Poisoning the World With Plastic

Plastic is Killing Everything

The effect of plastic is devastating this planet as wildlife feeds on it, oceans and land are polluted by it, it takes forever to break down and it is in every home, business, forms of transport and everywhere else. Recycle and it attains a fresh life. Burn it and the air is poisoned with toxic fumes that we breathe in. Dispose of it in other ways and there is always a cost.

When the totally synthetic plastic was invented in 1907, by Belgium’s Leo Baekeland, it was hailed as somewhat of a miracle. During the period between the two world wars companies were into improving their products with his plastic, called Bakelite. This was created by combining phenyl with formaldehyde. It is a non-conductor of electricity and heat and was used extensively in industry and domestic appliances. Telephone casings, radios, pipe stems, children’s toys, kitchen ware and jewellery.

Many of these things are still around today in collections and according to Wikipedia Bakelite “was designated a National Historical Chemical Landmark by the American Chemical Society in recognition of its significance as the world’s first synthetic plastic.”

Plastics are mostly derived from petro-chemicals and other things may be added. Nothing is added to plastics used with food but additives can range up to 50% for electronic purposes while the average is around 20% (as noted in Wikipedia)

Plastic bags are made from polyethylene (or polythene) which is manufactured from crude oil and natural gas. They were first introduced in 1957 while plastic bags in supermarkets came in around 1977 to replace paper bags, newspaper and other things, e.g. butcher’s paper. (This information from

Plastic type materials can be manufactured from cellulose and that is taking place now to offset the massive protests against synthetic plastics. What we need to be aware of, however, is that just about everything we buy is covered with, packed in, or made from a petro chemical plastic that will last in the environment for years to come.

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