L’plastic pollution is an increasingly important and pressing issue. The UN has named plastic pollution the most serious pollution problem of all. Plastic that we use every day several times a day pollutes the environment, kills animals and is deposited in the sea. sea and oceans, spreading microplastics that end up on our tables. Are there solutions to the pollution caused by plastic? How to reduce it? Let us try to define the difficult situation in which the planet currently finds itself and outline a possible way forward for a more sustainable system.
POLLUTION CAUSED BY PLASTIC
L’plastic pollution is a problem that is increasingly in the public eye. This is because in the last few years there has been a peak in the production of this material: we have gone from 2.3 million tonnes of plastic produced in 1950 to 448 million tons produced in 2015, and this production is expected to double by 2050.
Around 8 million tonnes of waste plastic plastic ends up in the oceans every year and some of it will stay there more than 400 years before degrading. The problem with this material is disposal as it is extremely durable but is often used for short periods of time, especially the disposable plastic which has a very short life span.
THE EFFECTS OF PLASTIC ON THE ENVIRONMENT
Millions of animals die because of plastic pollution. When this material enters the animals' diet, they are killed by hunger, since the sense of satiety after having ingested it is deceptive. In other cases, animals are strangled or immobilized by pieces of plastic in the sea from which they cannot free themselves.
When the plastic starts to degrade, it splits into particles that can be even smaller than half a centimetre, these are called microplastics and are the subject of the most recent studies onplastic pollution. Microplastics have been found everywhere on the planet: from mountains to seas and even in city water systems. They are ingested by all animals, not just marine animals, and so arrive on our tables. Microplastics are known to have a negative effect on the environment, but the extent of the damage these tiny particles can cause is still unknown.
HOW TO ACT AGAINST PLASTIC POLLUTION
If this is the worrying reality we have to face the question to ask is only one: how to reduce plastic pollution? Recent studies confirm that it is necessary to act in two directions, that is, reducing both the production and the consumption of plastic. The types of intervention are mainly two:
- Pre-consumption interventions
These are all those strategies that act on the production of plastic at the origin and therefore focus on its replacement with other non-polluting materials. The search for alternative materials, especially in packaging and more easily biodegradable is fundamental in this sense.
- Post-consumer interventions
These are all those strategies aimed at optimizing the disposal and recycling of plastic to avoid its dispersion in the environment. So it is about aspects related to separate collection and recycling technologies.
A structural change is needed that promotes combined action and enables the implementation of all possible technologies to reduce the production of plastics. plastic and to optimise its disposal and recycling. The ideal goal is to achieve a circular economy, but in such a profound change everyone is involved on several levels. Companies, political organizations, individual citizens must converge towards a common goal. It is precisely with this in mind that the single-use plastic ban in 2021.
THE PLASTIC FREE JULY
Every July since 2011 the initiative Plastic Free Julythat is Plastic Free July. The Plastic Free Foundation aims to achieve a world free from plastic waste. In ten years the Plastic Free July has become one of the most followed environmental campaigns in the world, since anyone can participate in the initiative by registering on the website. Then, everyone during the month of July will receive advice on how to reduce the use of plastic in everyday life.
The initiative aims to raise awareness and make people think about the plastic consumptionIt is a challenge with oneself to understand how simple a more sustainable lifestyle can be. Sharing your progress on social media means contributing to the awareness campaign and raising awareness in your network of friends. Sign up for the challenge and share your changes with the #PlasticFreeJuly, #MyPlastcFreeJulyChallenge and #PlasticFreeJuly2021.