What is plastic pollution
Nowadays, plastic pollution has become one of the most effects on the environmental. As the world’s population keeps on growing, so does the amount of garbage also keeps on increasing not stoppable. The disposable products such as plastic straws, food wrapper, container, plastic bottles, soda cans and many others. These substances that we use daily has led to increasing the amount of plastic pollution. Plastic is a non-biodegradable, therefore it will cause a great harm to the environment through the form of air, water and land pollution due to the plastic has toxic pollutants. Others than that, it will also cause problems to plants, animals, and even humans. When there is enough of plastic accumulate in the area, it will affect the environment and cause plastic pollution.
Plastic is made from organic polymers. Such as nylon, PVC, and polyethylene. There are two types of plastics known as thermosetting polymers and thermoplastics. Thermosetting polymers are plastic that has to go through the chemical change process. Polypropylene and polyethylene are the examples of thermoplastics. Plastic pollutant has categorized into three types known as micro, meso, and macro debris, it is classified them in terms of size. Plastics is the major cause of harming the environment due to it can long lasting, and may take up at least hundreds or even thousands of years to break it down. There are some chemical toxins that present in the plastic known as ethylene oxide, xylene, and benzene. While, there are also found several additions in the plastic known as toxic, such as phthalates, adipates, and alkylphenols.
When plastic occurs in the ocean, this will make it difficult for the marine animals to move freely. When marine animals ingest some of the plastic, this can cause them poisonous and dead because of the chemical components of the plastic. When plastic stuck on the drains and cannot pass through, this can act as a breeding place for the mosquito. Burning of plastic can also cause pollution.
Causes of plastic pollution
Every day our worlds have been overused of plastic and this is the main causes of plastic pollution. Plastic does not decompose. If plastic is burnt, it will release an amount of toxins into the air. One of the causes of plastic pollution are overused of plastic due to it is cheap. When disposed of it, plastic does not decompose easily, usually, it will take up about hundreds or even thousands of years to decompose it. Hence, it will pollute the land or air. Everyday trashes that we throw or dumps mainly will consist of plastic and this is one of the main reason to causes plastic pollution. Such as milk cartons with plastic linings, disposable plastic bottles, plastic bags, discarded electronic components, plastic toys and many others. These products that we throw will mostly be ended up found in the ocean, land, drains and many others places, and the toxic pollutants from the plastic will become increases to harm the environment and also affect the groundwater, wildlife, marine animals, plants and even humans.
Moreover, uses plastic for once time only. Most people will throw their plastic bags, plastic bottles, and many others things after uses for once. This will increase the plastic pollution due to plastic is a non-biodegradable. Some people will throw the plastic in the abundant land, ocean, though this will increase the pollution rate. Most of this cause in developing or underdeveloped countries. Next, is using plastic disposable such as plastic disposable plates, fork, spoon and many others. These plastic disposable after using once and will be thrown away, this will cause plastic pollution.
Fishing nets are mainly made of plastic. When the nets submerged in the water for a very long time, plastic from the toxins will leak into the ocean. Sometimes, the nets will break up or tear apart or lost in the ocean. This not only will pollute the ocean and it may also cause harm to the marine animals and wildlife animals too. Some fishes or sea turtle will mistake the plastic for food or jellyfish when they swallow the plastic, it will cause dead or chocking. Many of the marine animals die due to the amount of plastic that are thrown into the ocean. Some wildlife animals will also cause harm due to when they drink the polluted ocean water, they will lead the toxic of plastics into the body and cause death. Failure to recycling. Even though we recycle plastic but this doesn’t mean that we are reducing plastic. Most people until today will still get new plastic whenever she or he went to shopping mall to buy grocery so this does not reduce the plastics but increasing the plastic. Recycle of plastic is just to existing the old plastic to form a new plastic. However, recycling plastic can lead plastic irritants.
Effects of plastic pollution
When plastic pollution has occurred globally, there are many negative effects for plants, animals, human and others living organism. Let’s start with the ocean first, ocean causes pollution is due to the amount of plastic that people throw into the sea. Mainly each year about eight millions tonnes of plastics are found in the ocean. This plastic in the ocean is very harmful to the marine animals and marine plants because they are unable to move freely in the water, water consists of toxic and may ingest plastic materials. On 14 August 2015, in Costa Rica, a group of marine biologist found a sea turtle floating in the sea. When they brought the sea turtle to the boat, they realize that the sea turtle nostril had been blocked by something. It turns out that it was blocked by a plastic straw. If the marine biologist did not found the sea turtle, maybe it will die due to plastic straw stuck in its nostrils and cause difficulty breathing. Many of the marine animals and marine plants die because of this pollution.
The burning of plastic can cause air pollution. It can affect plants, animals, human and other living organisms. When it’s burning the toxic of the plastic will spread and release poisonous chemicals to the environment. This will cause difficulty breathing in the living organism. Moreover, the air pollution can affect global warming. Petrochemicals are mainly found in plastic, so when plastic had been burned, it can cause rain acid too.
Next, during a windy day, the plastic had been simply thrown away, it will get stuck in trees, roads, fences, field and other places. Some stray animals will mistake the plastic for food and it will cause death. Some cows in India mostly will munch the plastic. It’s bad for them due to it can’t digest in the stomach and can cause poisoning that release from the plastic. When rainy heavily, the plastic that had been stuck in some places will be drowned into drain, canals and cause the blockage. Some insects such as mosquito will breed in there. Moreover, blockage of the drain can cause the flood.
Solutions to address this issue
As the world’s population keeps growing so does the amount of garbage. There are many ways to solve this plastic pollution. First, we can carry a reusable bottle or bring your own water bottle. Every year about 20000 plastic bottles are produced around the world. While using reusable bottles not just can help us to reduce plastic, it can also help us to save money too. This is a great way to start reducing using plastic bottles. Example, Starbucks coffee has encouraged people to bring their own reusable cup and if you bring your own cup, you will get discount.
Next is say no to plastic straws. Refuse using plastic straws. Straws are very difficult to recycle. Straws are mostly found in beaches, and it could be blown into the ocean. As I say on the causes of plastic pollution, a sea turtle could not breath due to the plastic straw stuck in its nostril. On 23 February 2018, Michael Gove an environmental secretary suggested that plastic straws should be banned. Nowadays, they have come up with reusable glass straw and stainless steel straw, so if you really need it just buy one of these straws and it can be reusable.
Carrying your own reusable shopping bag. When you went to the grocery to buy things bring your own reusable shopping bag, do not use plastic bags. Nowadays, there are many styles and colours of reusable bags. On 9 January 2010, Tesco shopping mall have encouraged their customers to bring our own reusable bags. Member of the Tesco will get additional green Clubcard points for bringing their own reusable bags. The good news is every point can be converted into Clubcard cash vouchers.
Reduce using gum. The scientist had created synthetic rubber, polyethylene and polyvinyl acetate began to replace the natural rubber in most of the gum. When you eat gum, you are chewing on plastic or chewing on toxic plastic. Moreover, bring your own container when you take away food from a restaurant. Because many of the restaurants still use Styrofoam. You can reuse the container. Such as yogurt, butter, ice cream container and many others. You can store your leftover food (snacks, biscuits, sweets), accessories (colour pencils).
Others than that, educated young children from young. Tell them that plastic is bad for our environment and how can it be prevented. You can make a campaign, talks about how can we reduce using plastic. Reduce using disposable cutlery. Such as disposable plastic fork, spoon, and others. Bring your own spoon and fork instead of using these disposable plastic material products.
Examples of biodegradable plastics
Biodegradable plastics can be decomposed by bacteria in the environment. It’s less harmful to our environment. The two main types of biodegradable plastics are known as Oxo biodegradable and hydro-biodegradable. Both degrade as they emit with CO2, however, the hydro-biodegradable can also be emitted with methane. Oxo-biodegradable can be recycled. Oxo-biodegradable plastics are made from polymers known as polyethylene, polypropylene and polystyrene and others materials. It takes a few months or years to degrade. It’s the same weight as conventional plastic and can be degraded on land or sea. Whereas, Hydro-biodegradable plastics made from renewable resources and starch. It’s initiated by hydrolysis. It’s four times more expensive than conventional plastics, thicker and heavier. It can be only degraded in a high-microbial environment.
Biodegradable bacteria plastics (PLA) is made from the lactic acids such as potato waste, cheese whey, and other biomass. First, the starch from the potato is converted into simple sugars. Then, the anaerobic bacteria act upon the simple sugar by converting it into lactic acid. Lastly, polymerization of lactic acid form PLA.
Biodegradable plastics such as PHB or PHV is by the action of bacteria on sugars. Biopol is known as a copolymer. PHB and PHV occur naturally in certain bacteria such as Azobacter where they store energy. In industries, the plastic manufactured by growing the bacteria in tanks with glucose and propanoic acid (food). After more bacteria is produced, it was then killed and the plastic removed. E-coli is common bacteria, it has been genetically engineered to produced PHB. Genetic engineering involves taking genes from bacteria that make PHB naturally. Hence it will insert the genes that had been taking from the bacteria into E-coli bacteria so they can make PHB too. Plants such as potato plant, it can be genetically engineered to produce plastics rather than store starch.
The advantages of biodegradable plastic are consuming less energy. It requires less amount of energy and fossil fuel does not need to be recycled. Therefore, more bioplastics can be produced due to less energy is used, this made the environment become less polluted. It takes less time to break down after being discarded, it will get absorbed into the earth. Biodegradable plastics are renewable. Because they are made from biomass known as a completely renewable resource. It is an organic compound that can be broken down. Biomass such as trees, plants, and organic material that can be decomposed, it also includes animal fats, meats, and others. Good for the environment, biodegradable plastics do not harm our environment. Easier to recycle, due to it manufactured from materials that are biodegradable. It can be broken down faster and less energy needed when recycling them. Biodegradable plastics are safer for the environment and does not contain any toxins.
The disadvantages of biodegradable plastics are they should not be mixed up with non-biodegradable plastics. Because if the two types of plastics had been mixed up together, it can become contaminated and cannot be used anymore. When it decomposes in landfills, it will produce methane gas. Is a very strong gas that can affect the environment.
Steps taken in Malaysia to alleviate this problem
Started in 2017, in Wilayah Persekutuan, Putrajaya and Labuan it is compulsory for the seller to use biodegradable products to pack food. It was said by Federal Territories Minister Datuk Seri Tengku Mansor. Tengku Adnan said that the products that the traders use must be biodegradable food containers, plates, bowls, spoons, and forks, biodegradable plastic bags, and many others.
Next, at University Sain Malaysia (USM), a group of researchers found out that biodegradable plastic packaging from fruit skins. The fruit skin is from such as bananas, rambutans, and chempedak. The biodegradable plastic using waste products from fruits are cheaper than the petroleum-based commercial plastics. These plastics are able to biodegradable within three to six months.
In July 2009, Penang State government had launched the ‘No Free Plastic Bag’ campaign. In 2011, Penang had become the first green state in Malaysia to implement ‘Everyday is No Free Plastic Bags Day’ campaign. It will be charged 20sen for each of plastic bags if required. Due to the success of reducing the use of plastic bags it had allowed Penang to achieve becoming the First Malaysia Green State.
In 2010, Selangor also had started the ‘No Plastic Bag Day’ on every Saturday. Customers will be charged 20sen for each plastic bag if they require it. Starting on January 2017, Selangor will fully be banned the uses of polystyrene containers and it will be extended the ‘No Plastic Bag Dag to the everyday, said by green technology and environment committee chairman Elizabeth Wong. #BebasPlastikcampaign launch in Selangor to awareness people that plastic bags and polystyrene containers will be no longer free at all retailers.
On 28 December 2014, Sibu, Sarawak is the first town to ban takeaway containers, polystyrene is known as Styrofoam. These Styrofoam containers are replaced by biodegradable paper boxes. And on 2 October, Sarikei in Sarawak had launched ‘Say No to Polystyrene for Packaging of Food’ campaign. Sarikei District Council (SDC) requires to uses biodegradable containers for takeaway foods. And in 2015 in Sibu Jaya and Selangau will be no more polystyrene meal boxes.
These are the steps taken in Malaysia to reduce using of plastic and reduce the plastic pollution.