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Plastics and the Environment

What impact do plastic bottles have on the environment?
  • On average we use 168 plastic water bottles each per year.

  • We spend on average $588.00 on water bottles each year

  • It takes 700 years before plastic bottles start to decompose, and can take up to 1000 years to fully decompose

  • Approximately 86% of plastic bottles aren’t recycled in USA, in NZ it’s 78%

  • Approximately 1500 bottles end up in land fills and the ocean…….every second

  • 60 million plastic water bottles are used each day in the US alone, 30 Million in Europe, more than 100 million world wide every day

  • It takes 3-5 litres of water to make 1 plastic bottle

  • Plastic bottles are a petroleum product and use 151 billion litres of oil to produce each year. That’s enough to run 500,000 cars per year.

  • The water industry uses a further 1.7 billion litres of oil in distributing the water bottles around the USA alone

  • 2,500,000 tons of a carbon dioxide was produced in the manufacturing of the plastic bottles each year

  • Up to 24% of bottled water comes directly from the tap

  • United Nations Environment Programme estimates that in every single square mile of the sea, there’s 46,000 pieces of plastic floating – worldwide

  • The Algalita Marine Research foundation estimates as much as 1 million pieces in 1 square km in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch

  • 80% of all rubbish in the ocean comes from activities from the land, 20% from the activities at sea

  • Algalita Marine Research foundation recently did a study of 660 fish that shows on average each fish contained more than 2 pieces of plastic. One fish had 26 particles

  • There’s an area estimated to be the size of Texas (some say twice the size) in the Pacific Ocean known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch that is a swirling mass of plastic trash

  • Many researches and environmental organisations list plastic and the number one threat to our marine environment

  • Each year millions of birds, mammals and fish die from plastic because they either eat it or get caught in it

  • 8 million items of marine litter have been estimated to enter oceans and seas every day,

  • Over 80 species of seabirds have been  found to ingest plastic

  • 90% of Laysan Albatross chick carcasses contain plastic

  • In turtles, plastic has been shown to block intestines and make the animals float so they can’t dive for food

  • In a 1998 survey, 89 per cent of the litter observed floating on ocean surface in the North Pacific was plastic.

  • The AMRF in 2002 found 6 kilos of plastic for every kilo of plankton near the surface. This can be as much as 30-60 times in some places

  • 70 per cent of the marine litter that enters the sea ends up on the seabed

  •  it takes about 272 billion litres of water a year, worldwide, just to make the empty bottles.

It’s expected that in 2010, for every single person on this planet we’ll use 100 pounds of plastic

 

Plastics are like diamonds………they really are forever












Distribution of Marine Litter – United Nations Environment Programme

Despite actions taken nationally and internationally, the situation with regard to marine litter is continuously getting worse.

Globally: There are no recent and certain figures on the amounts of marine litter worldwide. Nor are there any such global figures on the annual input of marine litter to the marine and coastal environment. In 1997, the US Academy of Sciences estimated the total input of marine litter into the oceans, worldwide, at approximately 6.4 million tonnes per year.

According to other calculations, some 8 million items of marine litter have been estimated to enter oceans and seas every day, about 5 million of which are thrown overboard or lost from ships. Furthermore, it has been estimated that over 13,000 pieces of plastic litter are floating on every square kilometre of ocean surface.

In a 1998 survey, 89 per cent of the litter observed floating on ocean surface in the North Pacific was plastic. The Algalita Marine Research Foundation (AMRF) has conducted surveys to compare the quantities of plastic fragments floating on the ocean surface to the availability of food with which they are mixed. In the central Pacific gyre, the AMRF in 2002 found 6 kilos of plastic for every kilo of plankton near the surface.

About 3,500 plastic resin pellets per km2 have been reported floating on the surface in the Sargasso Sea. Near industrial centres in New Zealand, concentrations of up to 100,000 pellets were observed in one km2 of beach.

According to figures from the North Sea, as well as from the water around Australia, it has been estimated that up to 70 per cent of the marine litter that enters the sea ends up on the seabed, whereas half of the remaining amount is found on beaches and half floating on the water surface.

Despite international and national efforts made during the last two decades, there are no clear indications that the quantities and distribution of marine litter are decreasing, either globally or regionally.

Most of us have heard that there is a swirling mass of plastic trash in the pacific called The Pacific Garbage Patch that is similar in size to Texas. A lot of this plastic is mistaken as food by birds and fish, and releases toxic chemicals into the water – that can eventually end up as our dinner.

However, many people don’t know that there are 5 such gyres across the worlds oceans

 

Ban Plastic Water Bottles

(Natural News) Bottled water is typically considered to be a healthy alternative to drinking plain tap water. In fact, Americans drink approximately eight million gallons of bottled water every year. While bottled water is definitely a better choice than soft drinks or sports drinks that contain high fructose corn syrup, bottled water is not a good choice for the wellbeing of the earth. Here are some of the health and environmental issues associated with consuming bottled water.

1. It takes three to five times more water to manufacture the plastic water bottle than actually is contained in the water bottle itself. Because each bottle should only be used one time (so as not to contaminate water with phthalates) this seems to be an inordinate amount of water utilized in the manufacturing process.

2. Plastic is a petroleum product so using plastic water bottles depletes this non-renewable resource. The Pacific Institute has calculated that the manufacturing process for making plastic water bottles used in the US consumes roughly 17 million barrels of oil every year.

3. Plastic water bottles are not recycled the way they should be. It is estimated that in 2005 only about 12% of plastic water bottles were recycled. This is partly because water bottles are many times not included in local recycling plans. Another factor is that bottled water is often consumed away from home and so is disposed of in mixed-trash containers instead of being recycled. In a 2002 study by Scenic Hudson it was reported that 18 percent by volume of recovered litter from the Hudson River was beverage containers. In landfills, water bottles will remain biodegrading for approximately 1,000 years. Incinerating used water bottles produces toxic byproducts including chlorine gas and ash that contains heavy metals.

4. Roughly 94 % of the bottled water in the U.S. is bottled domestically. Of this percentage, approximately 25 percent sold is just reprocessed municipal water according to a 1999 study by the National Resources Defense Council.

5. Using plastic bottles that contain Bisphenol A is detrimental to human health. Bisphenol A behaves similarly to estrogen. This means that when enough of this accumulates in the body there will be negative health effects. Bisphenol A has been linked to obesity, diabetes, breast cancer, and hyperactivity.

Alternatives to Plastic Bottles:

Stainless steel and glass water bottles are safer and more earth-friendly. There are also many companies manufacturing BPA-free and phthalate-free plastic water bottles.

Whatever kind of plastic is used, it is important to hand wash any plastic food and beverage items in warm (not hot) water. Washing plastic items at the high and sustained temperatures of an automatic dishwasher is detrimental to human health and should be avoided at all costs.

By Jo Hartley, citizen journalist  Email Jo
See all articles by this author http://www.naturalnews.com/Author438.html

 

 

BPA hormone disruptor now contaminates Earth's oceans, scientists warn

(NaturalNews) Earlier this year, research linked bisphenol A (BPA), a common component of plastics and a powerful hormone disrupter, to heart disease. Now, in the March issue of the Journal of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology, researchers have reported yet another newly discovered danger posed by BPA. Hugh S. Taylor, M.D., professor in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences at Yale University, and his research team have found for the first time that BPA exposure during pregnancy can cause abnormalities in the uterus of offspring and permanent alterations in DNA.

But at least you can avoid plastics and therefore avoid exposure to the BPA, right? Unfortunately, another group of scientists has just announced that's getting harder and harder to do. Bottom line: there is now solid evidence that Earth's oceans have been contaminated on a global scale with BPA.

Katsuhiko Saido, Ph.D., of Nihon University in Chiba, Japan, and his colleagues announced their startling and worrisome findings at the 239th National Meeting of the American Chemical Society held in San Francisco recently. He stated that the massive BPA contamination of oceans resulted from hard plastic trash thrown in the seas as well as from another surprising source -- the epoxy plastic paints used to seal the hulls of ships.

"This new finding clearly demonstrates the instability of epoxy, and shows that BPA emissions from epoxy do reach the ocean. Recent studies have shown that mollusks, crustaceans and amphibians could be affected by BPA, even in low concentrations," Dr. Saido said in a statement to the media.

The scientists noted that light, white-foamed plastic decomposed rapidly at temperatures commonly found in the oceans, releasing the endocrine disruptor BPA. It isn't just soft plastics that leach BPA, either.

"We were quite surprised to find that polycarbonate plastic biodegrades in the environment," Dr. Saido explained. "Polycarbonates are very hard plastics, so hard they are used to make screwdriver handles, shatter-proof eyeglass lenses, and other very durable products. This finding challenges the wide public belief that hard plastics remain unchanged in the environment for decades or centuries. Biodegradation, of course, releases BPA to the environment."

Dr. Saido's research team analyzed sand and seawater from over 200 sites in 20 countries, including areas in Southeast Asia and North America. Every site tested contained what Dr. Saido labeled as "significant" amounts of BPA, ranging from 0.01 parts per million (ppm) to 50 ppm.

Dr. Saido pointed out that littering currently results in about 150,000 tons of plastic debris washing up on the shores of Japan alone each year. In addition, a huge area of plastic waste known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, which is about two times the size of Texas, now contaminates the area between California and Hawaii. "Marine debris plastic in the ocean will certainly constitute a new global ocean contamination for long into the future," Dr. Saido predicted in the press statement.

In yet more BPA news, Rolf Halden, associate professor in the School of Sustainable Engineering at Arizona State University and assistant director of Environmental Biotechnology at the Biodesign Institute, has just published a sobering research article on the hazards of chemical-loaded plastics. His findings, which are included in the latest issue of the Annual Review of Public Health, provide more evidence that plastics in garbage dumps, landfills and the world's oceans are an ever-increasing toxic problem.

In fact, Dr. Halden concluded in his paper that plastics and their additives such as BPA aren't only around us; they are inside virtually every human. The chemicals show up in blood and urine tests because they are ingested with the food we eat, the water we drink and from other environmental exposures.

"We're doomed to live with yesterday's plastic pollution and we are exacerbating the situation with each day of unchanged behaviour," Dr. Harden said in a press statement. "We are at a critical juncture and cannot continue under the modus that has been established. If we're smart, we'll look for replacement materials, so that we don't have this mismatch -- good for a minute and contaminating for 10,000 years."

"We live in a plastic convenience culture; every human being on this planet uses plastic materials directly and indirectly every single day," Watson said. "Our babies begin life on Earth by using some 210 million pounds of plastic diaper liners each year; we give them plastic milk bottles, plastic toys, and buy their food in plastic jars." Unending amounts of plastic pellets wash onto beaches worldwide.

In New Zealand, one beach was found to contain over 100,000 pellets per square meter. Thus, it is not so farfetched to suggest that people are in fact sunbathing on plastic beaches - literally.

"On the beach on San Juan Island, Washington, Allison Lance walks her dogs every morning," Watson said. "She carries a plastic bag in her hand to carry the bits and pieces of plastic debris she picks up. Each morning she fills the bag, but by the next morning there is always another bag to be filled. Joey Racano does the same in Huntington Beach further south in California. The harvest of plastic waste is never-ending. Allison's and Joey's beaches, and practically every beach around the world is similarly cursed.

 By S. L. Baker, features writer

 

 

 Bottled Water's Environmental Toll

Eco Footprint

• The energy used each year making the bottles needed to meet the demand for bottled water in the United States is equivalent to more than 17 million barrels of oil. That's enough to fuel over 1 million cars for a year.

• If water and soft drink bottlers had used 10% recycled materials in their plastic bottles in 2004, they would have saved the equivalent of 72 million gallons of gasoline. If they had used 25%, they would have saved enough energy to electrify more than 680,000 homes for a year.

• In 2003, the California Department of Conservation estimated that roughly three million water bottles are trashed every day in that state. At this rate, by 2013 the amount of un-recycled bottles will be enough to create a two-lane highway that stretches the state's entire coast.

• In 2004 the recycling rate for all beverage containers was 33.5 percent. If it reached 80 percent, the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions would be the equivalent of removing 2.4 million cars from the road for a year.

• That bottle that takes just three minutes to drink can take up to a thousand years to biodegrade.

 

A clear look at water bottles

Chemicals from water bottles can seep into drinks and may have long-lasting health implications.

...on the other hand, you may be relieved to hear that most of the single-serving water bottles sold at grocery stores don't contain BPA. They're made of polyethylene terephthalate (PETE or PET), designated by a number "1" in the recycling sign.

But even though PETE doesn't contain BPA, it does contain other chemicals called phthalates - which are also believed to be endocrine disruptors.

Like BPA, these chemicals leach into the water more quickly when the plastic is heated, so don't leave these water bottles in a hot car or out in the sun.

BY Luz Claudio | Oct 13, 2008

 

To see more stories about the environment go to our News section.

Please look at the impact on health if you haven't already.



 
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HEALTH

Discover the full impact that plastic bottles and BPA can have on your family.
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ENVIRONMENT

We use 100 million plastic bottles everyday. 1500 end up in our landfills every second. Millions of animals die and choke every year.
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