Lets firstly start this off by saying us Australians are blessed with our place of birth, depending on where you are on the spectrum there are many different amazing places to get your breath of fresh air whilst also being emerged in the great outdoors, like where else do you get that?
The question is what is Australia doing about plastic pollution and plastic pollution in the ocean?
We need to break down some ocean pollution facts down so we can understand the epidemic we may be in! Plastic wasn’t invented until the late 19th century and didn’t take off until the 1950s. Scientists have done the numbers, we have 9.2 billion, yes billion with a B of plastic around the globe, 6.9 billion of that plastic is waste and only .3 billion made it to the recycling bin. Plastic takes 450 years to biodegrade, which means that all the plastic that has ever been made is still with us today! Plastic pollution than breaks down, turns into microplastics, breaking down into snowflake sizes of less than 5 millimeters in diameter. Every year, 8 million tonnes of plastic pollution enters our ocean, according to a study done in 2016 published by World Economic Forum.
These are some scary facts about plastic pollution and makes you think twice about your plastic use. Whilst the human race is contributing to a mass epidemic of the consumption of the use of plastic, our marine life is paying for it with there lives. Killing millions of marine animals each year whilst around 700 species, including the endangered, are know to be affected. You have seen those horrific photos of the classic plastic 6 six rings wrapped around birds or turtles necks. The same goes for fishing lines that have been disposed into the ocean tangling up many creatures, great and small. Many more are most likely harmed without the human eye being able to specify the impact of microplastics having on the marines life ecosystem being consumed by plankton and also whales. Many people have claimed to walked on large pristine beaches, ankle-deep in microplastics crunching under there feet like rice crispy.
Microplastics have been found high and low within the deep blue, found on the deep sea bed floor or in ice in the Arctic - which will then melt and leave the microplastics floating, waiting to be digested by the marine life that calls the ocean home.
Single-use plastics are anything from plastic packaging, plastic bags for your day to day shopping which is a massive threat to these creatures. Single use, plastic bags spread there time floating around the ocean and can even look like a jellyfish to sea turtles thinking it is food, swallow it. More than a third of the world’s sea turtles have been found with plastic waste in their stomachs. When plastics ( so-called biodegradable plastic bags ) do eventually break down, they simply break into smaller pieces ( you guessed it, microplastics ) This makes it easier for turtles, sea birds and fish mistaking the ocean plastic as food. Single-use plastic packaging is contributing to waste and ocean plastic pollution around Australia
The majority of plastic flows into the ocean through rivers, hence most plastic is not dumped in the ocean intentionally. Plastic is light and easily moved by the elements which end up being washed down drains by rainwater or blown by winds into larger bodies of water which all lends to the ocean.
The difficulty of plastic being cleaned from the open ocean is severe due to the vast amount of plastic waste. The 5 trillion pieces of trash that are currently floating around like a sailor on a shipped have no way of being cleaned up as no design has come forward that can filter out plastic out of the volume of the ocean, notably microplastics. To make matters worse not all plastic is floating on the surface of the sea, as mention before it has been found one the deep sea bed and also in ice capsules in the Arctic. They are finding plastic in every place they are looking for.
We need to become aware of the dangers of single use plastic. Single use plastic can be that water bottle you use once, that takeaway container that enters the bin straight after use, plastic lids on takeaway coffee cups and plastic straws from your favorite food outlet. Yeah, plastic does make our life easier though at what cost? We are trashing our world with plastic and Australia too. Plastic packaging for those ready meals is also single-use plastics as you are only using it once.
So what is Australia doing about there impact? Well according to National Retail Association a total of 1.5 billion single-use plastic bags and been eliminated since the major supermarkets implemented their self - imposed bans in July 2018. Since this has been placed among us fellow Australians, overall bag consumption has been reduced by over 80%. According to statics, most shoppers are taking their bags to cut costs whilst also making a positive impact on a brighter future. Well done to us fellow Aussies for reducing our plastic, less rubbish on the beach in Australia.
Our current prime minister has vowed to do more whilst tackling the pollution problem we currently face. Last year it cost the Australian taxpayer 2.6bn to export more than 4.5 million tonnes of waste to other countries, most going to Vietnam, China, and Indonesia. What a waste that is ( no pun intended ), costing the taxpayer a substantial amount of dollars just to ship our waste to another part of the world. Wouldn’t these funds be a lot better invested in recycling systems or to start thinking outside the box on how we as AUSTRALIANS can tackle the large problem of over pollution! You don't need a plastic bag for each fruit and veg that enters your shopping cart, remember that as this can cut more plastic out of the everyday shop.
How much plastic does Australia use each year?
660 thousand tonnes are created by Australia every year, this averages out to 130kg per person. Only 12% of that is recycled which is crazy to believe know the life of the plastic you are using is older than you. Plastic packaging is becoming apart of our food chain and chances are you're consuming it indirectly, microplastics as mention before are a massive threat and just because the human eye cant see it doesn't mean it isn't a problem to Australia. Every year we are contributing towards this with everyday purchases on single-use plastic.
These are something to keep in mind whilst you are on your everyday commute, how can you cut down on your plastic consumption or even better make an impact on the current crisis we are in?
Feel free to share your tips on a more sustainable and less plastic future.