How Is Marine Life Affected by Plastic?
Eighty years ago, plastic was the greatest innovation of the time. Later, we all saw how our knack for throwaway culture and cheap products led to major eco-disasters. No one foresaw the detrimental impact of plastic pollution on waterways and marine life.
The Problem with Plastic
You cannot escape plastic. It’s in everything we use, from toiletries, clothes, computers, cars, food packaging, and furniture. It doesn’t decay, which is both virtue and vice of plastic.
Since it’s so durable, most plastic isn’t biodegradable. Plastic can take millions of years to decay, depending on its type. Unless it’s burned, which again causes air pollution, every piece that enters the ocean can leave an impact for centuries.
Why Does Plastic Affect Ocean so Badly?
Ocean serves as a huge sink, given its depth. Some part of the plastic in our seas comes from ships. Abandoned longlines and fishing nets also make up nearly 10% of plastic waste in the ocean. Similarly, marine aquaculture also aggravates the problem. The polystyrene foam that’s used to make frames for cages finds its way into the water.
However, most of the waste that enters our oceans is from land. High winds and extreme weather bring the waste there. Add to it the pollution along coastal areas that are hauled out by the waves.
The rivers carrying tons of waste and litter from landfills ultimately deposit into the ocean. For instance, ten global rivers, of which eight originate in Asia, carry the bulk of plastic that ends up in the oceans.
Besides winds, land, and rivers, the constant motion and harsh conditions cause the plastic to break into smaller particles called microplastics. These particles can disperse deeper and farther into the ocean affecting the marine habitat. Microplastic is also impossible to retrieve.
What’s the Plastic Impact on Marine Life?
The huge plastic dump from everywhere makes its way into the seas and affects hundreds of thousands of species. The plastic and fishing nets limit their ability to feed and move, causing infections and injuries.
There are other less visible effects besides the aforementioned apparent problems. For instance, whales, turtles, seabirds, and fish mistake plastic for food because it resembles the shape and color of their prey. Floating plastic accumulates algae and microbes that give the plastic an appetizing odor.
Once marine animals ingest plastic can cause intestinal blockages or pierce their internal organs. It leads to starvation because their stomachs are crammed with plastic making marine animals believe they’re full.
What Can You Do?
You can make a difference by reducing single-use plastic. Opt for safer and greener options if you’re operating in the food and beverage industry. At Custom Cup Factory, we offer packaging solutions, paper products, and food service disposables to businesses.