Lately plastic has taken over the world. People often believe that all of this has happened in the recent few years, but the truth is everything takes time to happen and gradually makes its impact, and the same is with plastic.
Commercial (fully synthetic) plastic was first introduced in the year 1907 when Belgian-American chemist Leo Baekeland created Bakelite, the first real synthetic, mass-produced plastic. This breakthrough made people think, that it was going to be a great positive change for the industrial years ahead. The creation which was believed to be a boon for the world now appears to be a curse. A curse that is not only harming human life but every other life form on the planet.
Though there are many movements and initiatives taken by several organizations and governments of various countries going on, the effect of plastic is now on the verge where, either in some years it’ll be irreversible or we would have completely eradicated it.
From Mount Everest to the bottom of the sea, plastics are found to be persistent polluters of many environmental niches. Whether being mistaken for food by animals, flooding low-lying areas by clogging drainage systems, or simply causing significant aesthetic blight, plastics have attracted increasing attention as a large-scale pollutant.
The latest reports from the UN show how the consumption and demand for plastic have increased over the years. From the 1950s to the 70s, only a small amount of plastic was produced, so plastic waste was relatively manageable. By the 1990s, the plastic waste generation had more than tripled in two decades, following a similar rise in plastic production. In the early 2000s, the output of plastic waste rose more in a single decade than it had in the previous 40 years. Today, about 300 million tonnes of plastic waste is produced every year. That’s nearly equivalent to the weight of the entire human population.
Around the world, one million plastic drinking bottles are purchased every minute, while up to 5 trillion single-use plastic bags are used worldwide every year. In total, half of all plastic produced is designed to be used only once and then thrown away.
Researchers estimate that more than 8.3 billion tonnes of plastic have been produced since the early 1950s. About 60% of that plastic has ended up in either a landfill or the natural environment.
Since the 1950s, the rate of plastic production has grown faster than that of any other material. A shift away from the production of durable plastic, and towards plastics that are meant to be thrown away after a single use has also been seen. More than 99% of plastics are produced from chemicals derived from oil, natural gas, and coal, all of which are dirty, non-renewable resources. If current trends continue, by 2050 the plastic industry could account for 20% of the world’s total oil consumption. Scientists have also claimed that if the use of plastic is not reduced, then by the year 2050 oceans would contain more plastic than fish.
Single-use plastic products are everywhere For many of us, they’ve become integral to our daily lives.
The use of plastic needs to be reduced, and the improvement of plastic waste management is now a necessity. Only 9% of all plastic waste ever produced has been recycled. About 12% has been incinerated, while the rest 79% has accumulated in landfills, dumps, or the natural environment.
The government and various organizations are doing their work by introducing various rules to regulate the use of plastic and organizing events to make people aware of the impacts plastic is making on this planet. But this is not enough, we need more to prevent our environment from going into a state, from where it’s revival won’t be possible. Each and every individual needs to take charge. It is often asked that “How can an individual make an impact globally by just reducing their consumption of plastic”, the answer is if each and every individual decides to take up their responsibility then we won’t need a bigger change, these small changes would eventually make a bigger impact than any other move can.
But the questions are, are we willing to make a change? are we ready to start working instead of just speaking? are we ready to pledge that we are going to make this world a better place to live in for our future generations, or are going to make it worse enough for them to struggle to survive? The answers to all these questions lie inside us, we just need to bring them out.
” It is us who has to decide, whether we protect what we have, or we and every other thing we cherish is going to be history”