Plastic is made from oil. It takes up to 1,000 years to degrade in a landfill. Plastic in clothes and cosmetics (microfibres and microbeads ends up in our oceans and gets into the food chain and eventually into us. Plastic leaches toxic chemicals. Plastic fills the stomachs of sea creatures and prevents them eating. It may strangle or trap animals on land and in the sea.
Enough plastic is thrown away each year to circle the Earth four times.
The best way to stop this is to:-
- Reduce or remove. Stop using plastic especially plastic designed to be used once only.
- Recycle or reuse plastic. Use you plastic bags until it disintegrates then recycle.
Much plastic is single use eg straws, coffee cup lids and food packaging. This plastic is often not recycled and ends up damaging the environment. Single use plastic is a very wasteful use of oil and creates an unsightly and dangerous mess on the land and in the oceans. You can avoid this by using your own containers. Reusable water bottles, reusable bags, paper bags, refill original containers or take your own container to the shops and buy loose goods. By using reusable drink containers an average person can eliminate the need for 100 disposable bottles per year. Using aluminium or glass containers is always preferable over plastic because they are more easily recycled or reused.
Although plastic can be recycled much of it is not. When plastics are recycled, they are usually “downcycled,” that is, they are used to make a lower-quality form of plastic.
Common products that are made from recycled plastics include toys, car parts, imitation or plastic lumber, drainage pipes, clothing fibers, tables, park benches, parking lot bumpers, railroad ties, truck bed liners and garbage receptacles. And most of these cannot be recycled, making plastics a “dead-end” waste stream. This means sooner of later the plastic cannot be reused and persists in the environment.
Using recycled materials in the manufacturing process uses considerably less energy than required for producing new products from scratch – 75% less in fact, meaning the impact on the environment is lowered. Each year the average UK household uses 480 plastic bottles , but only recycles 270 of them – meaning nearly half (44%) are NOT put in the recycling. This means that nationally, of the over 35 million plastic bottles being used every day in the UK, nearly 16 million plastic bottles aren’t being put out for recycling.