Is There Plastic in our Water?

Plastic Pollution

Is There Plastic In Our Water?

Increasingly, we hear about the importance of embracing recycling, renewables & eco-friendly practices with plastics being a large problem-area on which to focus. Plastics used in both domestic and industrial domains alike, are often viewed as a one-use, disposable materials given little further thought. Plastics are however, designed to be extremely durable and resistant to degradation, sticking around for hundreds of years in some cases, meaning disposal becomes a tricky issue. Packaging Reuse is here to help you with these challenges, though in the meantime, it is worth reminding ourselves of our current situation and why we need to take action. Large amounts of plastics still end up being sent to landfill and much of this eventually ends up in our oceans.
The issue of plastics recycling is often framed in terms of consumer and domestic waste, however it is also vital that companies who regularly use plastics also consider their impact on the environment. While it is easy to view individual contribution or the contribution of a single company in insignificance, the cumulative effects of this approach can be extremely dramatic.
Currently, we globally produce 1,000,000 water bottles per minute and over 330,000,000 tonnes of plastic are produced per year. Undoubtedly, a large chunk of this can be combatted through recycling and reuse, reducing plastic production needs. Regardless, still only a fraction is recycled, with approximately 8 million tonnes of plastic produced ending up in our rivers and oceans per year.

Clearly, a large amount of plastics in our oceans can have dramatic impacts on our environment and food chains. Dr Jennifer Lavers, a marine scientist and expert in migratory birds finds many cases of birds who have died as a result of plastic ingestion, including a case of a 90 day old chick, who has consumed 276 (visible) pieces of plastic, which had become stuck in the body. This amount constituted 15% of body mass, which would be equivalent to an average human consuming almost 10kg of plastic in three months.

It is not just large plastics polluting the ocean that we should be wary of: Researchers at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh, have recently produced experiments demonstrating how smaller plastic particles clump together with bacteria, algae and other organic particles. It is feared that the occurrence of these processes will lead to further increasing ingestion by marine life.

While we can clearly see many plastics and litter in our oceans, most plastics in the water are invisible; these plastics have fragmented over time to form tiny ‘Micro-plastics’. Micro-plastics have been shown to be being consumed by many marine animals with the potential of dire consequences, the effects being of more importance for small creatures such as plankton, who form the base of many large food chains. Should small creatures such as these suffer, there may be large knock-on effects for many different species, including humans.

A global study on purity of bottled water, carried out by scientists based at the State University of New York in Fredonia tested nearly a dozen brands of water purchased around the world. After testing in their NYC laboratories, micro-plastics were found in 93% of bottles tested, with varying amounts between brand and country of origin. This same group tested tap water around the world, finding micro-plastics present there too, although in lesser amounts. We currently do not definitively know how much these micro plastics can effect the body; although many plastics are small enough to ‘pass’ they are also small enough to pass into the bloodstream. It is well known that plastics can absorb and react with certain chemicals which could be very damaging to the body.

With all this in mind, it is clearly more important than ever to become aware of your plastic waste and do what you can to help. Packaging Reuse do our bit by making recycling and reuse easier for your company, providing services that help to reduce our impact on the environment and make the world a cleaner place for everyone.