Plastic is moldable yet durable, and this versatility allows it to be everywhere and in everything, from medical devices to toothbrushes and pillows. Its benefits and role in the rapid transformation of our society are impossible to deny, but our relationship to the marvelous plastic can be an unhealthy one because we tend to overuse it and dispose of it in our oceans.
And to understand this relationship more, I’ve decided to create an article with some of the most interesting facts about plastic, good and bad, so each one of you can come to an unbiased conclusion.
The hard truth
Around the globe, more than one million plastic bottles are bought from shops and sold every fifty seconds, on average. The impressive figure will rise by 20 percent by the time the next decade is over. In 2017, at least 480 billion plastic bottles were consumed and thrown in the garbage around the world, a number large enough to scare even a skeptical person. To put this feature into perspective, the produced waste would reach more than halfway to our sun.
Plastic is so common that it has even made its vicious way into the food we consume and in our drinking water reserves. Scientists at a university in Belgium estimated that the average European citizen consumes up 6,400 microplastic particles per year from seafood. Similarly, more than 83 percent of tap water samples were found to contain microplastics, things that can get us sick.
The interesting part
On average, it takes about four hundred years for one soda bottle to break down in the ground because there are no bacteria that like to eat this material. Although now there’s some proof of a microorganism which feeds off of it, so maybe there’s hope for the future.
Another interesting fact is that 11% of all household waste is plastic and related materials, and 40% of that waste is comprised of plastic bottles. Moreover, the plastic bags and the other trash thrown by humans in the ocean kill one million sea creatures every year.
The good news is that recycling plastic saves more than twice as much energy than melting it in an incinerator. And recycling one ton of plastic bottles can save 5,774 kWh of energy and 30 cubic yards in a landfill.
There’s a Florida-based company named Saltwater Brewery that crafts beer, and it created entirely edible six-pack rings from brewing by-products like wheat and barley. The rings have the same strength as the plastic variety, but they can be eaten as snacks.
And the last cool fact is that there’s a type of plastic which can be created from milk. The resulting innovative product is odorless, insoluble in water, antiallergenic, biodegradable, antistatic and, as if that wasn’t enough, virtually non-flammable. The only real problem is that it is expensive to make and that it cannot be molded once set.