Plastic manufacturing companies should be banned from making single-use products worldwide
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Plastic Manufacturing Companies should be banned from making single-use plastic products world wide.
Target: European Union Committee on Petitions
Plastic, a material that has changed our lives greatly. From the plastic bottles we buy from convenience stores to the chairs we sit on during meetings, a majority of everything in our daily lives surrounds plastic. The convenience brought by plastic and the what seems like a limitless supply of it causes us to think that this material is simply irreplaceable and God's greatest gift to humanity, however like Newton's third law, every action has its equal opposite reaction. Few know the beginning of the cycle of a plastic bottle, any plastic packaging material or plastic bag. It begins with oil rigs and drilling machines, thousands of them, each extracting hundreds and hundreds of tons of crude oil from below the sea bed or underground. Aside from the hundreds of oil spills that kill countless sea animals, birds and other marine life while polluting the sea, the extraction of crude oil requires the burning of fossil fuels which in return release toxic gases such as sulfur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen dioxide (NO2), carbon monoxide (CO) the all more so polluting the air. The same black, thick liquid used to power your car, pave roads and make fertilizer is used to store the water you drink so freely and bags that contain your groceries. And after being used these single-use plastic products are just thrown away and left to decompose in landfills for thousands of years.
Of course there are products where the benefits outweigh the harm in terms of conveniences, price, and accessibility such as plumbing pipes and electric circuit boards, however the harms outweigh the benefits immensely when it comes to single-use plastic products. Single-use plastic products also known as disposable plastic are only used once or twice before being thrown away or recycled. These products include plastic bags, straws, plastic bottles and food packaging. However a recent study has shown that while a plastic bag may be used for around the average of 12 minutes, it takes thousands of years for it to decompose into the ocean, landfill and wherever it may end up as only 9% of thousands and millions of tons of plastic are recycled. The list of problems and issues caused by single-use plastic products goes on however the two main issues include the production of these products and the waste it causes in the ocean and landfills.
The Dangers of Plastic Production
The production of plastic products is not only the beginning point of thousands of years of rotting and decomposing, but also terribly harming towards the environment. Over the last ten years we have produced more plastic than during the whole of the last century. It begins with fossil fuel being extracted from ground or ocean with oil rigs and oil drills. Then it is transported to a refinery where heat is used to break down the crude oil into different gases where distillation towers separate the gases based on weight and boiling points. As a lot of energy is required to do so, fossil fuel is burned to basically change fossil fuel into plastic making the production of plastic very harming towards the environment emitting many different kinds of toxic gases. Not only does this process require a lot of energy meaning tons and tons of fossil fuel being burned, but every pound of plastic requires up to 22 gallons of water to make. Apart from the enormous amounts of fossil fuel and coal burnt to generate energy to extract crude oil, thousands of gallons water used to condensate the evaporated crude oil and deadly gases emitted from the process, oil spills and transportation are aspects that are not even consider in this whole equation where the only answer is destroying the environment.
The effects of plastic production affecting a nation is shown explicitly in China. China claims 23.5% of the world production of plastics which is a reason why XingTai a coal burning, factory-based city places 9th on the list of worst air polluted cities in the world. Although production of plastic has decreased air pollution in China has reached astounding levels in this past decade. A recent study has shown that 1 in 3 deaths occurring in China are caused by air pollution. In China’s most toxic cities, Baoding, Shijiazhuang and Xingtai, a number of more than 30,000 people have been reported dead that could be linked to pollution.
Plastic Waste: A Growing Global Ecological Threat
Plastic accounts for around 10% of the total waste we generate and of that 10% we only recover 5% of all the plastic we produce which leaves 95%, 4.9 billion metric tons in landfills or oceans. And of that 8.3 billion metric tons of plastic either floating in the ocean or slowly decomposing in the landfills, 50% are single-use plastic. A product that is barely used more than 3 times will take 500-1000 years to decompose depending on the type of plastic and where it is disposed. The consequences that are caused by our irresponsible way of disposing plastic waste not only affects the environment, the air we breathe and our personal health, but our actions are also killing one million seabirds and 100,000 marine mammals each year. Species such as the Steller sea lion and sperm whales are going extinct because of the harm plastic waste is causing them.
There are three main ways of disposing plastic waste, recycling, thermal destruction and landfills, however the littering of plastic has also become a common way of disposing plastic in the world we live in today. The process of recycling mainly only applies to two types of plastic, polyethylene terephthalate (PET, used for synthetic fibers and water bottles) and high density polyethylene (HDPE, used for jugs, bottle caps, water pipes) Recycled plastic is first brought to a transfer station or recycling facility where it is first sorted into different types of plastic whether it type 1 plastic polyethylene terephthalate or type 2 plastic high density polyethylene. Then it is brought to a baylor where these recycled plastics are pressed and compressed into a block where it is then it is transported to remanufacturing companies to cut, wash, dry and reuse. However only a mere 9.5% of plastic is recycled so recycling in not a main way of disposing plastic. Thermal destruction, the action of burning plastic to completely eradicate it. This happens more in developing countries however the dangers of doing so emits dangerous gases such as carbon dioxide and monoxide and depending on what atom is used to make the plastic, there’s a chance nitrogen dioxide and monoxide will be released as well which can be dangerous for the public’s health. Lastly which is also the most likely place plastic will end up, landfills. After being thrown away, plastic that is not recycled will end up in your local landfill. The only way these single-use plastic products and other plastic will ever be completely rid of our planet will take up to at least 500 years per piece, after days and days of sunlight breaking degradable plastic down into microscopic bits into what’s called “microplastics”.
These three ways of disposing of plastic waste make up the majority of all the plastic wasted, however surprisingly, a lot of plastic waste ends up in the ocean being around 5.25 trillion pieces of plastic debris in the ocean. There is so much plastic in the ocean that there are 5 ocean gyres in the world where plastic gathers due to the current circulation. These gyres basically being whirlpools of garbage in different parts of oceans containing millions and millions of pieces of garbage. Animals such as sea turtles, seals, sea lions, sea birds, whales, dolphins and many types of fish are dying because of our plastic waste ending up in their digestion systems or suffocating them. Sea turtles mistake plastic bags for jellyfish suffocate and choke on the bags and killing them in the process just because we were too lazy to bring our own reusable bag to the grocery market. Fish-eating bottle caps thinking they are food and starving to death as the plastic remains in their digestive system making them think they are full. There is so much plastic waste in the ocean that by 2050, the weight of plastic waste will outweigh fish. Not only is the waste in the ocean affecting the marine life, but the tide will often wash up plastic waste on beaches ruining them one by one.
Other than being left in landfills for thousands of years, killing the marine life and polluting the ocean, releasing toxic gases from being burnt, single-use plastic still has many other consequences. Here are some examples:
Plastic bags in Kenya caused the spread of Malaria. When filled with rainwater, plastic bags become breeding grounds for mosquitoes, which cause malaria.
Philippines and Cameroon banned plastic bags as it protects the sewage systems and avoids floods
93% of Americans have been detected with bisphenol A in their bodies which are plastic particles brought into bodies when fish have ingested plastic in the ocean and we then eat the fish. Consumption of bisphenol A reproductive disorders, heart diseases, type 2 diabetes and many more conditions.
The consequences of single-use plastic obviously outweigh the benefits by a lot but what are some solutions to this problem.
The End of Single-Use Plastic
I propose to governments all around the world to ban plastic manufacturing from making single-use plastic products worldwide. Not only are these products drastically harming the environment in too many ways, but there can easily be alternatives.
Firstly, if plastic manufacturing companies insist on producing single-use plastics, it should be mandatory that these companies use recycled plastic only and nothing more. In the world we live in today, we have so much plastic produced that if we just kept on recycling and reusing products, it would last us decades.
Secondly, governments should provide water dispensers on every other block. This not only encourages the public to use their own water bottles as the water is coming free of charge, it will also decrease the number of plastic bottles used and bought which will affect the profits of bottle producing companies forcing them to adapt. Compared to the 22 gallons of water used to make 1 pound of plastic and double the amount of water contained in a bottle to make the bottle of water, less water is actually used and the water is actually used for a purposeful cause unlike the production of single-use products.
Thirdly, the governments will fund reusable and biodegradable bag making companies and will make it that it’s free of charge for supermarkets to give these bags out after purchase. As plastic bags are one of the worse types of single-use plastic contributing to over 50% of plastic waste, it is important that this problem is tackled head on and it can’t happen without the government's funding.
Environmental harm can be easily reduced if the government is willing to step in and take action amongst plastic manufacturing companies. Stopping them from producing single-use plastic and funding environmentally friendly projects is just the first step, the second step is for us to take responsibility and begin noticing environmental issues in the world we live in today and take action.
Life without plastic
Plastic has become such a large in our life it’s hard to imagine it not. But it is also hard to imagine our world polluted beyond saving, all marine life extinct, landfills we can see them through our beds and many others aspects of environmental harm that are happening that don’t yet affect us. I can promise you it is happening, wherever you live North America, Asia, Africa, South America, Europe, Central America or Australia, sooner or later the consequences of these actions will affect you and it will nothing like you’ve ever imagined. So join me today and support and join this campaign by signing this petition showing you care about the world we live in today and its future.
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