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Plastic - why so popular?!

C Jenkinson | 15 June, 2021


          
            Plastic - why so popular?!

Plastic has not always been man-made! 3500 years ago, it was collected for the first time from gum trees! This means plastic has been around for a long time and can be 100% natural! 

Why is it not then? During the mid 19th and 20th centuries, it started to be produced synthetically from fossil fuels as it was both CHEAPER AND FASTER. Since then, the amount of plastic produced weighs a total of around 9.2 billion tonnes 

Why is plastic so popular:

  1. Creating plastic from fossil fuels is very cheap, and fast. 
  2. The material is very versatile! Plastic is made of flexible polymers, that when heated, are easily shaped into whatever we want. 
  3. Plastic is extremely resistant, which is also why it is so hard to get rid of it. It takes between 500 and 1000 years to decompose!

But can we make it disappear faster? Is there a way to break plastics down, back to its original polymers? 

There are a few organisms that can break down plastic and turn it to compost; wax worms and meal worms are being used.  There is also a newly discovered microbe that can break down plastics to a number of days, compared to thousands of years.  Impressive!

The best way though is simple changes you can make; reusable alternatives.  There are changes we can all make to live a cleaner life.