There are three primary ways that the plastic we use on a daily basis gets up in the oceans. The plastic you throw away ends up in a landfill. Because plastic is so light, it is frequently blown away when trash is brought to a landfill. From there, it can ultimately clog sewers and infiltrate rivers and the sea. Or, if it is old or broken down into its component parts, it can be ingested by animals-especially birds-who mistake it for food.
The second way plastic enters the ocean is through litter. This includes any item made of plastic, such as bottle caps, bags, and wrappers. When these items wash ashore they add to the hundreds of millions of pieces of plastic that have been reported floating in ocean waters. Even small items such as bottle caps can get swept out to sea and drift for miles before sinking.
The third way plastic enters the ocean is through waste water from processing industries. Plastic particles are absorbed by this water, which then flows into lakes and streams where it can reach open seas. Other possible sources include plastic-lined landfills and garbage dumps. This source isn't as significant as the others, but it's still important to note.
Once in the ocean, plastic can remain intact for many years. However, it can also break down into smaller and smaller pieces which are eventually consumed by animals.
The world's oceans contain more than 150 million tons of plastic - that's equivalent to one inch thick layers covering every square mile of ocean floor.
The majority of this waste is burned in landfills or abandoned buildings, which releases toxic chemicals into the environment. Landfills are also a source of groundwater contamination. When plastics decompose they release toxic substances such as phthalates and bisphenol A (BPA), which can leach into the soil and water supply.
Plastic recycling tries to recycle these materials into new products. But recycling only works for a small percentage of plastic items because they're often used again for other products. For example, a plastic bottle that's been recycled five times might be used as a cap for a fresh bottle of milk.
Recycling is better than throwing things in the garbage can, but it's not perfect. Recycling still uses energy and material resources which could have been avoided if we had chosen not to use plastic in the first place.
It collects in particular areas owing to rain, wind, or ocean currents, but some of it may just remain in areas where plastic debris is deposited. Plastic production continues to expand at a fast rate. It is believed that around 3% of all plastic manufactured each year ends up in the ocean. This amount is expected to increase.
Plastic pollution has become a major threat to marine ecosystems and human health. Animals eat the plastic and eventually die; others are poisoned by chemicals leached from the plastic. The smaller pieces of plastic can be ingested by fish-eating birds or chewed up and consumed by animals who cannot see them hurtful effects. Humans also consume seafood that has been in contact with plastic for any length of time; therefore, eating imported food can put you at risk of exposure to toxic substances.
The most abundant type of plastic is polyethylene (PET or PE), which accounts for about one-third of all plastic produced. Other common types include polyvinyl chloride (PVC), polypropylene (PP), and acrylic (not used as much anymore because it's often mixed with other materials).
When plastics break down they release chemicals into the environment. These chemicals can enter water sources through landfills or when they are dumped illegally. They can also enter the air when plastic breaks down during combustion or when it is disposed of in incinerators.
If this garbage is not properly disposed of or handled, it has the potential to wind up in the ocean. Plastic, unlike certain other types of garbage, does not degrade. This implies that plastic may persist indefinitely, inflicting damage on marine ecosystems. Much of the plastic is broken down into small particles known as microplastics when it is flung around. These tiny particles are then ingested by fish and other animals who mistake them for food. They can also enter the water supply through sewage systems or wash ashore after storms.
Plastic pollution is a major concern for scientists. Not only does it threaten wildlife health, but it can also lead to habitat loss and even death. Certain species may even become dependent on plastic for survival! The main ingredient in plastic is petroleum, which comes from oil wells. As we know, oil prices fluctuate and have risen recently, which has had an impact on its use as a material. Alternative materials such as bamboo and wood are becoming available but they are still being used instead in some cases.
Ocean plastic has been found as far away as Antarctica! Although plastic does decay somewhat over time, it is estimated that it takes thousands of years for it to completely disappear. During this time, it is likely to cause further harm to our oceans.
In conclusion, plastic can break down in the ocean but it is not very efficient at doing so. The best way to remove plastic from your environment is still through recycling.
When plastics reach the water, some of them float, but not all of them. The majority of the plastic in the water comes from abandoned fishing nets. As fish eat the net, they release the fibers into the sea where they can drift for years before breaking down further.
When plastic enters the ocean, it starts to break down immediately. The chemicals in plastic are toxic to most living things, even at low levels of exposure. This includes colorants used to make plastic look like marble or wood and additives used to make plastic more flexible or durable. The breakdown process releases molecules that can be ingested by animals- especially birds. Some research has shown that about 5% of the plastic consumed by birds makes its way into their eggs.
Plastic pollution has become a major threat to our oceans. Although only a small percentage of the total waste released into the environment actually makes its way into the ocean, every piece of plastic that enters the water takes with it a story of destruction and death. Humans have the ability to destroy what nature has taken centuries to create, and it's time we stopped doing this and started taking responsibility for our actions.
Boaters may throw their rubbish directly into the water if they take a more direct path. Previously, this was the primary source of plastic in the water. The National Academy of Sciences estimated in 1975 that 14 billion pounds of waste were thrown into the ocean each year. That works out to more than 1.5 million pounds each hour. Today, there are more efficient ways for people to dispose of their trash. However, it is still possible to find much of this material on the sea floor.
Have any animals been killed by garbage dumped into the ocean? Yes. Over 100 species of animals have been found dead after entering U.S. waters contaminated with toxic chemicals from oil spills or discarded pharmaceuticals. These deaths are called "marine mammal casualties."
Does the size of cities affect how much waste they produce? Large cities generate more waste per person than smaller communities. This is because less waste is recycled and more goes into landfills or incinerators. Cities also use more energy for transportation which leads to more greenhouse gas emissions.
Does population density affect how much waste individuals produce? The number of people living in a city or town affects how much waste they produce but not how much each person produces. For example, residents of New York City produce about as much waste per person as those in San Francisco even though NYC has more people than SF.