|Introduction: Describe plastic debris in the ocean.|
Body: What are the challenges associated with plastic waste & what is the solution to remove it?
Conclusion: Conclude with a positive statement.
A study published in the journal PLoS ONE estimated 170 trillion plastic particles weighing about 2 million metric tons are currently afloat in the oceans across the world. The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is a collection of marine debris in the North Pacific Ocean. Marine debris is litter that ends up in the ocean, seas, and other large bodies of water. The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is the largest accumulation of ocean plastic in the world and is located between Hawaii and California. It contains an estimated 45,000-1,29,000 metric tonnes of plastic, predominantly in the form of microplastics.
What are the challenges associated with plastic debris?
- Marine ecosystem: Microplastics measure less than 5mm in diameter and are harmful to marine organisms as they consume them as food which affects their health. This leads to a loss of biodiversity and in turn, threatens ecosystem balance.
- Carbon cycle: Microplastic disturbs the carbon cycle of the oceans affecting the carbon sequestration process.
- Coastal tourism: Plastic debris also affects coastal tourism as tourists don’t come to polluted beaches and it adversely affects the local community. Underwater sites are littered with plastic bottles, bags, fishing nets, and fragments of single-use plastics.
- Food chain: Plastics enter the marine organism which is finally consumed by humans thus affecting their food chain. Consumption of plastic by humans is harmful since several chemicals that are used to produce plastics can be carcinogenic.
What steps can be taken to clean the ocean?
- Ban single-use plastic: The need of the hour is to implement a global resolution calling for limiting the production of single-use, throwaway plastic. This approach promotes a sustainable environment, and intergenerational equity, saves marine and wildlife ecosystems, and restores soil quality.
- Recycling: Companies manufacturing plastic should follow the “polluter pays” principle and should be legally required to put at least 75% recycled plastic in any new product.
- Strengthen Local Government: Urban governance framework should be transparent, and accountable and focus on citizen participation to make cities and beaches clean and manage the debris within their territory.
- Other measures: Better waste management can be achieved by promoting multiple uses of plastic, need to educate the public regarding the harmful use of microplastic, and providing subsidies for research and development activity for substitute development, appropriate disposal mechanisms, and waste management and use of waste for constructive usage like roads.
Plastic has pervaded our lives and polluted our urban areas, rivers, and forests, from slopes of the highest peaks to the depths of abyssal trenches. We must act now to protect our marine ecosystem which is vital for the global population and survival of our planet Earth.