According to some estimates, there will be no more plastic than fish in the world’s oceans and seas by 2050. Already today, there are entire continents of plastic particles in the oceans, which together are estimated to weigh an incredible 150 million tons.
In addition to larger pieces of plastic visible to the eye, microplastics or pieces of plastic that are not visible to the human eye pose an even greater danger. They accumulate, among other things, in fish, shellfish, and other organisms that humans consume.
Every minute, the world is supposed to throw as much plastic into the sea as it would put in a big garbage truck. By 2030, the current rate of waste generation and disposal is expected to double.
There is no precise definition for microplastics, but experts agree that all plastic particles smaller than 5 mm can be classified in the field of microplastics and are difficult to see with the naked eye. Plastic particles smaller than 1 micrometer belong to the group of nanoplastics; such small particles are extremely difficult to detect and therefore even less known.
We know primary and secondary microplastics. The first is found, for example, in cosmetic products such as various peelings and toothpastes, it enters the environment through rinsing. Primary microplastics also include particles that are deposited in nature due to abrasion (such as tires) or during washing (especially synthetic clothing). Secondary microplastics are formed by the physical or chemical decomposition of larger pieces of plastic, such as plastic packaging and the like.
To more effectively control plastic emissions into the environment, the European Parliament approved a ban on single-use plastics until 2021. Disposable plastic utensils, cotton swabs, straws and mixing sticks are expected to be banned by the end of 2021 at the latest.