Plastic the Greek word
Plastic is a term derived form the Greek word “plastikos” which means fit for molding (Life Without Plastic, 2010). In addition, plastic material is made in such a way that it is can be extruded, spun, cast or even applied as coating. Scientifically, plastics are described as materials that are created by linking compounds together into polymers, through a process known as polymerization which employs monomers as the main raw materials. These monomers are derived either from petroleum, coal or natural gas.
Due to the inability of most polymers to have qualities that allow them to have practical value, most of them have chemicals added on their components in order to produce desirable properties in them. Plasticizers are a good example of plastic additives which are softening agents that help to improve the flexibility of polymers. Polyvinyl which is universally used contains 55% of plasticizing additives (Life Without Plastic, 2010). Such chemicals that account for more than half of the plastic compounds disrupt the endocrine system (ecology center, 2010) and are linked to health problems like cancer.
Consequently, this has led to the ban of such plastics in Europe and the US in the manufacture of sensitive commodities such as toys (Life Without Plastic 2010). Moreover, these additives are major contributing factors to negative heath issues and environmental problems that lead to detrimental health owing to waste management practices. On the other hand plastics are very benefits to humans because of their affordable nature and wide variety of use. 2. 0 Problems Caused by Plastics Plastics have revolutionalized human life and are used globally on a massive scale (Thompson et al.
, 2009). The diversity in the use of plastics has made it effective in the production of bags that are used in the packaging of food(s) and drinks. Furthermore, many people have different plastic products in their homes, places of work as well as social arenas. There are several uses in which plastics are put to which in turn brings about some of the negative effects of the same. For instance, plastics are used in the making of eyeglasses, clothing, toothbrushes, phones, computers and utensils.
This shows how dependent human beings have become towards plastic (Life Without Plastic 2010, para. 1). On the same note, the affordability, ready availability and the practical unbreakable property of plastics results in their employment in the manufacture of several items. However, the wide spread use of plastics in the storage of food, cooking and drinking does not only cause extraordinary environmental problems but also notable health risks to human beings, more so, children.
As a result, plastics should be used cautiously and only in instances where there are no appropriate alternatives to be utilized. Recycling efforts have been encouraged in an effort to advocate for proper waste management especially that of plastics this is because plastics are known to deter the free flow of garbage in landfills thus making waste management difficult (Mindfully. org 2010). In addition, the tossing away plastic material only leads to them lying dormant in landfills for ages further making it difficult to control dumping.
According to the international Plastic Task Force, the diversity of plastic manufacture and use has led to a correlated increase in toxic pollution which is reflected on both human life and the environment (2010) which is a further reason that make it necessary for the use of plastics to be minimized. The same organization claims that as much as there are increased negative effects of plastic use, very little effort is being made to address the issue in terms of the harmful consequences of using resin as a consequence the problem is spread on a global scale.
The non- biodegradable toxic nature of most plastics has created the need for International Corporation in combating the accumulation of plastic waste. Stevens suggests the use of more recent technology for producing biodegradable plastics that are made form renewable components could bring and end to the problem (2002). Considering the harmful effects of the wide spread use of plastics, the manufactures should adopt production practices that lead to the making of decomposable plastics and this would ensure that the problem is handled. 3. 0 Current Methods of Plastic Waste Disposal in the World and their Effects
Poor management of natural resources, excessive waste release to the environment and their resulting effects can pose great danger to sustainable development. It is therefore necessary to consider the effects that negative practices of disposal by human beings cause to both the environment and health of people living in that setting (Clean Up the World 2010). According to ‘Clean Up the World’, the current methods of waste disposal such as landfill (burying solid waste in the ground) and incineration (burning solid waste) can lead to the release of greenhouse gases and other toxic chemicals into the air, waterways as well as soil(2010).
Most plastic wastes are dangerous because of the alarming problems they cause due to their non biodegradable nature. The danger of plastics is equally bent on the fact that they are bulky thus they at times resist incineration. Furthermore, burning of plastics is not advisable because of the possible emission of toxic fumes. An inadequate recycling level of plastic material has equally heightened the problem of waste disposal despite the fact that statistics from Idea Connection put it that the probability of plastic production would still reach an annual height of 60 million metric tons within a period of ten years (Idea Connection, 2010).
Plastic bags are among the most used consumer items on Earth (World watch, 2010) and as per Idea Connection, in Somalia, which is a third world country, nylon bags discarded by purchasers of Qat (a leafy narcotic like substance that is chewed) accounts for the severe problems that the native vegetation in this nation encounter. Here plastic bags are carelessly thrown posing a great danger because the bags get wrapped up in the branches and roots of vegetation leading to inadequate supply of air, sunlight as well as water to the vegetation that is vital for the sustainability of the plants (2010).
It is worth noting that companies like Pepsi and Coca Cola which have control over major beverage markets in countries like India, have neglected efforts to ensure that plastic bottles are properly disposed or recycled. Looking at these companies keenly, they prefer to have glass bottles reused in packaging but the same perception is not given to plastic containers.
This is for the reason that Pepsi and Coca Cola import cheap subsidized plastics from Europe and the United States thus resulting in plastics bottles being scattered all over India destroying the heritage areas of the country, killing cows and blocking water drainage (Idea Connection 2010). In a publication named Plastic Litter and Waste Reduction Campaign by “Californians against Waste”, it is documented that a lot of damage has been caused as a result of poor disposal of plastics in California.
Further studies reveal that plastic litter continues to pollute the Pacific Ocean threatening aquatic life. The same publication alleges that the amount of plastic content weight in Ocean is 46 (2010) times more than that of planktons causing the ocean to be permanently polluted putting in mind the fact that plastics are not biodegradable . Due to these reasons, the organization is campaigning for the ban of the highly littering plastic items such as plastic bags and polystyrene food package.
Likewise, the Californians are advocating for the recycling of packaging items in accordance to the Bottle Bill model in the state, which requires that all bottling material be recycled. 4. 0 A Case Study of Littering Practices in Ghana According to Fobil and Hogarh of the University of Ghana, the intense tropical heat in sub-Saharan Africa make it necessary for people living in this part of the world to constantly take water in huge quantities. Most of these people spend a lot of time walking to their destinations during work hours and also in the market places.
Due to this, it is a common phenomenon to find young people selling iced water in trays, basins or on their heads as they look for customers in public places, streets, towns and cities. Furthermore, vendors sell cooked food on waysides, canteens and restaurants that are usually located in open spaces near places of work, churches, offices as well as schools (Fobil and Hogarh, n. d. ). Most of the customers who buy the foodstuffs are usually passers by who take the food away wrapped in plastic bags, leaves and brown paper.
The packaging material ends up being dumped carelessly at the convenience of the customers. This practice is facilitated by the lack of a mechanism to ensure proper disposal of plastic bags after the consumption of the items bought. As a consequence, the rise of indiscriminate dumping is almost uncontrollable in the area as well as in most of the sub-Saharan African countries. This phenomenon is blamed on the lack of detailed knowledge on waste management in these countries which include South Africa, Lesotho, Zambia, Zimbabwe, parts of West and East Africa.
While paper can gradually decompose, plastic material remains intact. This practice has caused scattered plastic litter to accumulate posing a great danger to the environment. Further research by the same authors reveals that, in the past two decades the use of plastic materials in the wrapping of food items and water has risen significantly. The use of this material in commercial packaging industries has largely contributed to the rapid increase in the percentage of plastic items in the waste streams in Ghana (Fobil and Hogarh, n.
d. ). Most countries in the sub-Saharan region of Africa have been recognized by individual waste management authorities to be gradually registering a growing prominence in plastic waste amounts. This is also associated with the lack of sufficient studies being conducted on the issue of plastic waste management to aid curb the growth of plastic waste in the area. As a result the locals do not have adequate knowledge of the exact amounts of waste and the possible danger of the growing amounts of plastics being dumped.Sample Essay of Paperial.com