Plastic pollution

January 9, 2023

Every minute, the equivalent of a truckload of plastic trash is dumped into the ocean.

Plastic pollution is a global problem. Approximately 7 billion of the 9.2 billion tons of plastic produced between 1950 and 2017 have become plastic waste that ended up in landfills or dumped in landfills.

Plastic pollution can alter habitats and natural processes, reducing the ability of ecosystems to adapt to climate change, directly affecting the livelihoods of millions of people, their ability to produce food and their social well-being.

UNEP’s body of work demonstrates that the problem of plastic pollution does not arise in isolation. The environmental, social, economic and health risks associated with plastic must be assessed alongside other environmental stressors such as climate change, ecosystem degradation and resource use.

he more than 8 million tons of plastic parts that enter the oceans each year are equivalent to 800 times the weight of the Eiffel Tower or the weight of 14,285 Airbus A380 aircraft, and occupy an area 34 times the size of the island of Manhattan, according to data. , from Greenpeace. This waste is carried by ocean currents and forms clumps or islands of plastic of enormous size, the largest of which is in the North Pacific Ocean (between the coast of California and Hawaii) and is known as the “Great Garbage Patch. Patch (GPGP). It covers more than one million square kilometers, more than the area of Spain, France, and Germany combined. Although an island in the Pacific Ocean is the largest garbage island, it is not the only one, as we found one more in the Pacific Ocean, 2 in the Atlantic and one more in the Indian Ocean. The Mediterranean is considered the 6th area with the largest accumulation of plastic waste. It contains only 1% of the world’s water, but it is home to 7% of the planet’s microplastics (particles less than 5 millimeters in diameter).

One-third of all plastic waste ends up in soil or freshwater reservoirs. It is estimated that terrestrial microplastic pollution is 4 to 23 times higher than marine pollution. An example of this is the pollution caused by textile fibers because they persist in sewage sludge, which is also often used as fertilizer, resulting in tons of microplastics deposited in our soils.

But in addition to being present in the oceans and on land, microplastics enter living things through the air we breathe and through the food and drinks we drink. A recent study, “Nature Without Plastic: Estimating Human Plastic Consumption in Nature” (prepared by Dalberg Advisors), based on research commissioned by WWF and conducted by Newcastle University, suggests that each person consumes about 2,000 small pieces of plastic. week, about 21 grams per month, just over 250 grams per year. That’s equivalent to the weight of a credit card a week. The study notes that the specific health effects of ingesting microplastics have yet to be fully understood.

The report presented today also echoes various initiatives that both companies and organizations are taking to collect and assess plastic waste from our seas and oceans, such as a major project to clean up 50% of a trash island in the Pacific Ocean in 5 years. In addition, the report also presents various proposals made by experts aimed at protecting the environment and reducing plastic consumption, aimed at both industry and governments, as well as some measures at the individual level that all people can apply in our daily lives. .

According to Josep Santacreu, director general of the DKV, “This report of the Observatory of Health and the Environment shows that research confirms the magnitude of the problem, and no one can doubt it. Now is the time to act, and to do so with the participation of all parties and with a common public will.”

The director of ECODES, Victor Viñoales, points out that the Observatory is the result of a fruitful union and that it has spent years to promote environmental issues that are now on the political agenda and in the media, such as plastic or air pollution, and that no one doubts its impact on health.

For her part, Rosa Garcia, director of the Rezero Foundation for Waste Prevention and Responsible Consumption, notes: “People seem to think that the human species is immune to plastic pollution, but there are numerous studies that show the impact it has on environmental pollution. on human health, on disease, fertility, etc.”

Jose Luis Gallego, scientific distributor and author of Plastic Detox, argues that “alarmism and catastrophism have done great damage to environmental protection. It’s time to build. Living without plastic is utopia. It is not a good spirit that must be settled, but an opportunity, and that consists of adding willpower between all, out of common sense.”

Marta de Santos, Director General of Climate Change and Environmental Education of the Government of Aragon, concluded the act, stressing that it is an exciting moment for the administration and politics, because there is a lot of work to be done during consumption, production and ensuring that caring for the environment is not only a matter of ethics or responsibility, but also has economic or financial rewards.

What causes plastic pollution?

The production and burning of plastics contributes significantly to climate change. waste Plastic also clogs our waterways, pollutes our oceans, kills wildlife, and seeps into our food chain.

What is the world’s plastic problem?

Нave taken over the Earth Plastics . Their growing production and use threatens to pollute every corner of the planet, especially the seas, the ultimate destination of many of them, where they seriously damage the health of aquatic ecosystems and the survival of the species that inhabit them.

What is the importance of reducing plastic use?

In recent years, scientific studies have shown that the irresponsible use of . plastic bags has caused serious pollution, and the oceans have become one of the biggest losers The bag takes at least 50 years to decompose.