- Saudi Arabia produces more than 16 million tons of waste every year and only 5% is recycled. An average of 1.5-1.8 kg of waste per person a day!
- "Americans use over 500 million drinking straws per day. That’s enough straws to stretch around the Earth 2.5 times each day!” Just say “no plastic straw please” why? Watch this if you can.
Why is Burning trash bad for the environment?
- When you burn your garbage, even if it only contains organic material like paper and leaves, cancer-causing toxins are released into the environment and then it gets into your body through the air or in your food. Garbage burning can pollute the soil and the food grown near the burning. This can cause cancer, liver problems, negatively impact your immune and reproductive system, and it can cause developmental issues.
- It increases the release of greenhouse gas emissions. Climate change anyone?
Dangers of Plastic
- The synthetic plastic that is made out of man-made polymer is estimated to degrade in 500 years thanks to the sunlight. However, they’re not sure how long it will take plastic to fully degrade. It has only been around for about 70 years now. It’s hard to test how long it will take it to degrade as they have found out that it eventually only breaks down to micro-plastic.
- Micro-plastics are tiny pieces of plastic that pollute our waters and poison all lives on this planet. They are now found in our waters and in seafood. As it is common for sea creatures to consume them, then plastic ends up in the fat and muscles of these beings, and eventually in your body if you consume seafood.
- Once the plastic is in the water, it will never degrade. Even biodegradable plastic needs to be in an open environment to fully biodegrade. Meaning that if it’s deep in landfill or in the water (where it is likely to end up) it will NEVER degrade.
- Synthetic plastic is made out of finite resources. Meaning it’s not renewable.
Why Biodegradable Plastic is NOT the solution
I was very excited when I first heard about biodegradable plastic. Then I realized that it sounded too good to be true. So I did my research and sure enough, it’s not the solution. However, it’s still a step in the right direction, but unfortunately, a lot of people are confused and now believe that the plastic and waste issue is gone and that they can be careless about their waste production. Well, isn’t going to disappear by itself anyways?
There are different types of biodegradable plastic now. Hydro which is typically made from starch and is fully compostable. However, it requires more energy to produce and ship. It can also release methane in the air when it is not thrown in a compost bin. Just like other fruits and vegetables.
The other type is OXO, which is typically made by adding a certain ingredient to your normal plastic that makes it compostable. BUT, it cannot be composted in your backyard compost bin. It needs commercial composting. Therefore, when it ends up in landfill or in the ocean where it will likely end up being, it will not decompose, making it harmful to the environment. I pulled this out from D2W Plastic’s website. A company that produces biodegradable plastic. This is what they are saying:
Can it be composted? Oxo-biodegradable plastic does not degrade quickly in low temperature “windrow” composting, and it will not, therefore, pass the tests in EN13432 in the timescale there specified, but it is suitable for “in-vessel” composting at the higher temperatures required by the new EU animal by-products regulations.
What happens to it in a landfill? Oxo-biodegradable plastics fragment and partially biodegrade to CO2 and water in the parts of the landfill where oxygen is present, but degradation cannot continue deeper in the landfill in the absence of oxygen.
Oxo-biodegradable plastic lives up to 18 months according to their website. As you can see above, when the plastic is deep in the landfill, it will not biodegrade. 18 months is a long enough time for your garbage to be deep in the landfill or even in the ocean where oxygen is not present. Therefore it will cause harm to marine life.
Again, biodegradable plastic is a step in the right direction, especially if governments start to implement separated bins for oxo plastic so it can be composted correctly.
Why Recycling is NOT the answer
- Not everything in the plastic item is recyclable.
- There’s an end to how many times you can recycle plastic.
Why reusing is the best option
We cannot guarantee that all the biodegradable plastic will be composted. Even if it does, producing plastic requires energy. Besides, plastic has been proven to cause harm to our health, especially when exposed to high temperatures. According to D2W, a company the produces OXO plastic has stated this:
“Is it safe for food-contact? Yes.Oxo-biodegradable plastic has been certified by RAPRA Technology Analytical Laboratories as safe for long-term contact with any food type at temperatures up to 40°C”
It is common for animals to consume plastics, especially plastic bags. Here in Saudi, they found camels with plastic bags in their stomachs that end up killing them as they can block the intestines or by choking them.
In D2W website, it doesn’t say whether it’s safe for animals when it’s consumed by them. Plastic is a new invention, animals don’t know what it is and often confuse it with food, therefore, it is harmful to them and to anyone who consumes those animals as the toxins build up in their flesh.
Ask any surfer or diver if the oceans are the same as they used to be. They will tell you from first-hand experience how the oceans and the shores have changed. Many surfers and divers report seeing an increased amount of garbage in the ocean and sea to a degree that it makes it unenjoyable to dive anymore.
*Watch Plastic Oceans if you want to understand what’s going on. It’s on Netflix!
Our careless actions are causing the death of innocent creatures and eventually, it will cost us our health and the health of our planet.
For more quick facts, visit https://www.plasticoceans.org/the-facts/
Must Watch Short Videos
- Camels dying because of plastic https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j472UWkZ6_c
- What a plastic straw can do https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4wH878t78bw&feature=youtu.be
- Waste in Saudi Arabia http://www.ecomena.org/swm-ksa-ar/ https://sabq.org/%D8%A3%D9%83%D8%AB%D8%B1-%D9%85%D9%86-%D9%85%D9%84%D9%8A%D9%88%D9%86-%D8%B7%D9%86-%D9%86%D9%81%D8%A7%D9%8A%D8%A7%D8%AA-%D8%AA%D9%86%D8%AA%D8%AC%D9%87%D8%A7-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B3%D8%B9%D9%88%D8%AF%D9%8A%D8%A9-%D8%B3%D9%86%D9%88%D9%8A%D8%A7-%D9%88%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%AA%D8%AF%D9%88%D9%8A%D8%B1-%D9%81%D9%82%D8%B7
- Waste in Saudi Arabia http://www.ecomena.org/swm-ksa-ar/
- Straws http://www.blueoceansociety.org/how-to-helpdonate/skip-the-straw-project/
- Dangers of burning trash https://www.health.ny.gov/environmental/outdoors/air/trash.htm
- Biodegradable plastic and marine life https://marinedebris.noaa.gov/sites/default/files/publications-files/Gen_Plastic_9-20-11%281%29.pdf
- D2W Plastic http://www.symphonyenvironmental.com/d2w/
- Oxo plastic and food safety http://www.symphonyenvironmental.com/frequently-asked-questions/
- Plastic in camels https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j472UWkZ6_c
- Plastics in the Ocean Affecting Human Health https://serc.carleton.edu/NAGTWorkshops/health/case_studies/plastics.html
- TerraCycle A company that recycles just about anything! They also provide zero waste solutions and consultations. https://www.terracycle.com/en-US
- Impact of plastic on the animals / khawater https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XXB1KTabBrE