How global warming is speeding up plastic pollution

There is a link between global warming and plastic pollution which feed on each other, creating a vicious circle that is lethal for the environment

Research conducted by the Royal Institute of Technology (KTH) in Sweden has unveiled a complex connection between global warming and plastic pollution, illustrating a “vicious cycle” where both phenomena mutually exacerbate each other.

How does this happen?

The increase in global temperatures accelerates the deterioration of plastic materials, necessitating their more frequent replacement. This, in turn, leads to a rise in carbon dioxide emissions, further contributing to global warming.

The degradation of plastics results in a wide range of environmental consequences, including the unreliability of food packaging and the accumulation of microplastics in waterways and fish habitats. Moreover, the release of volatile organic compounds and other hazardous substances, hastened by higher temperatures, poses a threat to the quality of air, soil, and water.

Battling the phenomenon

The report also highlights the combined effects of heat and humidity, both of which are on the rise due to global warming. The evaporation of moisture and the increase of water vapor in the atmosphere create adverse conditions for plastics, further aggravating their degradation.

To tackle this complex challenge, researchers emphasize the need for a global commitment across all sectors involved in the plastic lifecycle. This includes not only responsible production and use of plastics but also effective waste management and the development of sustainable alternatives.

It is critical to reduce greenhouse gas emissions stemming from the production and disposal of plastics by adopting more sustainable production practices and promoting the adoption of biodegradable and recyclable material-based solutions.

Furthermore, it’s essential to raise public awareness about the importance of reducing the use and disposal of plastic materials, encouraging more sustainable behaviors and habits. Effectively addressing the link between global warming and plastic pollution will require a coordinated and large-scale effort from the international community. Only through a collaborative approach will it be possible to mitigate the harmful effects of both phenomena and protect the environment for future generations.

Source: Nature Communications

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