Guest Column | July 10, 2018

8 Steps To Solve The Ocean's Plastic Problem

By Erich Lawson

Do you know that people throw away about around 4 million tons of rubbish on a daily basis, of which 12.8 percent is plastic?

The plastic is then disposed of into landfills, which contaminate the groundwater and soil with harmful chemicals and microorganisms, but the effects of marine pollution due to plastic are unimaginable. The effects on the ocean are similar to that on land and are starting to be felt. A study discovered that about 12.7 million tons of plastic waste is disposed of into the ocean annually. The United Nations Environment Programme states that there could be a possible 51 trillion microplastic particles in the ocean. A certain part of the plastic waste comes from land due to mismanaged waste disposal, but gas platforms and offshore oil rigs also contribute to it.

Amongst all the possible threats to marine life and the oceans, plastic poses the biggest threat to the ocean and her inhabitants.

Here are eight steps you can take to solve the ocean’s plastic problem with the positive effect of recycling on the environmental and economic front:

  1. Reduce Your Dependence On Plastic and Recycle the Ocean Plastic

Do you realize the amount of single-use plastic items such as plastic cutlery, plastic plates, water bottles, plastic cups, packaging, plastic bags, and straws? Our dependency on these single-use plastic items has to end if we want to experience the positive impact of recycling on the environmental and economic front. A lot of countries have already imposed a ban on disposable plastic bags and items or have passed laws that abolish the production, use, and wastage of plastic. These efforts must be followed on a global scale as the consumption tends to go down; and you can do your own bit by installing an industrial plastic shredder to shred up your own waste plastic — or better yet, refusing to use these items altogether.

  1. Develop Alternatives to Non-Degradable Plastics

Industries responsible for generating the majority of plastic waste need to be compelled to develop alternatives by certain industry agreements and producer liability arrangements, taxing non-recyclable plastic production with requirements for handling the collection and reuse of broken and waste plastic equipment.

  1. Impose Heavy Fees and Taxes on Using and Polluting Plastics

The majority of plastics produced today are made from oil and are a major source of pollution and climate emission. A great example of this can be seen in Norway, where only 0.5 percent of the plastic is renewable. Despite this, fossil-derived plastic is still much cheaper to produce and purchase than the renewable one. The governments of all countries need to start implementing a tax or fee on the production and use of polluting plastic in their respective countries. The fees must also be changed so that the recycled plastic becomes cheaper to manufacture and purchase than fossil fuel.

  1. Spread the Cause and Support Organizations Addressing Ocean Plastic Pollution

There are a lot of non-profit organizations out there who are trying to clear up ocean plastic pollution in many different ways. Great examples of such situations are the Plastic Soup foundations, 5 Gyres, and many others. But these organizations need support and funding from concerned people.

  1. Develop Proper Waste Management Infrastructure

Most plastic is generated by developing countries. Fast population growth and a surging middle class means that the use of plastic is much higher than the capacity to handle the plastic waste, which is why most of it ends up in the oceans. A great solution would be to establish a joint international aid program to better manage waste and recycling infrastructure such as implementing the use of industrial shredders.

  1. Increase Mapping and Surveillance to Stop the Flow of Plastic Waste into the Sea

There is still a lot that we don’t know about the plastic waste problem. Studies estimate that more than 70 percent of all plastic waste ends up on the ocean bed. It gradually tends to break up into particles over time, but it is impossible to say what happens to these particles or how to get rid of them. It is important that we increase our efforts to do research on the negative side effects of plastic waste on our environment, as well as taking pains to map and monitor the waste flow.

  1. Participate in a Beach or River Cleanup

Physically helping to remove plastic waste from a beach or the ocean or preventing it from reaching there in the first place by taking part in or organizing a cleanup of your local waterway or beach is one of the most direct and rewarding ways to fight ocean plastic pollution. Cleaning up your local beach is as easy as going to the beach and picking up the litter, literally! Or you can choose to join a waste cleanup organization to help the oceans and society.

  1. Boost Demand for Recycled Plastic and Business Come Up with Creative Ideas to Use Ocean Plastic

Countries should develop their own demand for recycled plastic and the best way to do that is by supporting manufacturers in developing technology that can use recycled plastic. Here are some products that are made out of recycled ocean plastic:

  • Clothing
  • Packaging
  • Currency
  • Eyewear
  • Beach Huts
  • Sneakers

I hope this article was useful to you in better understanding the positive effect of recycling on both the environmental and economic front.

Erich Lawson is very passionate about the environment and is an advocate of effective recycling. He writes on a wide array of topics to inform readers on how modern recycling equipment can be used by industries to reduce monthly wastage bills and increase recycling revenue. You can learn more about environment-saving techniques by visiting his blog on Northern California Compactors, Inc.