Plastic bottle pollution on land, at sea and in our bodies
Plastic bottle pollution is much bigger than you think. “How do you know what I’m thinking,” you may ask? If you’re similar in your views on bottle pollution to those surveyed in a recent Gallup poll you probably see plastic bottle pollution as just the finished bottle. That’s where we’ve underestimated the effects of plastic bottle pollution.
Plastic bottles and fossil-fuels!
Plastic bottle pollution requires millions of barrels of oil in production each year, according to the Worldwatch Institute. The US is considered the worst culprit. For example, the US uses the oil equivalent of fuelling a million motor-vehicles on the road for a year in plastic bottle production!
Plastic bottles are delivered over long distances. As a result, this increases their Carbon Footprint considerably. In this way, plastic bottles use up fossil fuels through transportation. Here’s a random fact: Fiji exported seventy million litres of bottled H20 to the USA last year. This means that nearly 2500 tons of pollution were added to the environment through that single act.
Plastic production requires significant amounts of petroleum and natural gas products. Did you know that approximately 5% of the Earth’s fossil-fuels’ production is directed at the creation of plastic bottles? One needs to take into account the production-cost to the environment, once the facts have been considered. That is to say, extracting these non-renewable fuels consumes energy and releases greenhouse gases.
Can’t we just dump our old bottles in landfills?
Plastic bottles are made of petroleum and natural gas derivatives. These are wasted by dumping them in landfills or incineration. Recycling safeguards energy and resources. Producing plastic bottles from recycled substances calls for less energy than refining new plastic resins from raw material. The carbon-footprint involved with producing new bottles from old is less than producing new bottles from virgin material.
PET bottles have a lifespan of 450 years. “Each year, about 2 million tons of PET bottles end up in landfills in the United States.”PET or polyethylene-terephthalate is the substance from which plastic bottles are made and thence manufactured into new bottles.
Unfortunately, recycling of plastic bottles is a form of plastic bottle pollution in itself. The very transportation of plastic bottles for recycling results in transportation-related carbon-emissions. For example of the fourteen-percent of PET bottles that are recycled in America, 38 percent of those are sent elsewhere around the globe for recycling thereby incurring a contribution to the carbon footprint.
Bottle Pollution at sea
We’ve looked at the water bottle pollution on land but what about the ocean? Most plastic bottles end up in the sea. Have you ever heard of The Great Pacific Garbage Patch? It’s the worlds’ biggest ‘landfill’ found in the North Pacific Ocean. It’s the great afterlife of the plastic bottle, among other plastics debris.
It has been referred to as Trash Island but Marine Biologist dismiss this as an unhelpful description. The plastic bottles are less like an island than a galaxy. If it was all in one place: ” We could just go out there and scoop up an island,” says Marine Biologist Holly Bamford. She and her colleagues have discovered that much of the plastic bottle pollution is below the surface of the ocean. Researchers performed an exercise whereby seven-hundred pieces of plastic, the bulk of which were bottles, were picked up from one square kilometre of sea.
Plastic Bottles Polluting Our Health
When a person drinks from a plastic bottle they ingest chemicals that have seeped into its contents. Many toxic chemicals go into the manufacturing of bottles and as a by-product of the process. This is especially ironic in the case of bottled water. The world’s utilization of bottled water more than doubles every ten years, ensuring its position as the world’s fastest rising commercial beverage. Plastic bottle pollution from bottled water, in particular, is a growing problem
Bisphenol-A is one such chemical mentioned above. It leeches into the contents of the plastic bottle. (Better known as BPA.) BPA imitates hormones in our bodies and is implicated in a variety of health complaints. For example breast and prostate cancer. Bottled water and other products are safer and more environmentally friendly when bottled in glass not plastic. However, the costs of glass can be prohibitive, or at least non-competitive with plastic.
“Bottled water may be an industry winner, but it’s an environmental loser,” says Ling Li; Worldwatch
 Holly Bamford, former director of the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Marine Debris Program.
Posted on February 2, 2018, in Green, Uncategorized, Webarticles and tagged Bottle Pollution at sea, old bottles in landfills, Plastic bottle pollution, Plastic bottles and fossil-fuels, Plastic Bottles Polluting Our Health. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.