Updated: Oct 7, 2020
Everyone knows that plastic waste is one of the biggest problems to the environment today. There are over 150 million metric tons of plastic in the ocean and river. If it is difficult for you to picture how big that is, you can assume all the plastic waste as a country and it’s called the Great Pacific Garbage. This country’s area is 3 times bigger than France. And each year this country just keeps getting bigger – 8 million metric tons a year. According to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, only 14% of all plastic produced are recycled, while the remaining 83% are burned, buried or thrown into the ocean. This leads to an estimated value of plastic materials being lost to the economy each year, about 80-120 billion USD.
When plastic waste becomes a pollution crisis, of course, banning them is also an option. Is it just a matter of whether or not to do it? It is difficult or even impossible for us to give up all dependence on plastic. Because plastic is not as bad as we think, it is the greatest invention of the 20th century and makes human life more comfortable. Plastic is a lightweight, inexpensive material applied to almost any industry from food, apparel, medical to aerospace. The only problem here is how people throw and dispose of plastic trash. Because it is cheap and convenient, plastic is applied to many disposable products, which created a plastic crisis. Disposable plastic spoons, straws and cups are almost used every day, and there is no way to reuse these types of utensils.
Many scientists around the world have been looking to apply technology to solve the problem of plastic waste currently. There are many modern solutions like new recycling technology to new highly biodegradable plastic made from algae.
There have even been experts looking to use moths or mutant bacteria to digest that plastic. All of the above methods are very good. But they are quite expensive, slow performance. Meanwhile, humanity still has many environmental issues that need attention, such as reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Some people say we can simply cut out all single-use plastics bottle and switch to glass one. It may seem like a good idea at first, but after considering the logic of it, turns out It really is not a viable solution. Because glass bottle is more expensive than a plastic bottle and it’s quite heavy to carry around. It is a matter of human perception. If they do not agree to switch to a reusable item, banning plastic is afraid it will have negative consequences.
Are the government's efforts in propaganda enough to help people change attitudes toward the environment? Is it sufficient for businesses to balance benefits between the environment and the economy? Kim Borg's research showed that if the government just provides information through propaganda; it is always not enough. There is a lot of information about plastic pollution on articles every day, the problem is people won't read it. Instead, what they should and can do is help them see the solution, encourage them by different ways and convince them what they do can change the world.
It is important to help them understand what replacement products there are. For example, you can use bamboo straws, metal straws instead of plastic straws, use tote bags to buy things to the supermarket instead of plastic bags. Many coffee shops also have a bonus mode for customers who come to buy water with ready-made cups. Or drinks will not come with plastic straws, unless requested by the customer. This will contribute to significantly limit the amount of plastic straws emitted without ban.
If you want our Earth to be free from plastic waste, you have to start with really effective campaigns, directing consumers to alternative reusable products. Then, when the whole community started to change their perception, it is time to charge a small fee on disposable plastic products. Finally, when everyone is familiar with that, the ban would be justified to "deal with" the stubborn ones who don't change.
Olson, Photograph by Randy. “Plastic Trash Flowing into the Seas Will Nearly Triple by 2040 without Drastic Action.” National Geographic, 24 July 2020, www.nationalgeographic.com/science/2020/07/plastic-trash-in-seas-will-nearly-triple-by-2040-if-nothing-done/.
Daniel T Cross on October 22, et al. “Ban Plastics? Let's Change Our Habits Instead.” Sustainability Times, 22 Oct. 2019, www.sustainability-times.com/environmental-protection/ban-plastics-lets-change-our-habits-instead/.
Meilani. “Why We Can't Just Stop Using Plastic - MaterialTrader.com Plastic.” MaterialTrader.com, 8 July 2020, community.materialtrader.com/why-we-cant-just-stop-using-plastic/.
“Why We Can't Quit Plastic: Earth.Org - Past: Present: Future.” Earth.Org - Past | Present | Future, 7 Aug. 2020, earth.org/why-we-cant-quit-plastic-waste/.