• Mel

Our Plastic Problem

Updated: Apr 25

It always amazes me how convenient plastic is; how plastic is so integrated into our daily lives that you actually have to make an effort to avoid using it. Whether it be plastic straws in your coffee or plastic packaging in grocery stores, it’s just too easy to forget plastic’s devastating effect on the environment when you’re addicted to its convenience.

A recent study has found that some marine microbes are eating plastic floating around in the ocean, helping it to break down. Scientists have hopes that these microscopic bacteria may, one day, save our Earth from its endless plastic pollution. But our Earth can’t wait around for the research to finish developing! Policies need to be put in place to curb our rapidly increasing consumption of plastic.

Macroplastic degrades into microplastics.

Whilst recycling strategies may seem like a cure-all, in reality only 9% of plastic has ever been recycled, a stark contrast to the inordinate 79% that is sitting in landfill. No matter how handy plastic is, the fact remains that we consume plastic at a faster rate than it leaves our environment. Around 8.3 billion tonnes of plastic has been produced since the early 1950s, yet plastic takes anywhere between 20 years to 500 years to decompose. That takeaway box you ate from one night? That plastic bottle you bought at the gym? Still sitting in landfill, with all the time in the world (hundreds of years, to be exact) to become best friends with the other plastic waste, all the while releasing methane into the atmosphere.

Plastic, and other waste, sitting in landfill.

On a better note, governments are beginning to put together plans to reduce plastic pollution. In November last year, the NSW government passed the Plastic Reduction and Circular Economy Act which instigated a ban on single use plastics starting from June 2022. Responsible companies like LEGO are phasing out single-use plastics from their products by using paper packaging replacements. Major food distributors such as Coles, Woolworths and Aldi have committed to making their plastic packaging reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025 as part of the ANZPAC Plastics Pact.

Us as consumers should be doing our part too! Container deposit schemes, more commonly known as Return and Earn, give consumers money back in exchange for recycling eligible drink containers. Using the 5 R’s as your life formula; Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Repurpose, and finally, Recycle, can also make a difference. Small conscious choices made by the majority will culminate towards a large impact. Plastic pollution isn’t impossible to remedy, but we all need to give a big push in order for major changes to come about - or our plastic problem will become unsolvable real quick.

Return and Earn machines are positioned around NSW.

Hey everyone! Here’s my first blog post in a long time. This time, I’m signing off as Mel instead of Kat. Hope you enjoyed!

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