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NewsThe world is mobilizing against plastic pollution. What is its danger for the environment?

The world is mobilizing against plastic pollution. What is its danger for the environment?

The United Nations has called for more efforts to end the catastrophe of this dangerous type of environmental pollution, whose negative and devastating effects on the environment span centuries.

“The way the world produces, consumes and disposes of plastic has created a catastrophe,” said Inger Andersen, executive director of the United Nations Environment Programme.

Catastrophic figures

According to the United Nations, the annual production of plastic has more than doubled in the last 20 years, to exceed 430 million tonnes annually, and this figure could be multiplied by 3 by 2060 if the situation is not corrected. A draft international treaty to combat plastic pollution should be drafted by next November, with a view to reaching a final text at the end of 2024, according to a decision adopted by 175 countries in Paris a few days ago. According to the United Nations, two-thirds of the plastics produced each year are short-lived products that quickly turn into waste, and less than 10% of plastic waste is recycled.

Danger out of control

Environmental experts warn that the plastic problem has spiraled out of control and microplastic particles are present in our soil, water and the air we breathe.

The source of the danger is that plastic contains chemicals that take hundreds of years to break down.

It is estimated that 19 to 23 million tonnes of plastic end up in lakes, rivers and seas every year.

What is plastic pollution?

International academic and environmental expert Ayman Haitham Qaddouri says in an interview with Sky News Arabia:

Plastic pollution, which was the focus of World Environment Day this year, is one of the most dangerous forms of environmental pollution, especially in the marine environment, where the bottoms of the oceans and seas suffer from the accumulation of millions of tons of plastic waste that destroy this environment and deplete marine organisms affecting their activity, discouraging them from the process of producing oxygen in the atmosphere, knowing that the marine environment is the first source of oxygen on the surface of the planet.

– According to United Nations estimates, around 15 million tonnes of plastic are dumped on the ocean floor each year, with a total of 200 million tonnes on the ocean floor alone. contributes to 60% of the total elimination of this plastic waste.

This huge amount of plastics and waste is characterized by a complex chemical composition called a polymer, which slowly breaks down and takes 50 to 600 years to decompose depending on the thickness of the plastic and the method of its chemical arrangement.

– The presence of plastic waste on the ocean floor hinders the movement and activities of marine organisms, and many of them perish by eating parts of plastic waste, which causes the digestive tract to be blocked and thus leads to their death , and the most important creatures of the seas and oceans vulnerable to this damage are turtles and whales.

– For marine plants, plastic pollution destroys the ability of these plants to continue the process of photosynthesis, by blocking sunlight or wrapping parts of thin plastic waste, such as plastic bags and string around the body of the plant.

– Coral reefs are considered the first target at risk of plastic pollution, because they are very sensitive organisms that are affected by any abnormal variable in their environment, and preserving them means preserving the sustainability of the biodiversity of the seabed and oceans in general, because of the nutritional value they carry and being a link at the beginning of the food chain, the simple act of blocking sunlight exposes it to destruction, and that is the simplest example of what can result from polluting the ocean floor with plastic waste.

– The danger does not stop at the accumulation of this waste. When plastic materials decompose after a long period that can extend over centuries, polluting chemical and organic substances are produced, including methane gas, since fossil fuels are the raw material for 95% of the plastic produced.

What is caused by plastic pollution on the bottom of oceans and seas accounts for a quarter of its impact on earth, where the most popular way to get rid of the buildup of plastic waste is to burn it, which in itself exacerbates the global warming crisis.

Disposal of plastic waste causes 15 million tons of carbon pollution in the atmosphere, in addition to large proportions of methane, ethylene, polyethylene and others, in the atmosphere, which together contribute to a increasing rates of greenhouse gases that cause global warming by 15 percent.

Leaving plastic waste exposed to sun and heat without treatment or recycling produces harmful gases, especially from fine plastic waste such as shopping bags.

ways to avoid danger

Defining and restricting plastic industries and committing to recycling them, then phasing out the complex polymers that make up plastic material and replacing them with safer and more environmentally friendly materials, are the most important solutions that the industry group of seven must approve and proceed with their implementation, according to Kadouri, who explains that “such measures can lead to encouraging results that help to continue the fight against plastic pollution beyond 2040”.

Kadouri explains: “Setting 2040 as the date to achieve zero plastic pollution is a legitimate ambition, of the Big Seven, but it is far from being achieved, according to current data and the escalation of conflicts and unleashed economic interests.

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Arab Desk
Arab Desk
The Eastern Herald’s Arab Desk validates the stories published under this byline. That includes editorials, news stories, letters to the editor, and multimedia features on easternherald.com.

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