You have probably heard about the plastic problem – that is, the problem with plastic waste. And while the conversation is largely geared toward plastic waste in the ocean, there’s more to the story. In fact, plastic pollutes and affects a lot more than the ocean.
The Plastic Process & Why It’s Harmful
Here is a breakdown of just how harmful the plastic process can be.
Plastic comes from fossil fuels such as natural gas, oil, and coal. While the demand for fossil fuel is declining thanks to a loss in production, plastic remains its lifeline. But there are so many side effects that come with fossil fuel extraction and transportation including oil spills and groundwater pollution.
To convert fossil fuels into plastic feedstock, large chemical processing plants are required. These plants emit a lot of different pollutants in the air. Unfortunately, a number of these plants are in low-income communities do not have the resources to fight back. As a result, these communities are at a greater risk for disease from exposure to these pollutants.
Plastics contain chemical additives that can leak, contaminating our food, water, and of course, our bodies. You’ve heard of BPA, right? BPA is an endocrine disruptor and can cause major problems – especially young people.
Plastic lives for hundreds of years – if not more. Only a small percentage of plastic gets recycled while the majority ends up in landfills or the environmnment. Small traces of plastic make their way into our homes and food, while the “smog” of microplastics in the ocean are killing small organisms necessary for the food chain.
How to Help Fix the Problem
The plastic problem will not be fixed overnight. But there are certain measures we can take to help.
There is Simply Too Much Plastic
Despite the evidence that plastic is quite literally ruining our world, the plastic industry – specifically the production of polyethylene – is expected to grow 75% in the US by 2022. At this rate – since much of that growth is single-use – there will be more plastic than fish in the ocean by the year 2050. To help reduce these consequences, the production and disposal of plastic must be reduced. (source)
It’s Not All Created Equal
Not all plastic is bad though. Some plastic is used to created to durable and long-lasting goods. And, some plastic has a high recycling value and can be recycled time and time again. However, much of our plastic is not created that way.
But Solutions Exist
While there is no one-size-fits-all solution, there are groups and companies that are working to solve this problem. Cities are banning plastic straws and plastic bags and others, like Golden Renewable Energy are taking waste – like plastics – from various companies and turning it into renewable diesel.
There is no quick fix or magic bullet when it comes to fixing the plastic problem. But understanding what the problem is and where the issues lay helps create a solution.
And, to learn more about Golden Renewable Energy’s waste renewal, click here.