Issues

The Issues We Care About

Plastic Pollution

PLASTIC IS HAVING A PROFOUND EFFECT ON OUR ENVIRONMENT.

  • By 2050, oceans will carry more plastic mass than fish and an estimated 99% of seabirds will have ingested plastic. 1
  • Plastic waste kills up to 1 million sea birds, 100,000 sea mammals, marine turtles and countless fish each year. 2
  • 80 per cent of all pollution in seas and oceans comes from land-based activities. 3
  • Half of all plastics ever manufactured have been made in the last 15 years.
  • Nearly 700 species, including endangered ones, are known to have been affected by plastics. Nearly every species of seabird eats plastics.
  • There are 5 massive patches of plastic in the oceans around the world. These huge concentrations of plastic debris cover large swaths of the ocean; the one between California and Hawaii is the size of the state of Texas.
  • A garbage truck’s worth of plastic is dumped into the ocean every minute. If current trends continue, 12 billion metric tons of plastic waste will exist in the world by 2050.
  • According to a recent study, scientists concluded that corals that come into contact with plastic have an 89% chance of contracting disease, compared with a 4% likelihood for corals that do not. 4

Global Plastic Production

  • Global plastic production has quadrupled over the past four decades.
  • We are producing over 300 million tons of plastic every year, 50% of which is single-use plastics.
  • Plastic takes more than 400 years to decompose.
  • Plastic Industry will produce 881 billion pounds of plastic, 40% of this is thrown away in 20 minutes. That’s throw way living.
  • Plastic production has increased from 2 million metric tons in 1950 to 380 million metric tons in 2015.
  • The American Chemistry Council says the U.S. industry plans to spend $47 billion on new plastics-production capacity over the next decade. Currently about 42% of plastic is designed for packaging, which is especially troubling because most plastic packaging is designed for single-use.

Microplastics

  • A microplastic particle is any piece of plastic smaller than five millimeters, but many are much smaller and only visible under a microscope.
  • Microplastics come in the form of fragments, pellets, beads, fibers, and film. It can be made up of from a number of different materials with hundreds of different chemical additives.
  • An average person consumes 70,000 microplastics each year, according to a report published in Environmental Pollution.
  • Microplastics have been found in 93% of bottled water tested in global study conducted by Orb Media.
  • A 2018 study published in the journal Environmental Pollution concluded that people were more likely to ingest plastic through dust in their environment than by eating shellfish. 5
  • Microplastics have been found in 90% of table salt, according to a study published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology. An average adult consumes approximately 2,000 microplastics per year through salt. 6, 7

Single-use Plastics

  • Americans use 200 billion plastic bags a year which require 12 million barrels of oil to manufacture.
  • Plastic bags are used for an average of 12 minutes but takes up to 1,000 years to degrade in a landfill.
  • The average American family takes home almost 1,500 plastic shopping bags a year, according to Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc.
  • According to Waste Management, only 1 % of plastic shopping bags returned for recycling. That means an average family only recycles 15 bags a year, the rest ends up in landfills.

Plastic Waste and Greenhouse Emission

  • In 2019, the production and incineration of plastic will add more than 850 million metric tons of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere—equal to the emissions from 189 five-hundred-megawatt coal power plants.
  • US emissions from plastic incineration in 2015 are estimated at 5.9 million metric tons of CO2e.
  • Emissions from plastics production and incineration could account to 56 gigatons of carbon between now and 2050. That's 56 billion tons, or almost 50 times the annual emissions of all of the coal power plants in the U.S.

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Human Health & Plastics

Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals:

  • Endocrine Disruptor Chemicals are a class of chemicals found in the environment, food sources, personal care products and manufactured products that interfere with the normal function of the body’s endocrine system.
  • Chemical endocrine disruptors include plastic additives such as BPA, phthalates and perchlorate.
  • Health effects from endocrine disrupting chemicals cost the US $340 billion annually.
  • Microplastics entering the human body via direct exposures through ingestion or inhalation can lead to an array of health impacts, including inflammation, genotoxicity, oxidative stress, apoptosis, and necrosis, which are linked to an array of negative health outcomes including cancer, cardiovascular diseases, inflammatory bowel disease, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, chronic inflammation, autoimmune conditions, neurodegenerative diseases, and stroke.

EPS facts:

  • Polystyrene and expanded polystyrene foam (EPS) better known as Styrofoam are plastics made from styrene and benzene, two petroleum based, non-sustainable and heavily polluting resource.
  • Research study shows that styrene can leach out from EPS.8
  • Styrene is recognized as a known animal carcinogen and can enter the human body through inhalation, ingestion or through dermal contact.
  • Styrene has been detected in the leachate of landfills.
  • Styrene has been found in 100% of human tissue samples and 100% of human nursing milk samples tested.
  • Long-term exposure to styrene has been shown to cause depression, headache, fatigue, weakness and minor effects on kidney function. (Safety and Health Topics: Styrene, 2016)
  • Styrofoam does not bio degrade, some experts claim that Styrofoam can take over 500 years to break down.9

Phthalates:

  • Phthalates are endocrine disruptors and androgen blocking chemicals. This means what when absorbed into the body phthalates can either mimic or block female hormones, suppress the hormones involved in male sexual development.
  • Phthalates are frequently added to PVC products to soften plastics.
  • Phthalates can be released from a product by leaching, agitation and prolonged storage.
  • Hazard identification in humans include early onset of puberty, obesity, endocrine system disruption, lower sperm count in adult males and genital defects.

Bisphenol-A facts:

  • Bisphenol-A is a plastic additive used in can linings and plastic bottles.
  • 93% of Americans have BPA in their bodies, according to the study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control.
  • Bisphenol-A substitutes such as BPS and BPF have been linked to obesity in children and teens.
  • Researchers have found a correlation between BPS concentrations in urine and being overweight in childhood.
  • BPA poses serious health risks especially to children and developing fetuses.
  • Exposure to BPA has been linked to obesity, diabetes and fertility problems.
  • In 2012, the US FDA banned the use of BPA in baby bottles intended for children under 12 months.
  • University of Missouri-Columbia finds that low exposure to BPA may harm prostrate.

Autoimmune Diseases:

  • Autoimmune diseases affect 5-10% of the world’s population.
  • 50 million Americans (20%) suffer one or more autoimmune conditions.
  • Number of new Type-1 cases is doubling every 20 years.
  • Rise in Type-1 diabetes is coincidental with chemical production in the US.
  • 27% of children with Type-1 diabetes live in Europe and North America.
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