Plastic 's Wide Popularity Stems Essay

985 Words Jun 29th, 2015 4 Pages
Throughout the world, millions of tons of plastic are produced annually and used in countless ways, from packaging to exfoliants in cosmetics (REF). Plastic’s wide popularity stems from its desirable properties, such as being aesthetically pleasing and cost effective. Much of the plastic on the market consists of disposable, one-time-use items. Discarded plastic then accumulates in the environment; so far many studies have shown that plastic accumulates in marine ecosystems (Capenter et al., 1972, Thompson et al., 2004, Browne et al., 2011, Derraik, 2006) and freshwater systems (Eriksen et al., 2013, Free et al., 2014, Corcoran, 2008). Typically, classification of plastic debris occurs in two ways 1) primary or debris in manufactured form (i.e. microbeads used as exfoliants in cosmetic products, bottle caps, and cigarette filters) or 2) secondary, plastic derived from primary debris, (i.e. degradation products produced by photodegradation and abrasion) (Driedger et al., 2015).
Plastic is renowned for its durability, although the downside to the durability is its persistence in the environment for centuries. Microplastic, defined by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) as particles <5mm in size (REF), poses an added threat to the environment. It has been shown that microplastic will adsorb persistent organic pollutants (POPs) where levels become highly concentrated due to large surface area (Rios et al., 2010, other citations). Potential…

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