Plastic is the Problem

The article I analyzed, entitled, Seven charts that explain the plastic pollution problem, by BBC News explains how plastic consumption, not only in the United States, but across the globe have a series of severe impacts on our environment, and maintain there for a plethora of years.

The article first explains the amount of plastic that have been produced to date of the article (December 2017). It has been recorded that 8.3bn tonnes of plastic had been produced, and as of 2015, only 9% was recycled, 12% was incinerated, and 79% was accumulated in landfills or in the natural environment. This vast amount of waste should not be extremely surprising, considering plastic products are usually ‘throwaway’ or ‘single use’ items.

Later in the article, it explains the amount of plastic that ends up in the sea. The article estimates that about 10m tonnes of plastic makes its way into the oceans annually. A study published by the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis and the University of Georgia in Athens conducted a survey which found that Asian nations were 13 of the 20 largest contributors to plastic waste in the oceans. Although the US was not the biggest contributor, we were still ranked in the top 20, meaning that we are not off the hook for ocean contamination.

The most interesting graph I found was a bar graph that estimates how long certain plastic products take to biodegrade. The graph shows that it takes 50 years for a Styrofoam cup to degrade. This basically means that everyday your morning coffee cup will stay in the environment for about half a century.


Source: Seven charts that explain the plastic pollution problem

3 thoughts on “Plastic is the Problem

  1. This graph is really interesting but also kind of depressing. The most surprising aspect of the graph you included is that it takes 450 years for a baby diaper to biodegrade because baby diapers are a good that will always be necessary but more people need to understand the damage they have on the environment. Alternatives such as cloth diapers and diapers made from recycled materials should be better advertised and, better yet, used more widely throughout the U.S. and other countries. And, to be honest, thinking about used diapers floating around in the ocean is a terrible mental picture.

  2. This graph that you included is truly terrifying to see how long plastics will last when they are discarded in the ocean. Knowing that it will take six hundred years for fishing line to dissolve is so scary because it is nearly impossible for sea animals to see and gets them tangled and trapped. However, I believe that we can fix this problem if we strive to make conscious decisions to avoid just throwing fishing lines into the water when they are no longer being used.

  3. Wow Makenzie! This post is so fascinating, I had no idea that it took so long for these everyday items to decompose. It is so shocking to me that it takes 450 years for a plastic bottle to degrade, yet people use them so often, sometimes even forgetting to recycle. I think the raises a significant point on why it’s important to care about where you put your trash, and to take time to recycle even if it takes extra effort. I think that we should raise awareness about these numbers, if people knew that a plastic water bottles took 450 years to degrade, they might be more conscious of there lifestyle choices.

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