Look around. It’s everywhere. We use it every day in our lives. Plastic. But not just plastic, single-use plastic. Plastic bags, cling wrap, plastic bottles, and even tape, all meant to be used once and then thrown away. So, what is plastic? Plastic is efficient and durable, and people love it. However, plastic production has more than tripled since the 90s, and now it is contaminating the earth — ground, air and waters are being polluted. And it will get worse. But we can stop it. Governments should ban single-use plastic because it is harmful to oceans, almost all plastic isn’t biodegradable, and plastic emits hazardous fumes into the air.
One reason governments should ban single-use plastic is because it is harmful to ocean life as well as oceans itself. Plastic has been filling the oceans around the world for many years, each year causing more and more problems for animals and humans alike. Everyone knows of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, but now, five trash gyres are wandering our oceans, and just the GPGP covers 1.6 million square kilometers — twice the size of Texas and three times the size of France. A survey from multiple beach clean-ups reported that the top finds are cigarette butts, food wrappers, bottles and bags, all of which are made of plastic. With all this plastic in the oceans, over one million sea animals (mammals, fish, sharks, turtles, and sea birds) die each year. As more and more plastic makes its way into oceans, the water will become dirtier, animals — and perhaps entire species — will die off, and oceans will lose their beauty. 4 billion plastic microfibers per square kilometer litter the deep sea, and it will just keep getting worse if plastic isn’t banned.
Another reason governments should ban single-use plastic is because only a very, very few percent of plastic produced is biodegradable. A study found that in 2018 over 27 million tons of plastic produced ended up in landfills. 79% of plastic produced goes to landfills, 9% is recycled, 12% is burned, and out of all plastic production each year, just a little over 1% is biodegradable. Of the 90% of plastic that isn’t biodegradable or isn’t recycled will be on the earth for more than 10 centuries. Plastic is made without any thought of what will come next. At best, it will take plastic 1,000 – 1,200 years to fully decompose, and at worst, the plastic will seep into the environment and be ingested by plants, animals, and humans. Because of the lack of plastic that’s biodegradable, our world will succumb to plastic like cancer to the body.
Opposing people say that if plastic is banned, millions of people will lose their jobs, but if plastic isn’t banned, plastic will continue to emit harmful fumes into the air. Some people burn plastic, trying to get rid of it, but burning plastic will create heat waste which, in turn, will increase the emission of greenhouse gases, a contributor of global warming. More than 50% of energy used today is being wasted as heat. A study found that 70 million tons of plastic gets burnt each year, but not just heat waste would be released if plastic is burned, also a handful of toxic chemicals and fumes. A few toxins released when plastic gets burnt are dioxins, furans, mercury, an PCBs, which will harm vegetation, animals, and humans. If governments ban plastic, the burning of plastics will decrease, leaving future generations with clean, healthy air.
Humans create and release many types of waste into the world, but plastic may be the worst. Governments should ban single-use plastic because it is dangerous to oceans and ocean life, very little plastic is biodegradable, and a ban will reduce the burning of plastic, which will make the air we breathe safer and healthier. Plastic was once a revolutionary invention, but now, is now polluting our planet — from plastic circling the earth to the deepest reaches of the seas. Think of all the animals, plants, and future generations we could save if plastic is banned. We failed to keep the earth clean, but if we act quickly, we can still save it.