For the next 20 years, no less than 1 billion tons of plastic trash will take up the oceans and lands of the globe if no immediate and exhaustive efforts are exerted. Countless of single-use plastic are being mass produced and disposed every single day, and has multiplied for the past months since the pandemic begun. Waste management hasn’t been much of priority lately. And recycling isn’t given much attention considering present circumstances.
There are initiatives being taken around the world right now to manage plastic pollution. But unfortunately, they’re not enough to prevent the inevitable flow of millions of tons of waste that will be disposed. Current actions can only alleviate the pollution problem by 7%.
A published study has reports an annual dumping of 11 million metric tons of waste into the ocean. However, a global collaborative effort might help if enforced strictly and with a sense of urgency. The recommended action plan by the same authors who conducted the study have stated that in order for it to work the way it is expected to, all nations from first-world to third-world should cooperate.
Financially stable countries are recommended to tighten rules to reduce manufacture and use of plastic products, increase recycling efforts, cease exports, and resolve microplastic leaching. While those that do not belong in such a category are to concentrate on segregation, reducing, reusing, and allocate budget for recycling programs.
There have been several plastic recycling technology developed all over the world, not only by experts and professionals, but by young inventors and scientists. The RT7000 melts plastic into a wax or oil-like substance called Plaxx, which is used to produce plastic products. Plastic products are predicted to climb up to 40% by the next ten years.
The inflow of trash into the large bodies of water will cause severe destruction to marine ecosystems and contaminate marine life. With the overwhelming amount of waste that already exists right now, there is little that can be done to prevent it. Rough estimates say that by the next two decades, 133 million tons of incinerated plastic, 77 million on land, and 29 million in water - will be the amount of plastic waste.
Burning of plastic is also another concerning way of plastic elimination. This process releases toxic gases up into the earth’s atmosphere such as greenhouse gases that contribute to air pollution. While it may be an easy way to get rid of the waste that could possibly end up in the land or waters, it also poses an environmental threat.
The top countries with the biggest amount of plastic waste disposal into the world’s oceans are China, Indonesia, Philippines, Vietnam, and Thailand, based on a 2015 report, with China having the largest production of plastic worldwide.
Possible solutions mainly involve a drastic disruption in the production of plastic. A chain of events such as a massive reduction in consumption, employing alternatives like paper and other biodegradable products, enhancing waste segregation and processing, could have an 80% reduction impact.