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The time to beat plastic pollution is now or never

Updated: Jan 20

beat plastic pollution

Plastics have become an integral part of our life. The world purchases around one million plastic bottles every minute and uses one billion plastic bags every hour. Low cost, durability, light weight, and ease of processing have made plastics extremely attractive to both individual consumers and industries.

While there may be some social benefits of using plastic, these come at the cost of our environment, severely threatening humanity and biodiversity. While the efforts to reduce plastic pollution by governments, civil societies, and businesses are encouraging, there is still a long way to go as the amount of plastic waste is rapidly increasing. This year's World Environment Day is essentially a call for widespread action to beat plastic pollution and save humanity, wildlife, and our entire planet.

Plastic is a potential threat to life and is now considered the most pressing environmental concern. Almost half of all plastic products are intended to be single-use, and of the around 380 million tonnes of plastic produced each year globally, only nine percent is recycled. A report published by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) in 2022 says around three-fourths of plastic products worldwide end up in landfills or natural surroundings. Plastic waste takes a long time to decompose as the materials used in the products do not exist in our environment, and there are no naturally occurring organisms that can break them down effectively. The time taken for plastic products to decompose can differ depending on their type and the condition of exposure. For example, a plastic bag can decompose in 10 to 1,000 years, while a plastic bottle, an essential part of our daily life, can take up to 450 years to degrade. Untreated plastic waste also adds toxic substances to our environment.

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