Today, you can hardly look around you and not spot some item that is made entirely from plastic or has some plastic ingredient. This only proves that from its inception up to now plastic has managed to become popular building material of millions of useful items, but it is not perfect. Plastic has several disadvantages that prevent it from becoming universal building block of modern human civilization, and because of that many governments strictly control its use and create complex law that govern its creation, recycling and environmental impact of waste plastic and chemicals that are used in its creation.
Here are some of the biggest disadvantages of plastic:
Durability – Plastic is light, moldable, sturdy, and can have countless forms, but one of the most known features is its durability. Plastic is artificially created polymer compound which can survive many centuries before nature is able to degrade it (some degrade into basic ingredients and some only divide into very small pieces). This troublesome ability of plastic doesn’t have great immediate impact on our environment, but its continuous dumping into seas and land will eventually create problems for future generations. Even with all this durability, plastic products are not indestructible and it cannot be used as a basic building block for everything we need.
Environmental Harm – Ever increasing plastic production since 1950s managed to saturate world with waste plastic product that can cause big effects on our environment. Decomposing of plastic product can last from 400 to 1000 years with newer “degradable” compounds, but before that degradation can happen waste plastic will continue to clog our waterways, oceans, forests, and other natural habitats that are filled with animals who mistake dangerous plastic for food. Chemical dangers are also high, because both creation and recycling of plastic produce toxic materials of many kinds.
Chemical Risk – Not only that creation and recycling of plastic can cause serious environmental risk, but some of the additives that are infused in plastic can cause permanent harm to our metabolism. Chemicals such as phthalates and BPA are widely used as an additive that prevents degrading of plastic structure, but they also interfere with our natural hormone levels which can cause serious problems to both males and females (lower testosterone levels in men, and premature girl puberty).
Choking Hazard – Plastic is one of the most popular building materials for small items. This is most evident in toy industry, where vast majority of children toys is manufactured with plastic. These toys and small plastic objects of many uses can easily get into children’s hands (especially babies and toddlers) that unknowingly put them in their mouth. To prevent these serious accidents, governments have implemented detailed set of rules which force manufacturers to clearly label their plastic products and warn users of the possible chocking potential. Another problematic plastic product that can cause serious injuries or death are plastic bags (grocery or trash bags)who can sometimes end up wrapped around children faces, disrupting their breathing.