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Mass Plastic Production And Plastic Waste

2178 words - 9 pages

One individual creates four and a half pounds of waste each day compared to two and a half pounds per person from the 1960s. With this increased amount of waste, there are limited amounts of outlets for trash to be properly discarded. Most of this litter travels to oceans and endangers marine life and their habitats. The main types of debris that cause the most harm to oceanic organisms are plastics from varying sources such as landfills and human recreation, trap ropes used for fishing, and remnants from human recreation. Plastic is the most harmful form of debris to marine life because it has the tendency to break down into minute sizes similar to zooplankton, which is a major food source ...view middle of the document...

With the decrease in price to produce items made out of plastic, many items began to be produced as plastic and continue to be produced as plastics. The versatility and inexpensiveness of plastic brought an onslaught of plastic manufacturing and product creation that utilized many plastic and plastic-based products with a lowered price than other manufacturing materials such as glass and metal. However, many plastic products are not made with degradable components or components that can be broken down without affecting the environment. Without completely degradable plastics and recycling for all plastic products, improper waste disposal, such as littering or trash dumping, creates a substantial amount of plastic waste within the environment. Waste disposal is sometimes inconvenient, not encouraged or supported, and not offered for various remaining plastics, which dissuades individuals from attempting to recycle or properly dispose of harmful plastic products. Because disposal is not encouraged or supported nationally, “plastics [have grown to] typically constitute ten percent of waste” (1985) in current society.
Plastic waste is generated through multiple sources, such as landfills and trash barges, where preventing pollution from entering global water sources is not necessarily a priority or a concern. Plastic from landfills and trash barges differ in size depending on where they originate. Macro-plastics, which are typically large plastics such as water bottles, buckets, and other products that can be seen with the naked eye, originate from land-based sources whereas micro-plastics, which are extremely microscopic and intermingled with zooplankton in the surface water of the ocean, begin as parts of larger plastic products before breaking down into minute specks. While the majority of macro-plastics are land-based and micro-plastics are ocean-based, there are some macro-plastics that are ocean-based. Ocean-based macro-plastics result from “merchant shipping, ferries and cruise liners” (Jeftic, Sheavly, Adler, & Meith 13) as well as “military fleets and research vessels” (13). Ships and fleets that utilize the ocean for transportation often lose contents of crates or onboard litter, such as “basketball shoes, hockey gloves and bath toys” (Barnes, Galgani, Thompson, & Barlaz 1986) as well as . Land-based waste comes from human recreation and “coastal tourism involving recreational visitors and beach-goers” (Jeftic, Sheavly, Adler & Meith 13). Items such as packaging, carrier bags, footwear, cigarette lights and other domestic items enter the ocean by wind removing them from landfill sites, being lost from a trash barge, or being destroyed in accidents in the ocean (Barnes, Galgani, Thompson, and Barlaz 1986). Another type of mega-debris would be trap line and fishing line, which largely affects marine ecosystems and generates entanglement issues.
Every type of litter is harmful to marine ecosystems, but entanglement is a “primary form of...

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