How Do Plastics Affect The Environment

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Plastics are a material currently being used all around the world. As the production of this synthetic polymer has increased, it has become almost impossible to completely avoid interaction with a plastic material. With the discovery of this practical material, positives and negatives were discovered too. Plastics have a strong effect on the environment and human health. During manufacturing, additives are put in that can be harmful to each of these important aspects. Due to their synthetic nature, plastics are also unable to biodegrade under typical anaerobic conditions of landfills (Stephen Lower, 2009), which is a large problem for the environment. The evolution of recycling has reduced this negative effect, but even recycling has negative …show more content…
Plastics are synthetic polymers that do not biodegrade. This means that when put into landfill, where most materials such as food would be eaten away by bacteria, plastics are not. This poses an enormous environmental threat if they are not disposed of properly. When littered, plastics can end up in ecosystems and the ocean. It is widely known that animals living in the ocean mistake plastics for food and consume them, often leading to death. Aquatic life can also be affected by leeching. Any decomposition of plastic that happens to occur will mix with rainwater, this forms leachates (Stephen Lower, 2009). Leachates of plastics can contain additives such as phthalates, which contaminate nearby water supplies such as streams and rivers. Plastics can only break down by photo degradation, which is light breaking the plastics down into smaller pieces (Harris, 2010). Most plastics, however, are recyclable which is good for the …show more content…
For example, manufactures add additives to their plastics and the additives in the plastics can be contaminated themselves. Once sorted by resin code and melted down with other plastics, the entire batch would need to be scrapped if a contaminant was present (Johnson, 2015). Not all plastics are recycled and some does go to landfill, but interestingly in Australia during 2010 the amount of plastics going to landfill was considerably lower than what was actually recycled. Australia uses 376,000 tonnes of plastic packaging each year and in 2010, it was recorded that 288,194 of this was recycled (Suez Environment, Sita Australia,

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