Of Plastic, Planet & Pumped out Pollutionby Shubhangi Jena July 26 2017, 4:48 pm
People around the world, undoubtedly, are prolific garbage producers. However, the amount of plastic waste being churned out have multiplied immensely. Scientists claim that more than 8 billion tons of plastic has been produced since 1950s which clearly shows that the figure is devastating. Contextually speaking, the total amount of waste produced is equal to that weight of 60 million blue whales or 138 army tanks. Gobsmacking, isn’t it?
Post the advent of mass-production in 1950, scientists calculate that about 8.3 billion tons of plastic has been churned out. The aftermath? About 6.3 billion tons of plastic is now littering country sides and oceans or being stuffed in landfills. Of the total amount of plastic production, roughly around half was manufactured in the last 13 years. Scientists claim that if this trend continues, roughly 12 billion tons of plastic waste will be clogging the environment or landfills by 2050.
With increasing mass-production of plastics, researchers now pool together all their findings to inform discussions on sustainability. The scientists compiled production statistics for resins, fibers and additives from a range of industry sources, drawing a distinction between plastics and materials used extensively in construction, such as steel and cement. The study's lead author, Roland Geyer, said: "Roughly half of all the steel we make goes into construction, so it will have decades of use. Plastic is the opposite - half of all plastics become waste after four or fewer years of use."
A shift from reusable to single-use containers is the mainspring issue. Previous researches show that the average stretch of time for single-time use of plastics is only 11 minutes. Since, 12% of our plastics is incinerated, it also creates a dent in the climatic equilibrium.
Worst case scenario is such that unlike other materials, plastic can stay in the environment for thousands of years. Co-author Dr. Jenna Jambeck, from the University of Georgia, says: "Most plastics don't biodegrade in any meaningful sense, so the plastic waste humans have generated could be with us for hundreds or even thousands of years. Our estimates underscore the need to think critically about the materials we use and our waste management practices."
In the truest sense, we are bottling up our own world in a tunnel of pollution.