Plastic Pollution Threatening Humans and Wildlife

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( — July 9, 2017) –Every minute, millions of plastic bottles are sold across the globe, with the number expected to go up 20 percent by 2021 and cause an ecological crisis. Many experts predict that it will rival the threat of climate change.

Such demand for plastic bottles is the result of a great thirst for bottled water, as well as the expansion of the western culture in China and other countries of the Asia-Pacific region.

According to current sales growth trends, the number of sold plastic bottles will hit 583 billion per year by 2021.

Most plastic bottles for water and carbonated beverages are made from Polyethylene Terephthalate, commonly abbreviated PET or PETE. It is thermoplastic polymer resin of the polyester family and is used in fibers for clothing, containers for liquids and foods, thermoforming for manufacturing, and in combination with glass fiber for engineering resins.

PET can be perfectly recycled, but collecting and recycling bottles does not match the growing production and consumption.

Less than half of the bottles purchased in 2016 were collected for recycling, with only seven percent turned into new products, while the largest portion ended up in waste or in the ocean.

Between five and thirteen million tons of plastic annuallly ends up in the ocean and swallowed by sea birds, fish and other organisms.

By 2050, the ocean will have more plastic than fish, according to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation study.

Experts warn that PET has already found its way to the human food chain.

Scientists at the University of Ghana have recently calculated that people who eat seafood swallow 11,000 small pieces of plastic on an annual basis.

According to the last year’s analysis of the Plymouth University in England, plastic was found in a third fish caught in the UK, including cod, haddock, mackerel and shellfish, the Guardian has reported.