Plastic is produced from natural gas and feedstocks that is derived from crude oil refining. The feedstocks or petrochemical crackers is a type of oil that consists of large carbon-containing compounds such as alkanes. Another oil called olefin is typically made up of propylene, and smaller amounts of ethylene and butylene. Olefins are the building blocks to manufacture plastic, and is what gives the flexibility of plastic to be molded into any shape and form.
The 1950’s was a time when plastic was being mass produced based on it’s cheap, durable, and versatile properties, and is recorded to weigh 8.3 billion tons which is equivalent to a billion elephants or 800,000 Eiffel Towers. Almost half of these plastics are still present, as a staggering 9% of it is recycled worldwide, and only 34% in the City of Hamilton. Although plastic is required for building and construction, the majority of it’s use is found in packaging, and single-use plastic bags. Worldwide, 2 million plastic bags are used every minute, and 1 million plastic bottles are bought every minute. The consumers responsible for generating this plastic waste, originate from North America such as Canada and the United States, as well as the UK. These developed countries either sell, or illegally ship the plastic waste to countries in Asia such as Malaysia, Philippines, and China. As seen in many photos of polluted beaches, it’s obvious that not all of this waste gets diverted efficiently.
As we know, plastic pollution is incredibly harmful in all aspects of the ecosystem. Whether it be fish mistaking plastic as food, birds being tangled in fishing nets, or terrestrial animals being stuck in plastic rings, humans will inevitably be effected as well through plastic entering our waterways and diets.