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Why is plastic bad for the environment? – Enlightenment

Why is plastic bad for the environment? - Enlightenment

It is estimated that there are currently around 150 million tons of plastic floating in the seas and every year around 9 million tons are added, this has devastating effects on our ecosystem Follow.

The properties of plastic

Most plastic is made from gas or crude oil through a chemical process. Plastic can be used in many different areas and is very durable thanks to its robust nature. Exactly this longevity leads to acute and serious problems. Plastic manages to survive in our environment for several hundred years. Science assumes that every product that was once made of plastic can still be found somewhere in our environment.

It is precisely single-use plastic, which has usually served its purpose in a few seconds or hours, that is the cause of the damage for our environment in proportion more than uneven. In Europe, 40 percent of the packaging produced is already made of single-use plastic.

What are the consequences?

According to recent research, more than 800 species of marine animals around the world are already at risk because of plastic waste. The animals swim in the sea and mistake the floating plastic for food and swallow it. This can have devastating consequences for the animal, they can suffer internal injuries, starve or even die immediately. Carelessly disposed of fishing equipment such as lines or nets can quickly become a deadly trap for sea turtles, whales, dolphins or robes if the animal gets tangled up in it and can't find its way out.

The invisible consequences of the flood of plastic waste should not be underestimated either. Phthalates, so-called plasticizers, are added to some types of plastic during production. These are very harmful additives. The plastic particles also absorb harmful environmental toxins. These are mostly polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), which are banned due to their harmfulness, but can still be detected in our seas. The pollutants can collect on the surface of the plastic and turn into a deadly poison cocktail. If the animal ingests something like this, the toxic substances have the opportunity to accumulate in your tissue.

Distribution in our oceans

In the meantime, it has pushed the plastic waste to the most remote regions of the sea and has even reached the Arctic. Scientific studies in 2014 and 2015 found over 12,000 microplastic particles in one liter of sea ice. This is based on plastic particles that are smaller than 5 millimeters.

Plastic can also be found in the deep sea. A number of researchers are convinced that the deep sea in particular is a kind of dumping ground for anthropogenic plastic waste. Investigations found a lot of plastic waste in the Mediterranean Sea at a depth of over 2000 meters, and microplastics could also be detected in countless organisms in the depths.

Only 6 percent of the plastic that is ultimately washed up on the beaches floats on the surface of the oceans , the rest will sink to the bottom of the sea with hardly foreseeable consequences for the organisms living there.


The seas are not only polluted by plastic/plastic from neighboring countries, but also by landlocked countries such as Switzerland .

Dissolved persistent plastics, micro-rubber and micro-plastic are washed into the sea by the rivers. According to recent studies, around 1.5 million microplastics are carried into the oceans through rivers and wastewater every year. This has fatal consequences for the sea creatures, they poison themselves and become ill.

Many of the plastic particles are so small that they make it through the passage of the sewage treatment plants.
Especially in Switzerland, the Rhine and the Rhone are heavily involved Microplastic contaminates and flows directly into the sea.

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