Plastic waste impacts have the most significant contribution to the environment. It’s one of the reasons that our climate becomes worse every time. Therefore, to learn the damaging effect of plastic waste and reduce its usage, we must understand what plastic waste is.
What is plastic waste?
Plastic waste is goods produced by non-renewable materials and chemicals. According to the UN Environment, most chemicals to generate plastic are sourced from natural gas, oil, and coal.
Since 1960, many industries have been producing around 8,3 billion tons of plastic waste. Today, they still generate plastic waste of around 400 million tons every year. About 60% of them end up in landfills or dumped.
This increasing trend is strongly related to plastic consumption in industries and daily lives. For example domestic utilization, manufacturing, and office.
Why are plastics widely used? For the business side, plastic materials are durable, easy to mold into various shapes, and relatively affordable than others.
For domestic sides, plastic becomes a convenient alternative. Many people can utilize it for other purposes such as food packaging, etc. This habit leads to producing more plastic waste.
Types of Plastic Waste
Based on the types, plastic waste materials are classified into different categories :
- PETE/PET (Polyethylene Terephthalate)
Disposable food trays and clear bottles are the most common examples of this type. PETE is only for one-time use. In this case, it means that PETE/PET is relatively easy to decompose and not very dangerous.
- HDPE (High-density Polyethylene)
Same with PETE, this material is only for one-time usage. Moreover, you can find HDPE materials in bottle caps and chemical bottles.
- V/PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride)
This material makes pipes, toys, cable insulation, and door frames. Thus, V/PC it’s difficult to decompose and can endanger organ functions if heated.
- LDPE (Low-density Polyethylene)
Food packaging or dry cleaning bags typically use this material. It’s quite difficult to decompose but not very dangerous.
- PP (Polypropylene)
It is easy to decompose and not very dangerous. Moreover, PP is the main material to fabricating fast food packaging, sauce bottles, and syrups.
- PS (Polystyrene or Styrofoam)
Food and egg plastic packaging mostly contain this material. Nonetheless, PS isn’t safe if we use it many times. Besides that, it can release poison gas if heated.
Plastic with different materials from categories 1-6 and mainly made from Polycarbonate has another issue. If heated, it can release bisphenol-A. Then, food and beverages may potentially absorb this chemical. The person who consumes this material could potentially get damage to their hormone system.
Plastic Waste Impact
Plastic mainly contained Polychlorinated Biphenyl (PCB). To decompose it in the soil or the ocean, Plastic will take a process of around 100-500 years. Then, it will create impacts such as:
- Polluting groundwater and underground creatures,
- PCBs material that could poison animals,
- Producing plastic bags waste which could block the flow of rivers, leads to floods,
- Decrease soil fertility, and
- Causing animals to die from accidentally swallowing or getting tangled in plastic waste.
How To Reduce It?
With the negative impact concern, we need solutions to reduce plastic waste. Neglecting plastic consumption will be impossible because its benefits have been creating convenience for all plastic users for a long time.
In this situation, the government is responsible for regulating and decreasing plastic usage on a macro scale. This initiative can start with the government and people by applying 3R: Reduce, reuse, and recycle.
Furthermore, we can also change our habits, such as:
- Cooking at home,
- Buying ingredients in larger sizes,
- Bringing bags when grocery shopping,
- Using reusable dishware,
- Replacing paper towels with fabric towels, and
- Using environmentally friendly bags such as cassava-based plastic bags.
For office use, we can reduce the plastic consumption by:
- Recycling in the office,
- Providing reusable utensils,
- Sourcing office essentials responsibly,
- Use green deliveries to send your items, and
- Promote a “no plastic” office culture.
In conclusion, plastic waste is a serious problem for our environment. We need to minimize the usage immediately. We can do it effortlessly by sorting our trash and applying 3R in our daily lives. While saving the environment, we also save the future!
To read more about saving our environment and other useful tips, you can visit this link.