Plastic is a modern invention that has changed the world, providing many benefits to different sectors. However, it has also caused a great deal of pollution, filling our landfills, homes and oceans. Plastic waste is now in our drinking water and on our plates, and it is predicted to soon overtake all the fish in the sea. The most obvious form of pollution associated with plastic packaging is wasted plastic that is sent to landfills.
Plastics are very stable and therefore remain in the environment long after being discarded, especially if they are protected from direct sunlight when buried in landfills. The antioxidants that manufacturers often add to improve the container's resistance to attack by acidic contents further decrease decay rates. Polypropylene (PP) is a common plastic used to create end products for customers, such as plastic packaging, and represents 16 percent of the entire plastics industry. Plastic pollution goes beyond plastic particles; it also includes all the chemicals that are added to plastics, many of which are known to be harmful to people and the environment. Undoubtedly, plastic products are widely used by almost everyone in the world, whether in plastic bags, bottles, household items and many others. The environmental impacts of plastic manufacturing are far-reaching.
Seas, rivers and lakes are affected due to plastic waste, such as plastic bottles, wrappers, toys and the like. Although the leak of plastics into the ocean and the subsequent impacts on marine life have been the most studied, plastic pollution also affects terrestrial and freshwater ecosystems. A review of the United States EPA database shows that nearly 1,600 (16%) of industrial accidents between 1980 and 1987 were related to the production of plastics or plastic components. This data was limited because manufacturers in the “miscellaneous plastics” sector did not submit reports. These impacts include toxic pollution that is released in manufacturing, exposure to toxic additives in plastic consumer products, poor waste management, misinformation campaigns about risks and solutions to plastic pollution, and more. Since 99% of plastics are created from fossil fuel raw materials, plastic production is closely linked to the fossil industry.
In addition to standards on the design and characteristics of plastic products, there are standards on topics as diverse as the chemical composition of plastics and product labeling. Plastics are used in agriculture in many ways, such as plastic-coated seeds, mulch films, or as an additive in synthetic fertilizers and pesticides. Taking into account the scope and impacts of plastic pollution, an increasing number of actors from governments, civil society and the academic world are calling for efforts to address the crisis at its source by reducing plastic production. This large amount of plastic production and the increase in single-use plastics have made plastic a waste management problem. The challenges associated with the plastics trade are immense, as plastics are traded globally as fossil raw materials, primary materials, manufactured products and waste.