The Fight Against Plastic – Where Are We Now?
Take a look around your immediate vicinity. How many plastic items can you identify within 15 seconds?
For me, it was twelve items. If given a few more, I could easily find 30 different items made from this material, just on my desk.
Plastic is quickly becoming one of our biggest environmental issues – and it’s not slowing down.
According to a study published in the Science Advances journal, 8,3 billion tons is the accumulative number for all the plastic that has ever been manufactured, starting from the 1950’s. This number is enough to cover the surface area of the 8th biggest country on Earth. If you were to spread this down to an ankle-deep depth, you would not be able to see the soil of Argentina – at all. Of this number, 6,3 billion tons have already become trash, and almost 80% of that amount is currently sitting in landfills. Furthermore, 8 million tons end up in the world’s oceans, killing marine life at an alarming rate.
Scientists are comparing this environmental threat to climate change, since the seriousness of the two situations are very similar. As a man-made material, plastic is designed to last a very long time, and does not biodegrade. This means that once it’s in nature, it stays there. In addition, it has a very negative effect on human health. Chemicals that are leached from plastics flow into our water systems, end up in our drinking water, and effectively poison us. Exposure to these chemicals is linked to cancers, decreased immunity systems, endocrine ailments and birth defects.
What’s the good news?
The world is becoming more and more aware of this issue, and the following organizations, companies and communities are working to fight the ongoing disposal of this material. The following places and organizations have figured out a way to fight the plastic issue – and with rather amazing results.
1. Plastic Bank
In weight, plastic is actually worth more than steel. The founders of the organization Plastic Bank realized that this provided a possible manner to address the problem, and started engaging with communities to exchange this material to improve communities. They encourage locals in poor communities to exchange plastic for money, items or Blockchain secured digital tokens, thereby revealing the value in plastic. This effort is empowering recycling ecosystems around the world and stops the flow of plastic into the oceans, all while helping people living in poverty build better futures. Click here to discover Farmer Angus’ take on disposable nappies as environmental waste.
2. Ocean Cleanup
At the age of 18, Dutch inventor Boyan Slatt founded the organization that is working toward ridding the world’s oceans of plastic. Their passive system is comprised of a floater with a solid screen underneath, concentrating the debris and leading it to a collection system. The system is slowed down by a drift anchor suspended at an approximate depth of 600 meters, making the system move slower than the plastic and therefore catching it. They are currently focusing the majority of their attention on the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, and estimate to halve it in five years. Click here to find out more about this organization – and what you can do to help.
3. Kamikatsu, Japan
As a country, Japan is already environmentally responsible and does their part to reduce their carbon footprint. However, this small town in south-western part of the country makes traditional recycling look like child’s play. According to Business Insider, Kamikatsu employs 34 different categories of waste. All the residents of this community sort their waste into these categories at the town’s sorting center, a process of which is now routine. By 2020, they plan to be completely waste-free. Click here to find out more about this town.
4. Avani, Indonesia
Could plastic be biodegradable? Thanks to this company, it now can – and it doesn’t harm the environment, as the replacement is made from a natural, 100% plant-based material. According to Kevin Kumala, the Chief Green Officer of Avani, Indonesia is currently overrun with plastic waste. In order to address the issue, Avani has recently invented a biodegradable “plastic” bag that looks and feels like this material, but is made from yuca, a root vegetable. It is very durable and dissolves, meaning it won’t have a negative impact on the environment it ends up in. They also produce other packaging products that aim to decrease the amount of single -use plastic produce currently ending up in the environment. Click here to find out more about this company and what they work for.
So, what can you do to help the fight against plastic?
Click on the following link to find out how you can easily use less plastic and save ocean life.