Plastic Pollution Blights Bay Of Bengal.
This photojournalistic article illustrates the horrendous pollution in the Bay of Bengal engendered by our plastic revolution. Since plastics belong to a chemical family of high polymers, they are essentially made up of a long chain of molecules containing repeated units of carbon atoms. Because of this inherent molecular stability, plastics do not easily breakdown into simpler components. Plastics do decompose, though not fully, over a very long period of time; in average 100 to 500 years. Commercially available plastics (polyolefins like polyethylene, polypropylene, etc.) have been further made resistant to decomposition by means of additional stabilizers like antioxidants. Thus, unless the plastic is specially designed to decompose in the soil, such materials can last a very long time because the chemical bonds that hold the molecules together are often stronger than nature’s power to take them apart. This means that soil microorganisms that can easily attack and decompose things like wood and other formerly living materials cannot break the various kinds of strong bonds that are common to most plastics. The Marine Conservancy has published that the estimated decomposition rates of most plastic debris found on coasts are:
- Foamed plastic cups: 50 years
- Plastic beverage holder: 400 years
- Disposable diapers: 450 year
- Plastic bottle: 450
- Fishing line: 600 years.
Credit: Coastal Care
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