Virgin Plastic and Why It Is a Problem
Virgin plastic is brand new manufactured plastic. The problem with virgin plastic is that we already have way too much plastic produced. We also have no true recovery system for it. There is so much plastic in existence that we do not know where to even put it. You might be wondering, “What about recycling?” Click here to learn more about the myth of recycling!
As much as I dislike plastic because of its harmful synthetic chemical composition and its dangerous effects on the environment and its inhabitants, I have to admit that the general idea of plastic is genius. The density, color, size, shape, quality, can all be determined by manufacturers. Plastic is durable and cheap to make. Astoundingly, plastic defeats us in the quest for eternal physical life on Earth. Plastic sounds like a magical solution, doesn’t it? Right now, can you imagine life without plastic?
The major issue with plastic is that it is created from nonrenewable, finite resources: oil, gas, coal. Additionally, it never goes away… The plastic toothbrush you used as a 6 year old is still somewhere on this planet. The water bottle you recycled after a baseball game a few years back is still somewhere on this planet. Both of those plastic items not only still exist out there, but they will continue to exist well past your lifetime.
How Can Plastic Outlive Us?
“Nature functions by building up and breaking down; building up and breaking down. Anything that goes out into the environment which is made by nature is built up and can be broken down, and we have had hiccups with our civilization because we keep putting things into the environment that don’t break down.” (Trashed, 2012)
Plastic can not biodegrade meaning bacteria and other living organisms cannot break it down; like how fallen leaves from a tree decompose and the soil and bacteria absorb the nutrients for new life. Plastic is photodegradable which means it breaks down from heat and light, not from living organisms. Furthermore, it only breaks down into smaller and smaller pieces. It does not decompose and can remain in the environment for 2000+ years.
Plastic is composed of fossil fuels and synthetic chemicals which are man-made chemicals created by humans for specific purposes, often times imitating a naturally occurring chemical. I am not a chemist by any means nor do I have vast knowledge or a true understanding of chemical compounds, So please correct me if I am wrong! From my understanding, some polymers occur naturally, such as silk, DNA, and wool. However, synthetic polymers are the issue because scientists create polymers with bonds that organisms do not know how to break down because they are not natural bonds of chemicals.
Why Do We Keep Producing Virgin Plastic?
A major problem is with recycling. It is cheaper to make virgin plastic than it is to recycle old plastic.
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I also believe another answer (my cynical opinion towards the oil, gas, and plastic industries) is that it is all about the money. At this point, we have evidence of how plastic disrupts the natural flow of life and organisms. We visually see the amount of plastic pollution in Earths oceans and on the lands and how many animals die from plastic ingestion or entrapment. We see a disturbing increase in rates for cancer, birth defects, early onset puberty, ADHD, etc. Scientists are spending endless hours on proving plastic is the reason for these rate increases. We have so much visual evidence and scientific evidence, yet these companies deny problems and keep producing.