Should Plastic Be Banned Essay

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Why Should Plastic Be Banned Essay

It has become commonplace to walk into a grocery store, pick up produce wrapped in plastic, unwrap it at home, and throw away the plastic wrapping which is often labeled as non-recyclable. Consumers don’t usually think twice about the lasting impact of this routine activity, but in reality, our oceans and soil are in dire conditions: It is estimated that plastic represents 50-80% of shoreline debris, making one question how much it amounts to in our oceans (Thompson 2154). The impact of plastic has also reached places few humans have, with plastic reported atop some of the highest mountains. This poisons our ecosystems and in turn, those at the top of the food chain, us. Therefore, in this essay, I argue that plastic should be banned. 

It is estimated that around 260 species, from invertebrates to seabirds and mammals, have ingested or become entangled in plastic debris, impairing their movement, feeding, and reproduction, and causing lacerations or ulcers, ultimately leading to their death (Gregory 2014). An area of particular concern is the increasing prevalence of micro-plastics, defined as pieces less than five millimeters, which may not strangle wildlife, but are particularly dangerous and may cause neurotoxicity and cancer in humans (Rahman 1). This is proposed to occur through increased inflammation and oxidative stress when plastics enter the body through ingestion, inhalation, or even dermal contact, but more research is needed to better elucidate etiology (Rahman 1).

Despite the tremendous damage our ecosystem has incurred as a result of plastics, one may argue that there is no need to get rid of them altogether. After all, recycling and waste management solutions are becoming increasingly innovative, and plastic may be viewed as a precious industrial material instead of a final waste product. The strategy to reduce, reuse, and recycle plastic has been widely advocated and may be a viable way to manage our plastic waste. Reusing plastic has been taken up by multiple developed countries, where consumers are advised to get their own reusable bags to the grocery store or pay a small fee if they wish to buy more bags. This strategy has been shown to decrease the waste generated from single use plastic bags. On the other hand, in developing countries, people are known to recycle their grocery bags as rubbish bin bags, also utilizing the reuse strategy. When reusing plastic products is not feasible, plastics may be incinerated to recover some of their energy content. However, this does not reduce the demand for raw materials used in plastic manufacturing and is thus less energy-efficient than recycling (Thompson 2160).

Despite innovative solutions being in the works, and some already being utilized, substantial amounts of plastic are disposed of in landfills, and in many locations, landfill space is running out. Furthermore, plastics have a very long decay time, disqualifying landfill storage as a viable solution even if sufficient space were present. Although plastics are lightweight and inexpensive, we may replace them completely by developing degradable polymers with functionality comparable to conventional plastics (Thompson 2162). These polymers may be mass-produced, but are considerably more expensive than conventional plastics, and so governmental bodies have been reluctant to adopt them. However, since these materials are more eco-friendly, and research into cheaper methods of production is ongoing, plastics may one day become replaceable, and there is no sense in using something harmful to our environment when healthier alternatives exist. 

  1. Works Cited

Gregory, M. R. 2009 Environmental implications of plastic debris in marine settings- entanglement, ingestion, smothering, hangers-on, hitch-hiking, and alien invasions. Phil. Trans. R. Soc. B 364, 2013-2015. (doi:10.1098/rstb.2008.0265)

Rahman, Arifur et al. Potential human health risks due to environmental exposure to nano- and micro-plastics and knowledge gaps: A scoping review. The science of the total environment vol. 757 (2021): 143872. (doi:10.1016/j.scitotenv.2020.143872)

Thompson, Richard C et al. “Plastics, the environment and human health: current consensus and future trends.” Philosophical transactions of the royal society of London. Series B, Biological sciences vol. 364,1526 (2009): 2153-66. (doi:10.1098/rstb.2009.0053)

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