Should plastic be banned?
It is a question that has been asked by countless environmentalists, increasingly due to the sheer volume of plastic in the oceans, lakes, and rivers. This article will cover both sides of the debate, highlighting the pros and cons of banning plastic. We’ll take you through some great arguments from both sides.
1. What is the environmental impact of plastic?
The plastics industry has made a lot of effort in reducing the environmental impact of plastic waste. However, the impact is still enormous. Every year, an estimated 8 million tons of plastics end up in the ocean, and the amount of plastic waste is growing. It is estimated that by 2050, there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish. Plastic litter in the ocean has been linked to a slew of problems including pollution, damage to marine life, loss of biodiversity, lost tourism revenue, threatening fishing grounds, washing overboard of vessels, impact on breeding grounds, and disturbance of seabirds. Plastic pollution affects marine life so much more severely than previously thought, and is now causing immense damage to marine life, animals, and humans. The World Health Organization estimates that around half a million people die prematurely every year due to excessive plastic consumption. Plastic is also at the heart of another environmental problem, ocean pollution. Plastic ingestion causes stomach irritation and bloating, therefore affecting the digestive system and leading to obesity. Plastic also tends to accumulate in the digestive systems of marine animals such as whales, and can accumulate in the stomachs of people as well. The environmental impact of plastic litter is vast, but perhaps the most apparent (by far) is ocean litter. Plastic could be used to build fishnets or to make fishing gear. Take away plastics from the ocean and the problems associated there would diminish. However, there is another problem that is associated with plastic; its toxicity. Plastic can take a long time to degrade, meaning that there will always be more plastic in the environment than what is naturally occurring. When plastic started taking over the market as a sustainable alternative to metals, the designers and entrepreneurs realized they could make the plastic somewhat lighter so that plastic could be used in more products. After all, lighter plastics are generally cheaper to manufacture, and it’s not as difficult to mass-produce them since they are less expensive to burn.
2. Disposable plastics are convenient, but there are better alternatives
It’s convenient to use disposable plastic dishes, cups, cutlery, and straws but they can be really wasteful. It’s better to bring your own reusable items with you, like your own water bottle and utensils, so you can cut back on your consumption of plastics.There are two key arguments for and against plastic waste being banned. This article will cover both of those arguments. (We get commissions for purchases made through links in this post.) The argument for plastic ban is that plastic is now pervasive enough that it is causing global warming. Humans are producing 1.5 times more plastic than the amount that’s been added to the ocean in the last 50 years. If we continue down this path, it will be hard for us to reverse the damage. What we’re dealing with here is the fact that plastic is getting laid on a thick layer of rock, oil, or sand. Almost every single bit of plastic on the ocean floor has been laid on this layer. As the plastic starts to break down onto the ground, it releases large amounts of the CFC’s (converting gases to liquids) it was coated in. These gasses are a primary contributor to global warming. Another argument for plastic ban is that we have become too dependent on disposable plastic items. Retailers are now offering plastic straws that just hold very little water. This causes plastic waste, as straws are often sold in vast quantities to customers that don’t know the difference between straws and water. Many countries are addressing plastic waste by banning single-use plastics in big retailers, like Starbucks and Walmart. These sort of efforts aim to solve the “single-use” problem, while making plastic waste less of a problem in the long run. The problems presented by plastic waste is both great and bad. On the positive side, we can reduce our impact on the environment and reduce our waste. But, plastics take quite a while to biodegrade, which means we’re adding to the problem.
3. How would a ban on plastic affect businesses?
While a ban on plastic would be great for the environment, it could potentially have a negative impact on small businesses. Some small businesses rely on plastic materials for their packaging, and if they have to put more effort into finding alternative materials, they may have to pass that cost on to the customer.Banning Plastic in the ocean can have a toxic effect on the marine environment. Putting more resources towards finding alternative plastic (such as algae or other microplastics) were mentioned by many as the main reasons to not impose a plastic ban. Conservation/Research: Plastic waste often lands in marine habitats and is often ingested by marine life. Research found this ingestion can have negative affects on feeding, reproduction, and survival of marine life. Environment: Umbrellas are usually made with plastic, and ocean plastic influxes have caused plastic pollution. Also, plastics can take thousands of years to degrade in the ocean (compared to traditional materials which degrade over in 10 years), making it more difficult and detrimental for new plastics to degrade into healthier alternatives. Quick Fix: Conservation and research must be focal points when thinking about plastic in the ocean. Aside from the negative effect it has on marine life, plastic can also harm humans on beaches. Further research is needed into where plastic ends up in our bodies, and how it may impact our quality of life. We can all agree that plastic is not the best, and properly used products can have a huge impact on the environment. However, a ban on plastic in the ocean does have some advantages. Taking away plastics from the ocean would not be as effective in filtering the waste nor would it mimic the same loading process in landfills. Laser abatement technology already works incredibly well underwater, so removing plastic from the ocean before it has a chance to degrade shouldn’t pose much of a problem.
4. Is it right to ban something that has so many benefits?
Is it right to ban something that has so many benefits? I don’t know the answer to that question, but I do know that there is a strong movement to ban the most widely used herbicide in the world. That herbicide is glyphosate, and it’s commonly known as Roundup.Roundup is a synthetic herbicide developed by Monsanto, first approved in mass usage in 1974. Most of us likely know the initial reaction when we see the word ‘Roundup.’ We’ll perhaps instantly think of the Round Up commercials where the dour Englishman in a lab coat always looks sharp and sophisticated. Of course, that is far from the truth. Roundup is by far the most commonly used herbicide in the world, and it is the most environmentally destructive. This is why so many are campaigning to ban or drastically restrict the use of glyphosate. Back in 2016, the non-profit organization Earthworks released a study titled “Ban Roundup. Save the Biosphere”. They were able to piece together a pretty overwhelming case against using the chemical glyphosate, even stating that “We calculate the use of glyphosate to be about 3,720 pounds of chemical fertilizer per acre, or 2.2 pounds of chemical per American family, for every acre of land devoted to producing crops for food, which translates to nearly 5,800 million pounds of chemical released into the atmosphere every year.” An abstract from the study can be found on their website. The problem with their argument is that glyphosate is nothing more than the weed killer of choice for many farmers across the globe today. It is used on over 80% of the crops grown around the world. Because it isn’t labeled ‘chemical’ much of the time, it is often used as an ingredient in other products, and therefore its ppm emissions from human consumption are surprisingly high. This means that a large portion of the chemicals we produce and consume every year are from glyphosate use. So, the one and only environmental argument for banning glyphosate, at least for the time being, is flawed.
5. Should you ban plastic at home or just in public places?
The debate about banning plastic is one that’s been raging for quite some time. Plastic is an incredible material that has helped shape our world. It’s cheap, lightweight, easy to work with and recyclable. But the downside of plastic is that it’s not biodegradable.It takes centuries to break down into nutrients that can be used by plants to grow. It’s also incredibly hard to recycle because plastics are usually made from petrochemicals and fossil fuels, which are difficult to remove from the final product. Plastic litter is a big problem globally, where an estimated 390 million tons of plastic waste is produced annually. However, the problem becomes more significant when collecting plastic litter isn’t tracked properly. Research has shown that in many parts of the world plastic litter is 10,000 times higher than the legally permitted limit. Plastic has been found all across the marine environment, with a concentration too high to ignore. Seaweed, for example, contains plastic in quantities up to 1000 times higher than the maximum limit, with plastic fragments often clumping up to kilometer-per-kilometer in size. Plastic even shows up in the eggs of some marine animals. Most plastics are invisible to the naked eye, though they can be found in great quantities in the seabed. Plastic is everywhere and has a profound negative effect on the environment both in the land and the sea. Fortunately, there are many situations where plastic isn’t particularly damaging. Biodegradable plastics are not impacted as heavily by temperature or sunlight as many plastics containing microplastics. Batteries are generally not impacted due to their low weight. Recyclable plastics can even be produced from crops like corn and sugar cane, which is a big reason why they’re often used to make bottles. So how does plastic harm the environment? The chemical composition of plastic largely determine its impact on the environment. All plastics are composed of small molecules, these molecules have unpaired electrons that if removed are emitted into the atmosphere when things break down.