ISLAMABAD:A series of new reports are raising concerns about the damage plastic waste is doing to oceans harming marine animals, destroying sensitive ecosystems, and contaminating the fish we eat.
But experts say that the solution to the problem isn’t in the ocean it’son land.
The United Nations Environment Programme, as well as the NGOs Global Ocean Commission and Plastic Disclosure Project, released reports on Monday ringing the alarm bell about the environmental impact of debris on marine life, CNN Reported.
Plastic waste in oceans is causing $13 billion of damage each year,according to the UNEP report, and that figure could be much higher.
Worldwide plastic production is projected to reach 33 billion tons by 2050, and plastic makes up 80% of litter on oceans and shorelines.
“Plastics undoubtedly play a crucial role in modern life, but the environmental impacts of the way we use them cannot be ignored,” said UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner in a press release.
Ten to 20 million tons of plastic end up in the ocean each year, from litter, run off from poorly managed landfills, and other sources.
Once it’s in the water, plastic does not degrade but instead breaks into smaller pieces and swirls in massive ocean gyres, creating soupy surfaces peppered with the material.
Scientists are especially worried about the growing prevalence of tiny microplastics which are smaller than 5 millimeters. These include microbeads, which are used in toothpaste, gels, facial cleansers and other consumer goods.
Microplastics aren’t filtered by sewage treatment plants, and can be ingested by marine animals with deadly effect.
It’s expensive and ineffective to clean up existing marine debris. Picking trash off beaches or sweeping it from the ocean surface “does nothing to fix the problem at the source,” said Doug Woodring, the co-founder of Ocean Recovery Alliance, the NGO behind the Plastic Disclosure Project.
“It’s not just an ocean problem, it’s a business and a municipal issue,” Woodring said. “The ocean is just downstream of our activities.The real solution is upstream at the producer and user end.”
Governments can help solve the problem by regulating the use of plastics and creating infrastructure to recycle them. For example,dozens of nations have banned plastic bags at supermarkets or restricted their use.
The general public can also be conscious about their plastic footprint by simply purchasing goods without a lot of excess plastic packaging. People should also separate their plastic from other waste and recycle it, Woodring said.
Companies that produce plastic goods have perhaps the biggest opportunity to make a difference, Woodring said. They can engage their customers with rebate or deposit programs, giving them incentives to bring back plastic for recycling.
Source : APP