Plastic is a material with many advantages. But when plastic ends up in the wrong place it becomes an environmental hazard. The way we use and re-use plastics – and the different degrees of corporate and individual responsibility in these matters – are all part of our Plastic Karma.
Good and bad
Different plastics are used in an enormous range of products, from toys to spaceships, due to their relatively low cost, manufacturing ease and versatility. Certain plastics have also replaced many traditional materials. But when plastic end up in the wrong place it becomes an environmental hazard. Plastics are durable and degrade very slowly. The molecular bonds that make plastic so durable also make it equally resistant to natural degradation processes. Additionally, the manufacturing of plastics often creates large quantities of chemical pollutants.
The confusion over what we can and cannot recycle continues to confuse consumers. Plastics are especially troublesome, as different types of plastic require different processing to be re-used as raw material. Another recycling barrier is the widespread use of dyes, fillers, and other additives in plastics, which makes recycling even more difficult. Additives are used less in beverage containers and plastic bags, allowing them to be recycled more efficiently.
photo by B.E.A.C.H
The Plastic Patches
Today plastic debris greatly threatens vulnerable marine habitats around the globe. The ”Plastic vortex” is an accumulation of plastic debris swept into the Pacific – directly from beaches, river mouths or waste discarded at sea – and carried by currents into a swirling pattern to a spot between Hawaii and the U.S. mainland. Some scientists estimate it to be twice the size of Texas. The Pacific Plastic Patch isn't the only marine waste dump. Almost all oceans have plastic gyres of their own. The best solution is simply to stop adding to them by using less plastic and by finding ways to make the recycling process more effective. Electrolux aims to raise public awareness of the issue by gathering plastics from marine environments from a number of sites in the world. The collected plastic is sorted, washed, processed and used to produce a limited number of concept vacuum cleaners. The name of this quest is: Vac from the Sea