Plastic pollution is a global problem and it’s reaching such proportions that we may not be able to reverse its harmful effects unless we drastically reduce the amount of plastic waste that makes its way into the environment.
This stark assessment was reached by an international team of experts from Sweden, Norway and Germany who stress that the rate of plastic pollution is likely reaching a tipping point for the planet.
“Plastic pollution accumulating in an area of the environment is considered ‘poorly reversible’ if natural mineralization processes occurring there are slow and engineered remediation solutions are improbable. Should negative outcomes in these areas arise as a consequence of plastic pollution, they will be practically irreversible,” they explain in a study.
“Potential impacts from poorly reversible plastic pollution include changes to carbon and nutrient cycles; habitat changes within soils, sediments, and aquatic ecosystems; co-occurring biological impacts on endangered or keystone species; ecotoxicity; and related societal impacts,” the scientists add.
Plastic waste, often in the form of microplastics, has permeated the planet from the tops of mountains to the depths of oceans. And we continue dumping yet more plastic into the oceans and onto land at an increasing rate.