Plastic ..!! Yes, it’s everywhere … not only in the grocery stores and department stores as well as every other commercial outlet you can think of, not to forget your cupboards and closets but on the ground and the streets, in the landfills, in the lakes, and waterways, in the seas. And it’s not going anywhere. For, Forever.
It’s not biodegradable. And “the great majority of the plastics that have been made up to now are likely not to be recycled,” Zoë Schlanger. And that will be nearly forever, collapsing into microplastics that make up most of the areas scientists are searching for. According to the Center for Biological Diversity, the Great Pacific Garbage Patch: “A eddies of plastic waste in the Pacific North Central Ocean” about twice the size of Texas. And even that’s just a small portion of it: “Plastic is predicted to overtake all fish in the water by 2050 at existing rates.” Plastic contamination has a strong and lethal impact on biodiversity. Thousands of seabirds and sea turtles, whales, and other millions of animals are killed every year after they are swallowed or trapped in plastic.
“Dead seabirds are also found with synthetic stomachs. Dead whales with a belly full of plastic have been found.” In the first decade of the new century, we made more plastic than any other plastic in history. And annually, billions of pounds of even more plastic end up in the oceans of the world. Researchers suggest that there are now 15-51 trillion pieces of plastic in the world’s oceans — from the equator to the poles, from the Arctic ice sheet to the seafloor. Confronted with the global crisis that is affecting the fossil fuel industry, energy producers are rushing to make more plastic. But they face two challenges: many economies are now full to the brim in chemicals, and few countries are eager to be dumping grounds for the world’s plastic waste.
“So the New York Times told us a few days ago in a potpourri of ironic news. Not like the lot of us are threatened by it — the world is becoming increasingly less livable — but by the “inevitable fall” in demand for fossil fuels. But the industry is “pivoting to plastics” to leverage the oversupply of oil and gas, but facing two challenges: most consumers are “awash” in plastic, and besides that, we’re running out of places to waste plastic when it’s chance to throw it out. Before we move forward, at least one issue resonates like “a lagoon of plastic waste.” Recycled material, which we pretend to be doing, doesn’t necessarily mean, recycle it. That means exporting it to other nations to do whatever they want to do from it, which means erasing it in the first place. But there’s a question. Why can’t the richest, most dominant country on Earth deal with — by which I mean, actually recycle and reuse — its trash? Again, from the New York Times: “In 2019, American exporters exported over 1 billion pounds of plastic waste to 96 countries, including Kenya, presumably to be recycled according to trade figures.
Yet most of the waste, often comprising the hardest-to-recycle contaminants, ends up in waterways and oceans instead. And after China closed its ports to the bulk of plastic waste in 2018, exporters were searching for new dumping grounds. Exports to Africa more than quadrupled from a year ago in 2019.” So Big Oil, based on Kenya as a center, sees Africa as the place to save it, both as a competition and a dumping site. But there are a lot of concerns about this. Kenya has also implemented several stringent rules restricting plastic bags and other single-use disposable bags. And something is known as the Basel Convention, an international treaty — unenforceable by the United States — restricts the ability of rich nations to ship undesired trash to poor nations. Yet oil industry lobbyists are aiming to manipulate the U.S. trade agreement to persuade Kenya to relax its plastic limits and open up the region to both agricultural products and waste.
What are we going to do about ourselves? Is life beyond plastic? Of course, I don’t have any solutions, but the questions run without stopping. So they’re not going to break down.