Plastic pollution can alter habitats and natural processes, reduce the capacity of ecosystems to adapt to climate change and directly affect the livelihoods, food production capacities and social well-being of millions of people. Plastic pollution in the ocean has a devastating impact on marine life and ecosystems. The most obvious is the damage that plastic objects cause to animals when they come into contact with them or ingest them, including asphyxiation, entanglement, lacerations, infections and internal injuries. Plastic pollution has a direct and deadly effect on wildlife.
Thousands of seabirds and sea turtles, seals and other marine mammals die every year after ingesting plastic or becoming trapped in it. Endangered wildlife, such as the Hawaiian monk seal and the Pacific loggerhead turtle, are among the nearly 700 species that feed on plastic garbage and are trapped in it. Whether because the mass of plastic has displaced animals or because related toxins have poisoned them, plastic pollution causes great damage to the world's ecosystems. While solving the problem of plastic pollution may seem as easy as recycling or cleaning empty bottles, the truth is that the plastic that causes the pollution can vary in size, from large to microscopic.
New technologies allow us to capture larger marine debris, but it's practically impossible to reach small plastic and microplastic objects, especially when they are found deep in the ocean. Plastic pollution has become one of the most pressing environmental problems, as the rapid increase in the production of disposable plastic products exceeds the world's capacity to address them. The Environmental Protection Agency is asking the government to regulate plastics as pollutants under the Clean Water Act and will continue to push for plastic pollution to be treated as the hazardous waste that it is. If you live next to a sea or river, you can volunteer to pick up trash in your local community, thus eliminating plastics from waterways and preventing them from reaching the ocean in the first place.
There are many NGOs and non-profit organizations that rely on donations to develop their projects and research to reduce and eliminate plastic from the ocean. Remember that, since plastic doesn't break down easily (if it ever does), recycling plastic means it's still plastic, just that it's used for a different purpose. Unfortunately, plastic is so durable that the EPA reports that “all the pieces of plastic that have ever been manufactured still exist. Because plastic is such a persistent material, the ecological, economic and ecotoxicological effects of plastic pollution are all long-term.
However, this industry has contributed to the problem of plastic pollution in the oceans in several ways.