society, 2020, pp. 60–70, https://www.jstor.org/stable/26962482.
(2021, October 21) Plastic pollution on course to double by 2030. United Nations. https://news.un.org/en/story/2021/10/1103692
Briggs H. (2021 June 11) Plastic Pollution: take-out food is littering the oceans. BBC Environment Correspondent.
Hancock L. (2019. Fall). Plastic In The Ocean: Plastic Waste Is Flooding Our Oceans. It’s Now More Important Than Ever To Reduce Our Plastic Footprint Worldwide. World Wildlife.
(2021, November) Marine Plastic Pollution. International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). https://www.iucn.org/resources/issues-briefs/marine-plastic-pollution
Kilduff C. (2019 May 27). Ocean Plastics Pollution. Center for Biological Diversity. https://www.biologicaldiversity.org/campaigns/ocean_plastics/citation.html
Ritchie H, Roser M. (2018 September). Plastic Pollution. Our World in Data.
Reddy S. (2018, September 24). Plastic Pollution Affects Sea Life Throughout the Ocean. The Pew Charitable Trusts.