Growing Concerns About Plastics Plastic debris in the oceans was first observed in the 1960s, a decade in which Americans became increasingly aware of environmental problems. Rachel Carson's 1962 book, Silent Spring, exposed the dangers of chemical pesticides.
Why did the plastic problem start?
Many factors contribute to the issue, most obviously unsustainable consumption patterns, non-existent or ineffective legislation, inefficient waste management systems, and a lack of coordination between different sectors.
When did plastic pollution get really bad?
In the 1960s, scientists from the National Academy of Sciences discovered some alarming news: More than 100 million tonnes of waste had been dumped in our Ocean.
When did plastics become an environmental problem and why?
Plastics are pollutants of unique concern, as they do not break down quickly and accumulate in the environment as more is produced. Scientists first became aware of the problem of plastic pollution in the ocean in the 1950s, shortly after the introduction of oil-based plastics in consumer goods.
Where did the plastic problem start?
Though the story of plastic pollution, big and small, began decades ago in remote central ocean gyres, we now know that plastic debris is ubiquitous across all ocean basins, ecosystems, habitats, and food webs—including in seafood and sea salt.
A brief history of plastic
When did humans start polluting the ocean?
Humans have been polluting the environment for at least 4000 years. So say scientists who have analysed sediment from the South China Sea – but not everyone is convinced. Several early civilisations hit a crisis point about 4000 years ago.
What was the first state to ban plastic?
Bans and Fees
In August 2014, California became the first state to enact legislation imposing a statewide ban on single-use plastic bags at large retail stores.
What did people use before plastic?
Before the invention of plastic, the only substances that could be molded were clays (pottery) and glass. Hardened clay and glass were used for storage, but they were heavy and brittle. Some natural substances, like tree gums and rubber, were sticky and moldable.
Is plastic pollution getting worse?
The trillions of plastic particles — a “plastic smog,” in the words of the researchers — weigh roughly 2.4 million metric tons and are doubling about every six years, according to the study conducted by a team of international researchers led by Marcus Eriksen of the 5 Gyres Institute, based in Santa Monica, Calif.
Why is plastic the worst invention?
The way we're going, a great deal, if not most, of that plastic will end up on landfills, in turtles' stomachs, or in our bodies. Microplastics end up in animals, and enter the human food chain. Larger plastic gets stuck in animals' stomachs, blocking their digestive tracts and ultimately killing them.
Is plastic the number 1 cause of pollution?
Plastic waste makes up 80% of all marine pollution and around 8 to 10 million metric tons of plastic end up in the ocean each year. Research states that, by 2050, plastic will likely outweigh all fish in the sea.
What would happen if we stopped using plastic?
Reducing our plastic waste boasts numerous benefits, not the least of which include preserving natural resources, protecting the environment, and saving us money. The benefits of reducing plastic consumption include: Preventing pollution by lessening the amount of new raw materials used. Saves energy.
Why haven t we banned plastic?
Plastic has benefits other material don't have.
Plastic provides an air, water and hygiene-tight barrier for perishable and easily-damaged goods. This helps prolong shelf life and reduce waste (food waste is a huge contributor to carbon emissions, so this is very important in the fight against climate change).
Who pollutes the ocean the most?
10 countries pollute the world's oceans with plastic the most: the Philippines, India, Malaysia, China, Indonesia, Myanmar, Vietnam, Bangladesh, Thailand and Brazil. The paradox is that these countries do not consume the most plastic, but at the same time, they lack a quality waste management system.
When did ocean dumping start?
* In 1946, the first sea dumping operation took place at a site in the North East Pacific Ocean, about 80 kilometres off the coast of California. The last known dumping operation was in 1982, at a site about 550 kilometres off the European continental shelf in the Atlantic Ocean.
Can we survive without plastic?
In fact, plastics impact the life of every person every day and everywhere. Without plastics, food waste would increase. Without plastics, fuel costs would increase due to the heavier vehicles. Without plastics, medical care would be very difficult if not impossible.
What did shampoo come in before plastic?
Before plastic bottles existed, liquids were distributed in either glass or ceramic bottles. You've all seen glass milk bottles and glass soda bottles. It's less common today but that's how liquids were packaged and distributed. Even shampoo came in glass bottles!
How was meat sold before plastic?
How was meat packaged before plastic was invented? At the butcher counter, the required amount of meat was chosen and wrapped in paper for the journey home. Cheese was sold in a same manner and was typically wrapped in paper or fabric.
Which country is plastic free?
Rwanda. In 2008, it became the world's first 'plastic-free' nation, 10 years after it introduced a ban on all plastic bags and plastic packaging. Unlike many other countries, Rwanda is strict at enforcing its ban. Anyone caught with a plastic item in the country faces a jail sentence of up to six months.
Why did we switch from paper bags to plastic?
The bags were developed as an alternative to paper bags, which were considered bad for the environment because they resulted in forests being chopped down. They were significantly stronger than paper bags, which meant – in theory – they could be used over and over again.
Has the US banned plastic?
Currently, the U.S. has not placed a single-use plastic ban on a federal level, but this responsibility has been taken up by states and cities.
Are Ziploc bags banned in Hawaii?
Effective January 17, 2013 retailers were required to charge a fee for each plastic bag handed out. One year later, on January 17, 2014, all single-use plastic bags were banned. Hawaii County's ban does not regulate reusable or paper bags. This ban has also been extended to restaurants.
When did Americans start depending on plastic?
World War II necessitated a great expansion of the plastics industry in the United States, as industrial might proved as important to victory as military success. The need to preserve scarce natural resources made the production of synthetic alternatives a priority. Plastics provided those substitutes.
What state has the most plastic waste?
The amount of plastic waste correlates with population size. California, Texas, and Florida are the three most populous states and also have the largest amount of landfilled plastic waste. New York, however, is fourth for population, but it ships much of its waste outside of the state.