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UN Urges Urgent Hearing To Curb Usage Of Plastics

United Nations named plastic one of the biggest environmental threats

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United Nations on Tuesday named plastic one of the biggest environmental threats
United Nations on Tuesday named plastic one of the biggest environmental threats, flickr

Marking World Environment Day, the United Nations on Tuesday named plastic one of the biggest environmental threats facing the world.

The report, Single-Use Plastics: A Roadmap for Sustainability, said while government regulation on the use of plastic has made some impact on reducing waste, it is not enough, and more urgent action is needed.

“Our world is swamped by harmful plastic waste,” U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said in a speech. “Microplastics in the seas now outnumber stars in our galaxy.”

“From remote islands to the Arctic, nowhere is untouched. If present trends continue, by 2050 our oceans will have more plastic than fish,” he said.

The report noted that by some estimates, as many as 5 trillion plastic bags are used worldwide every year.

While acknowledging that combating plastic waste is different for every country, the U.N. report suggested 10 universal steps that policymakers can follow, including use of more eco-friendly alternatives to plastics and the promotion of reusable products.

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UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ press conference with the national and international press to present the results of his visit to Mali and to answer the many questions of journalists.

According to the Ocean Conservancy, 8 million metric tons of plastic enters the Earth’s oceans every year, which adds to the estimated 150 million metric tons already in the marine environment.

A 2017 report by the Ocean Conservancy said China, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam are dumping more plastic than the rest of the world combined.

But the advocacy group warned that the problem is not Asia’s alone. It noted the United States tosses out more than 33 million tons of plastic, of which less than 10 percent is recycled.

For years, environmentalists have warned of the deadly effect plastic trash has on marine wildlife. This week, a pilot whale died in Thailand after struggling for five days to stay alive. Thailand’s Department of Marine and Coastal Resources announced that the whale had 80 plastic bags lodged in its stomach.

Also read:  Plastic free Delhi promised EU India

A Thai marine official said the whale, which normally feeds on squid, probably mistook the floating debris for food. (VOA)

Next Story

Researchers Find Synthetic Fibers The Major Contributors of Environmental Pollution

Synthetic fibres are petroleum-based products, unlike natural fibres such as wool, cotton and silk, which are recyclable and biodegradable. 

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Synthetic fibres are petroleum-based products, unlike natural fibres such as wool, cotton and silk, which are recyclable and biodegradable.  Pixabay

Polyester and other synthetic fibres like nylon are major contributors of microplastics pollution in the environment, say researchers and suggest switching to biosynthetic fibres to prevent this.

“These materials, during production, processing and after use, break down and release microfibres that can now be found in everything and everyone,” said Melik Demirel, Professor at the Pennsylvania State University in the US.

Synthetic fibres are petroleum-based products, unlike natural fibres such as wool, cotton and silk, which are recyclable and biodegradable.

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Bacteria that consume plastics do exist. However, they are currently at the academic research phase and will take some time to gain industrial momentum. Pixabay

Mixed fibres that contain both natural and synthetic fibres are difficult or costly to recycle.

In the oceans, pieces of microscopic plastic are consumed by plants and animals and enter the human food chain through harvested fish.

In the study, Demirel suggested few things to prevent this: minimising the use of synthetic fibres and switching to natural fibres such as wool, cotton, silk and linen, even though synthetic fibres are less expensive and natural fibres have other environmental costs, such as water and land-use issues; large scale use of bacteria that could aid in biodegradation of the fibres for reuse; substituting synthetic fibres with biosynthetic fibres, that are both recyclable and biodegradable; and blending synthetic fibres with natural fibres to lend them durability while also allowing the blends to be recycled.

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Polyester and other synthetic fibres like nylon are major contributors of microplastics pollution in the environment, say researchers and suggest switching to biosynthetic fibres to prevent this. Pixabay

Also Read: Patients Going Through Gender-Transition Treatment At A Grater Risk Of Cardiac Diseases

Bacteria that consume plastics do exist. However, they are currently at the academic research phase and will take some time to gain industrial momentum.

The study was presented at the 2019 annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in the US. (IANS)