Mass Plastic Production and Plastic Waste

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One individual creates four and a half pounds of waste each day compared to two and a half pounds per person from the 1960s. With this increased amount of waste, there are limited amounts of outlets for trash to be properly discarded. Most of this litter travels to oceans and endangers marine life and their habitats. The main types of debris that cause the most harm to oceanic organisms are plastics from varying sources such as landfills and human recreation, trap ropes used for fishing, and remnants from human recreation. Plastic is the most harmful form of debris to marine life because it has the tendency to break down into minute sizes similar to zooplankton, which is a major food source to some marine animals. Micro-plastic concentrates in the surface water of the ocean, where many zooplankton and additional food sources live. Organisms that come to the surface to feed on zooplankton instead consume astounding amounts of plastic. These plastics do not provide nutritional value as well as introduce potential dangers to the internal organs of the animal ingesting the waste such as perforating stomach linings, blocking digestive tracts, preventing normal feeding habits, diluting diets, and ingestion of chemicals from plastics (Schuyler, Hardesty, Wilcox, & Townsend 1). Marine pollution not only destroys the habitats of marine life, but also affects the species that inhabit the oceans by contaminating their food and endangering their health.
Mass plastic production began in the 1950s. Even though large amounts of plastic began being generated, the amount of waste was “estimate[d]… [to be] three to four orders of magnitude lower [than current societal statistics] and restricted to more degradable items” (Barnes 1988). The decades ...

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...rganized in many countries and on every continent” (Barnes 1985). Along with aid from non-profit organizations and volunteers, MARPOL Annex V “addresses solid waste [such as] domestic garbage, including galley waste and food packaging…old fishing gear… and cargo-related garbage” (Clean Ships 16) that is often discarded from ships.
Without the maintenance of oceans, the use of saltwater will be restricted or terminated, preventing a large amount of human activities such as fishing, scuba diving, snorkeling, and general enjoyment. The amount of micro-plastic and macro-plastic cannot be severely decreased in a short amount of time, but differences can be made over long periods of time. Recycling, removing litter, and preventing loss of non-biodegradable products can help lower the amount of plastic debris present in the surface water and different levels of the ocean.

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