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Global Plastic Pollution Problem and Its Drivers Research Paper

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Updated: Jul 2nd, 2022

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In contemporary society, plastic contamination has become one of the most pressing environmental concerns. The primary challenge is the production and use of plastic products, which overwhelm the environment’s capacity to withstand. The most affected areas include the Asian countries and developing states, which do not have efficient garbage gathering systems. However, even the first-world nations have low recycling rates and do not fully invest in the collection. The usage of plastic has become deeply embedded in everyday culture, from consumer products to electronic equipment. It is also used in construction and heavy industry and the manufacture of automobiles (Carney Almroth & Eggert, 2019). It is essentially a problem that cannot be solved at a national level; there is a great need for the international community’s cooperation. The primary causative agents include inappropriate discarding of the junk from materials such as fishing nets and plain trash. The most significant source of plastic pollution is improper disposal because it is the easiest to manage directly.

Causative Agents

Plastic pollution occurs when its products gather in an area and negatively affect the natural environment, causing problems to humans, plants, and wildlife. Plastic’s long durability and low biodegradation rate make it a toxic pollutant. There are three main types of plastic debris: mega, macro and micro-plastics. The most significant damage on land and sea has been caused by the first and the last, accumulating in high densities. Usually, macro and mega-plastics are found in domestic items such as footwear and packaging discarded in landfills (Carney Almroth & Eggert, 2019). Fishing-related waste is mostly dumped on isolated islands and classified as primary or secondary, depending on their degradation level.

Ideally, one assumes that the problem can be easily managed by recycling or cleaning empty bottles. However, the garbage size can vary from huge ones to microscopic ones whose ill effects are irreversible. One such cause is plain old trash, which is everywhere, even on items where one cannot typically expect to find. The milk cartons are lined with plastic, similar to water bottles, which people use almost in any setting (Biswal & Kar, 2020). Other products may contain tiny plastic beads, which are equally toxic to the environment, especially aquatic life. Each time these items are thrown away, the harmful pollutants enter the environment and get absorbed, causing more significant harm. The challenge is worsened by landfills and trash dumps, which allow the materials into the ground affecting groundwater for extended durations (Biswal & Kar, 2020). The chemical bonds that hold plastic particles together are long-lasting, making them difficult to decompose. Hence, the damage will be felt far into the future since every particle that has ever been manufactured and dumped still exists.

Other harmful agents include fishing nets and disposal procedures of plastic garbage. Countless people eat fish for their daily survival, either for food or the economic role it plays. However, the fishing equipment and nets used for large-scale trolling operations are plastic and leak toxins due to the prolonged period underwater. Some further get broken, lost, abandoned, pollute the water, harm local wildlife, and trap marine animals, swallowing the toxic particles (Napper & Thompson, 2020). Additionally, plastic waste disposal is often ineffectively managed, and most of it ends in landfills. It cannot be burned because of air contamination, and the process of recycling equally results in plastic irritants. Rapid urbanization and industrialization contribute significantly to its overuse in the world. There is hence excessive demand for cheap plastic, which is durable and serves myriads of tasks. Consequently, it leads to greater production to meet the needs in everyday life.

References

Biswal, T., & Kar, P. K. (2020). Plastic pollution and its effect on the environment. In K. A. Wani et al. (Eds.), Handbook of research on environmental and human health impacts of plastic pollution (pp. 1−28). IGI Global.

Carney Almroth, B., & Eggert, H. (2019). Marine plastic pollution: Sources, impacts, and policy issues. Review of Environmental Economics and Policy, 13(2), 317−326.

Napper, I. E., & Thompson, R. C. (2020). Plastic debris in the marine environment: History and future challenges. Global Challenges, 4(6), 1900081.

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