Global Plastic production statistics manifest a whooping increase of over 350 million metric tonnes each year around 2016, exposing a relentless growth graph since the past 5 decades. There has been numerous campaigns placarding against the exponential growth of plastic pollution, known to interfere with survival on planet earth.
Many an eminent has voiced against the rampant littering, aiming to catalyze a significant reduction in clogging landfills, waste streams, choking marine and wildlife as well as poisoning them for good. But, this definitely seems to be the prelude to the greater story. Neo scientific evidence talks about plastic being one of the integral causes that accounts for an irreparable and intense effect of Global Warming on earth.
One of the most extensive studies reveal, plastic might release heat trapping greenhouse gases on being exposed to light. Speaking at length, light not only reserves the capacity to break down plastic but also release lethal gases like methane and ethylene- termed as grade one green house constituents.
Although research confirms that degrading plastic will sum up for a marginal percentage of global emissions, a rampant increase is on the cards owing to the rapid multiplication in global production each year.
The extensive study involved an experiment in order to trace the gases being released due to plastic degradation. Seven variants of plastic used by consumers were collected for sampling inclusive of both the new produce as well as those scouted from the ocean. In the mean while, the extent of gas production during the floating state of plastics was observed.
The results left scientists awestruck at human ignorance towards such a gruesome reality. Besides emission of methane and ethylene, low density polyethylene ( LDPE ), on exposure to natural light produced more greenhouse emissions that surpassed rest elements clubbed together.
LDPE is a super fine element present in plastic wrap and grocery carry packs, which happens to be regularly discarded as reported by a renowned marine biologist- lead researcher on the paper that is exploring the extent plastic degradation contributes to greenhouse emissions. Maximum exposure of LDPE in the sun amplifies the release of methane and ethylene, as light is already known to be a potent catalyst pacing up a range of reactions.
The team of scientists contributing to the paper suggested that gases are emitted as a result of the ultraviolet rays breaking down plastic fragments floating on the ocean surface. In fact studies speak of tinier particles of LDPE account for more emissions than slightly bigger ones, considering the fact that they occupy more surface area.
Now, this warns us against the reckless dumping of garbage into ocean which on an average counts up to more than 100 million metric tonnes each year- still on the rise. With the rapid increase in the surface area of floating plastics, the problem will gradually spin out of control if not checked at the earliest.
Among the manifold effects of global warming, degrading plastic remains one of the potential causes that provoke multiple hazards adversely impacting the ecological balance on earth.
Having prophesized the impending devastation that we are likely to face due to plastic pollution in the oceans, the only good thing is the overwhelming quantity of plastic that is buried in the landfills, absolutely bereft of light exposure.