It is feared that with plastic pollution, we may have reached the point of no return. Or we may soon if the current rate of global plastic emissions are not reined in immediately. Studies by researchers in Norway, Sweden, and Germany have revealed that plastic pollution concerns the whole planet, and the standard policy response should be to immediately go for a drastic reduction of plastic emissions into the environment.
Plastic covers large areas of the planet’s land and oceans. It is there everywhere from mountains to the deserts. Even the Arctic snows are awash with fine particles of plastic. The estimates vary but the yearly rate of deposit on the water surface of the planet is anywhere between 9 and 23M metric tons. A similar quantity gets deposited on the landmass of the planet. And what should be even more worrying is that the rates are set to double by 2025 if the current trend in the production of plastics continues.
Even countries that have strong measures to collect and dispose of plastics are not immune to the inundation. Mathew MacLeod of Stockholm University said that superior waste-handling facilities are no guarantee of a plastic-free environment. Even though public awareness has increased, there appears to be no let-up in the rate of emissions.
Mine Tekman from the Alfred Wegener Institute says that plastic pollution is no longer an environmental issue but also an economic and political one. The present technologies and processes used for cleanup and recycling would not be enough to tackle the overall problem.
Plastic Pollution Can Be Curbed Only By Control Over Production And Disposal
Tekman says that it is unrealistic to expect that the removal and recycling of plastic pollution would magically make the problem disappear. Countries with better infrastructure have been merely transporting their plastic waste to poorer countries and paying them to accept it.
Immediate steps include a drastic reduction in the production of virgin plastic and steps to ensure that plastic pollutants are not exported to countries that do not have better facilities to treat them.
Read: The Single-Use Plastics Offenders: 20 Firms Behind Half The Global Output Of The Toxic Waste
The current process of cleaning up and weathering is not enough to set right the current imbalance between production and disposal. Plastic degrades very slowly. And the problem is worse in remote environments which are fragile and outside the cleanup process of plastic pollution.
We continue to add plastic pollution to the environment each day. While the indicators of immediate consequences are still not widespread, we are in no position to take any action when that happens. The sensible thing would be to act immediately to stop the accumulation of plastic pollution.