Plastic Waste in the Ocean

Plastic Waste in the OceanWhat is Plastic?
A plastic is a synthetic substance made of an organic polymer. The word “organic” means that the molecules making up the plastic contain carbon atoms. A “polymer” is a long chain of molecules joined up with together. Most plastics are made of petrochemicals.
Plastics generally consist of preservatives to increase them in some way. Examples of these additives consist of pigments, flame retardants, stabilizers, and plasticizers to enhance softness and overall flexibility and reinforce to make the plastic tougher.
Sources of Plastic Waste
• Storage containers
• Lunch bags and plastic food wrap
• Shopping bags
• Grocery bags
• Drink bottles • medication containers
• Utensils and cutlery
• Straws
• Pens
• Buttons
• toys
How Does Plastic Waste Enter the Ocean?
Plastic waste may be placed in the ocean straight or not directly. Some is deliberately dropped off ships or offshore systems or is blown or washed off. Some is tossed into the sea by people on land. The rest is blown off the land or washed off by moving water. Plastic deposited in land fills or gently dropped on the ground may gradually reach the ocean.
Plastic Pollution in the OceanPlastic Waste in the Ocean
A generally held thinking is that plastic doesn’t break down, aside from the new, biodegradable plastics. This isn’t true, however. Regular plastic does break down, but generally very slowly.
Ultraviolet light from the sun breaks some plastics down in as little as a year, while other plastics are believed to need hundreds of years to break down. The light breaks the bonds holding the “building blocks” of the polymer chain together.
Despite the fact that degradation of plastics sounds like a good thing, it may not be so wonderful. Research indicates that when plastics degrade, they don’t vanish but become small pieces of micro plastic.
Micro plastic fragments enter the bodies of animals. The results of micro plastics on living things aren’t known for certain, but their presence worries some researchers, particularly as their concentration is increasing. The term “plastic soup” is often used for a region in the ocean that is laden with micro plastic particles.
Another problem that develops from plastic material degradation is that as the plastics disintegrate they release additives. Some of these additives are known to be harmful to living things, including humans.
Plastic Waste in the OceanConsequences of Plastic on Marine Animals
n what may be an excessive example of plastic waste usage, in 2013 a dead sperm whale washed up on a Spanish beach with over 37 pounds of plastic debris in its stomach. The plastic been around in the form of 59 different items and involved thick plastic sheets, plastic bags, rope, hosepipe, two flower pots and a plastic spray canister. The animal is believed to have died from starvation.
The items in the whale’s stomach came from a huge greenhouse industry nearby. The greenhouses occupy almost 99,000 acres and can be seen in satellite views of Earth. Much of the plastic waste generated by the industry is treated in special centers, but a major amount escapes into the ocean.

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