Plastic whether we know it or not, is everywhere.
It resides in the $4 takeaway latte’s we buy every morning, the cars that we drive to work throughout the week and the cigarettes that we smoke on weekends to say goodbye to all the stress. Unfortunately for Earth the material takes up to 400 years to degrade and with a 379 million tonne increase in plastic production since the 1950’s, the flood gates are bursting open.
Scientists at National Geographic have calculated that a distressing 91% of the 8.3 billion metric tons of existing plastic are NOT being recycled. Plastic not salvaged either ends up as landfill, or if not contained is prone to blow away into rivers and natural water sources where the material is swept out into the ocean. Problems arising from plastic bags, toothpaste canisters and plastic straws are well documented, however the ingestion of microplastics is also a real threat to the natural food chain. Microplastics are 5mm in total size or less and are produced by the break down of floating plastic in waterways being exposed to constant sunlight. The danger here is that smaller marine life consumes these micro substances, then is eaten by wildlife higher up in the food chain – harbouring an endless cycle of consumption. There are plenty of reported cases around the globe where fisherman and even chefs are finding seafood containing microplastics.
So the most important question here is… how do we combat the problem?