What can we do to reduce plastic pollution?

Pile of rubble, Natalya Critchley

Versión en español

Plastic pollution is the accumulation of plastic objects and particles in the Earth’s environment, particularly in the oceans and other waterways, that adversely affects humans, wildlife and their habitat. Plastics that act as pollutants are categorized by size into micro-, meso-, or macro debris. Plastics are inexpensive and durable, making them very adaptable for different uses; as a result, manufacturers choose to use plastic over other materials. However, the chemical structure of most plastics renders them resistant to many natural processes of degradation and as a result they are slow to degrade. Plastics can take hundreds of years to degrade, and even when they do, they break down into microplastics, which can be harmful to the environment and organisms that ingest them.

Plastic pollution is a global problem that is having a devastating impact on marine life, as well as on human health. It is estimated that over 8 million tons of plastic waste enter the oceans each year, which can have significant impacts on wildlife. Marine animals can become entangled in plastic waste or mistake plastic debris for food, leading to injury or death. Plastic debris can also impact ecosystems by altering food chains and nutrient cycling. Plastic pollution is also a health hazard for humans. Plastics contain harmful chemicals that can leach into the environment and enter the food chain, potentially causing health problems for people who consume contaminated seafood or other products.

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