Is there an alternative to nylon bags? None
So says one of the participants in a BBC poll on the streets of Kuwait and Cairo, an opinion shared by many.
Perhaps they are right, and they see that plastic is imposed on them in their daily lives, from bags to plastic bottles and containers,
Why should we think about getting rid of plastic?” Or why would any plastic bag or bottle become dangerous to our lives?. The answer to these questions lies in some statistics.
plastic in numbers
•5 trillion plastic bags are produced per year, according to a statistic by Factory Direct. It takes 1000 years for one sachet to decompose
• Every minute humans use more than one million plastic bottles, and only 10 percent of those bottles are recycled.
• In total, 380 tons of plastic are produced annually, according to a census conducted by Plastic Ocean. So far, 9 billion tons of plastic have been produced, a number roughly the same as the weight of all humans who have walked the earth so far.
• Plastic takes thousands of years to decompose, meaning that every piece of plastic is still present on the Earth’s surface since it was invented only 122 years ago.
Plastic inside our bodies
But plastic isn’t just all around us, it’s infiltrating our bodies, according to a new study from Italy’s Politecnica delle Marche.
The study, whose results were published in the journal Polymers, proved the presence of small particles of plastic in breast milk. Milk samples from 34 mothers a week after delivery showed that 75 percent of them were plastic.
Other studies have proven that plastic particles cause the death of human cells and one of the causes of cancer, while other studies are being conducted on the extent to which these particles can reach the brain as a result.
What is the source of the plastic particles that enter our bodies?
These particles come from the air we breathe, with plastic accounting for 20 to 40 percent of the aerosols in homes. In turn, it comes from furniture, bedspreads, and clothes, most of which are plastic.
The food we eat is also full of plastic that comes from leftover packaging or plastic ingested by poultry, livestock and fish.
At Royal Holloway in London, Professor Dave Morett spends his working time studying microplastics in fish in Britain.
Speaking to BBC staff as he dissects a crab, the professor says: “Particles of plastic that we find in fish are often obvious, this one looks like it’s from a wet tissue.”
Each year, more than 13 billion tons of plastic are dumped into the seas and oceans. Which disintegrates and turns into pieces and particles that are ingested by marine organisms.
The sizes of the plastic pieces found in the fish that Mort works on vary from large sizes that can be observed by the naked eye, and others that require a microscope.
In Arab countries, it is no different
In a study published in the journal MBDA, carried out by a group of researchers over a period of months on samples of fish from the Nile River, the results found that 75 percent of the fish contained plastic particles.
In his interview with the BBC, Shadi Khalil, co-founder of the Egyptian “Grench” project, which works on solutions to environmental problems, says that plastic problems vary according to its type and the economic value of each type. “There are types that are less dangerous than others.”
For example, plastic bottles, although they are a problem, are less dangerous than plastic bags, as the former has a higher economic value.
“While workers in the Zabbaleen neighborhood of Manshiet Nasser, Cairo, search for bottles to be recycled, a process that leaves a lot of plastic behind. Plastic bags are not collected” and are carried by air and reach water bodies.
Has plastic become a reality that cannot be disposed of?
“50 years ago, plastic did not exist in our lives,” Khalil says. Where the use of plastic spread in the fifties of the last century. Prior to that, the main reliance was on paper and glass containers.
People can come to terms with not having plastic as they did before, “but the more important question is are governments and plastic-producing companies willing to stop?”
Shady says the answer is no. “Companies that use plastic as a cheap alternative to packaging are not ready to change.” Shadi also asks government officials to review the medical costs of health problems caused by the spread of plastic “which are much higher than the cost of switching to plastic alternatives.”