The world today is facing a major crisis due to the dumping of plastic waste by the sea and associated beaches. Scientists point out that by 2050, there will be more plastic than sea fish.
Hundreds of thousands of sea creatures and seabirds die each year due to plastic waste. Therefore, turtles, seals, and other marine mammals are endangered. According to The World Counts website, the use of polythene bags worldwide is approximately 5 trillion per year and the consumption per second is 160,000.
World polythene consumption triples every 10 years. The Great Pacific Garbage Patch, also known as the "Pacific Garbage Patch" in the North Pacific, is made up mostly of plastic and polythene. It is twice the size of the state of Texas (20 million square kilometers) and contains about 100 million tons of waste. Only 1-3% of the world's used polythene bags are recycled.
>Most plastic & polythene are non-biodegradable and when exposed to sunlight, the bonds of the plastic polymers are weakened by photo degrade. Also releases a chemical called Bio phenol. According to a 2012 survey, about 165 million tons of illegally dumped polythene and plastic are deposited on the sea bed. The toxic diethyl hexyl phthalate found here is carcinogenic. It also enters humans through the food chain through sea creatures.
There are two main types of polythene products. Namely High Density polyethylene (HDPE)
and Low Density polyethylene (LDPE). Polyethylene consists of long chains. Ethylene is
formed from natural gas and petroleum. In the manufacture of these polythene bags, other
materials including dyes are added.
A biodegradable polyethylene chain, also known as recyclable polythene, is a form of polymer formed from lactic acid that can be digested by polylactic acid. These have the potential to be digested by microorganisms.
In addition, the oceans around the world today face many challenges due to the micro-plastics that lead to marine pollution. Microplastic is a plastic particle less than 5 mm (the size of a sesame seed). Some micro-plastics are so delicate that they remain with the dust in the environment.
Also, there is a risk of micro-plastics joining ocean systems in ships and boats and related transportation. It also contains a large amount of micro-plastics from industrial effluents and wastewater released into the environment.
Destruction of aquatic organisms due to ingestion of micro-plastics.
* Application of coral reef growth and gradual death.
*Algae build up around micro-plastics, killing the lower organisms in the food chain by eating them. This affects the entire food chain.
* Micro-plastics in the terrestrial environment through the respiratory system, food and water. It causes various diseases including allergies, respiratory ailments and cancer
Inheriting a beautiful ocean and coastal environment, Sri Lanka today emits 1.59 million tons of plastic annually. It is a pity that Sri Lanka is currently the fifth largest emitter of plastic waste in the world. Although Sri Lanka focuses on environmental pollution as land, inland water systems and air, our concern, interest and understanding of marine pollution is also minimal. Hikkaduwa, Rumassala, Pasikuda and Kalkuda coral reefs are being destroyed today.
Our concern for the land environment should also extend to ocean systems. To this end, the disposal of other wastes including polythene plastics into the environment should be stopped immediately. School children should be educated through proper education. People need to be made aware of the social responsibility they have by creating the right attitudes.
The main reason why the current ban on polythene plastics is not being implemented is that the people of the country do not feel it. If we act today for the future generations of the country, we will be able to maintain Sri Lanka's beautiful marine environment.