Plastic, Plastic Everywhere

By Jessica Kirby –

Love it or hate it, plastic is everywhere. Since its earliest development nearly 200 years ago, the compound has revolutionized the world but with dire environmental consequences.

How Much Plastic?

Each year, plastic consumption increases by nine per cent over the previous year.
• The world has produced more plastic in the last decade than in all of the last century
• 50 per cent of that is used once and disposed.
• 80-90 per cent of plastic is thrown away—enough each year to circle the Earth four times.
• Nearly every piece of plastic ever created still exists, less a small bit that has been incinerated.
• It takes 500-1,000 years for plastic to degrade.

The Culprits

• Approximately 500 billion plastic bags are used annually worldwide—about one million each minute.
• It requires 12 million barrels of oil to make the 100 billion plastic bags used in the US alone each year.
• World wide, about 20 billion water bottles end up in the landfill each year.
• It takes about 6 litres of fresh water to package 1 litre of bottled water.
• Microfibers released from clothing represent 85 per cent of human waste on shorelines.
• Along with microbeads, not banned in Canada, microfibers become embedded in the intestinal tracts of marine animals and damage long-term health.

Banned

• Plastic shopping bags have been banned in seven Canadian municipalities and six US cities, with fees and taxes employed in additional municipalities in both countries.
• Plastic bag bans exist in Australia, England, Mexico, India, Burma, Bangladesh, and Rwanda and taxes or fees are imposed in Ireland, Germany, Italy, Switzerland, Belgium, and Holland.
• Plastic bottle bans are in effect in more than 20 Canadian cities and in as many countries around the world.

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Ocean Waste

• Plastic is found in convergences taking up 40 per cent of the ocean’s surface
• Plastic breaks into such small pieces, the same bottle could end up on every mile of beach in the world.
• The Great Pacific Garbage Patch off the coast of California is twice the size of Texas with plastic pieces outnumbering sea life six to one.
• One million seas birds and 100,000 marine mammals are killed each year from plastic in our oceans.

Why Recycle?

• Plastic accounts for about ten per cent of human waste, and we only recover about five per cent of the plastics we produce.
• Besides environmental damage, plastic chemicals absorb into the body—96 per cent of Americans six or older test positive for BPA.
• Recycling and reducing are our strongest weapons against environmental damage caused by plastic misuse – refuse single serving and disposable plastics, reuse shopping bags and water bottles, use your own “to-go” cups and food containers, seek non-plastic alternatives, and spread the word – the planet and your health depend on it.

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