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California will become the first US state to make a thorough plan to eliminate microplastics. The comprehensive 22-step plan will prevent and intercept plastics from entering waterways and educate the public about its danger.
Microplastics are tiny pieces of plastic debris, and according to the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, any plastic smaller than 5mm in length is microplastic.
The size of microplastics makes them extremely dangerous and difficult to control. Cleaning up microplastics is almost impossible. Microplastics are found in waterways and even inside human and animal tissue. The issue is getting worse, and it’s reported that 11 million metric tons of plastic enter the planet’s oceans every year, and the number is predicted to triple by 2040.
California’s plan includes 22 actions to prevent, intercept, and educate. The state’s secretary of natural resources, Wade Crowfoot, pointed out how urgent this plan is for Californians,
“Microplastics are poisoning the ocean, both across the planet and off the California coast. We must take action.”
Many worry that it’s too late to try to eliminate microplastics. A study found that California waterways are already filled with microplastics. There are estimated to be 7 trillion pieces of plastic in the San Francisco bay alone, much of which wash down stormwater drains.
The California Ocean Protection Council states the top sources of microplastics as tires, synthetic textiles, cigarette filters, and single-use plastic food-ware.
However, many are hopeful that California’s microplastic plan will be good for the environment; after all, it’s never too late to stop polluting the earth.
Most of the plan focuses on preventing plastics and microplastics from entering the environment in the first place. The strategy suggests banning certain materials, focusing on reusability, and limiting single-use plastic, all of which scientists have been encouraging for years.
California’s steps also include the possible prohibition of the sale and distribution of polystyrene food-ware, also known as styrofoam. Styrofoam is a trademarked brand and is made from synthetic hydrocarbon polymer.
Polystyrene takes a very long time to degrade, and if it is not disposed of properly, it can seep chemicals into the environment and harm water sources. Manufacturing and production also create massive, hazardous waste and significantly contribute to Global warming. Some cities in California have already banned polystyrene, but the new plan hopes to prohibit it throughout California by 2023.
With the pandemic and increased use in food take-out, the demand for single-use plastic has skyrocketed. According to a study, the increase has made the already out of control global plastic problem even worse.
The study found that over 8 million tons of pandemic associate plastic have been generated globally. More than 25,000 tons have entered the oceans. Much of the plastic is due to medical waste and online shopping material. Debris is accumulating on beaches and coasts, and the impact on the environment will be and already is devastating.
Sometimes it may feel like it’s too late to help this growing problem, but we can’t think like this. We still have a chance to make it right and make an effort to help the environment. Californians will have the opportunity to pass an initiative in November that would require all single-use plastic packaging, containers, and utensils to be reusable, recyclable, or compostable by 2030. If passed, this could save a massive amount of harm done to the environment.
California’s plan is also dedicated to educating people about the issue. Many may not know the severity of plastic harm or what happens to their trash once they throw it out.
There has always been a push by plastic producers to put the burden on consumers to ensure plastic doesn’t enter the environment. This won’t help the problem, and these mass producers need to take more responsibility, which California’s plan will also consider.
Scientists with the Environmental Health News pointed out, “The total mass of plastics produced exceeds both the overall mass of all land and marine animals and the planetary boundary for these novel substances, moving us out of a safe operating space for humanity. Yet the industry continues to project growth, investing billions of dollars in new infrastructure and opposing national and now international efforts to curb both plastic production and Pollution.”
This comes days after the UN adopted a resolution to combat plastic pollution, which aims to unite countries to make a treaty to end the growing plastic Pollution issue.
The United States produces more plastic waste than any other country in the world. It’s about time that we started taking accountability for our actions, and with California being the most populated state in the United States, this is a great start. Hopefully, this plan will set the path for other states to educate about microplastics and make plans about combating Pollution.
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