It's likely that every person reading this has used a plastic bottle at some point in their life. Plastic, in recent decades, has become an item of convenience and the surge in plastic bottle use has accompanied a desire for bottled water as we modernise our lifestyle.
Several recent reports indicate the urgent global situation associated with the world's plastic use. Two statistics in particular stand out. One, that globally humans buy a million plastic bottles per minute. The second, 91% of all plastic is not recycled.
Plastic bottles are commonly made from polyethylene terephthalate (Pet), which take 400 years to naturally decompose, but is highly recyclable.
On geologic timescales, 400 years is not a significant amount of time, and we may believe that we can just wait until the bottles naturally decompose. However, there are two serious issues with this; 1. There are no signs of decreasing plastic use, meaning the plastic decomposition clock will constantly be reset and 2. We need to understand how this increase in plastic waste globally will impact other systems and their function.
Most plastic, bottles included, ends up in either the ocean or in landfill. Find out how you can help the critically endangered orangutan.