Canadian scientist: Ceasing plastic production is the only way to save the planet
Single-use plastics have become so pervasive in our world that the only way to stop them is to cease producing plastic, according to a Canadian scientist who studies microplastics.
Dr. Max Liboiron is the director of the Civic Laboratory for Environmental Action Research in St. John’s, Newfoundland.
She is dedicated to cleaning up the mess the plastics industry has left and continues to deposit on our lands and in our oceans, especially the microplastics that result when those single-use plastics break down in our environment, which are killing marine wildlife from birds to whales.
Liboiron builds devices that collect microplastics. She builds them inexpensively so that anyone could afford one if they want clean up their own corner of the map.
The problem is that plastics are burying us. Plastic waste can be found in every corner of the world, even in the most remote places. We can’t escape it. In fact, it’s even in our own bodies and wreaking havoc on our health.
We could ramp up our recycling efforts, but single-use plastics are unrecyclable, which is why wealthy developed nations ship it off to developing nations like Malaysia, which are getting so sick and tired of taking in our trash they are sending it back to us.
In fact, recycling is so ineffective when it come to dealing with plastic that Liboiron says the only way to stop plastics is to cease production of them.
“The only real mode of attack is to deal with the heavy decrease in the production of plastics, as opposed to dealing with them after they’ve already been created,” she said. “Your consumer behaviors do not matter, not on the scale of the problem. On the scale of personal ethics, yes. Recycling has skyrocketed [with] no impact on the scale of plastic production whatsoever. Really it’s the cessation of production that will make the big-scale changes.”
Indeed, ending plastic production and focusing on dealing with the excess would help us clean up the planet without having to worry about new plastics.
Liboiron also suggests that restricting the plastic industry’s access to land to dispose waste would force them to change. In short, produce plastics that are recyclable.
“[The plastics industry] assumes that household waste will be picked up and taken to landfills or recycling plants that allow plastic disposables to go ‘away.’ Without this infrastructure and access to land, Indigenous land, there is no disposability,” she said.
It makes sense, and it’s probably the only real way to solve the problem. The question is will our society rise up and force the plastics industry to shut down? If not, the problem will only get worse.
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