The plastics life cycle
Plastic pollution is a design, production, consumption and disposal challenge that must be tackled across plastic’s entire life cycle. Many factors contribute to the issue, most obviously unsustainable consumption patterns, non-existent or ineffective legislation, inefficient waste management systems, and a lack of coordination between different sectors.
The impacts of plastic pollution on biodiversity and human health
Plastic pollution has adverse impacts on ocean ecosystems, the integrity of food supplies, and people’s livelihoods.
Entanglement and ingestion are the most common hazards for marine species, almost all of which – from microscopic zooplankton to the largest marine mammals – will come into contact with plastic waste during their lives. Entanglement in plastic ropes, lines and discarded fishing gear injures and kills all kinds of marine animals; while ingestion at every stage of the food chain can cause fatalities or have major impacts on physiological functions including nutrition, growth, behaviour and reproduction.
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Once microplastics and nanoplastics are ingested by marine animals they become part of the food web, and can ultimately enter the human food chain.
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