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Resources on Plastics in the Environment (June 2022): Harms

By Margaret Manion


Of all the changes to the environment that have occurred over the previous century, the abundant presence of plastic is by far the most drastic. Plastic’s resistance to degradation (the cause of its durability), while making it a desirable material for many purposes, is also the chief cause of environmental problems. Plastics and the Environment, edited by R. M. Harrison and R. E. Hester, covers the tremendous growth in plastics production during the past six decades, types of plastics, and sources of plastics found in both terrestrial and marine environments, also discussing the effects on humans and wildlife of plasticizers and other additives involved in plastics manufacture. The challenges of plastics recycling are also examined. The consensus reached in this work is that while the current production, use, and disposal of plastics considered altogether are not sustainable, there is no one-size-fits-all solution, and a major aspect of the challenge is finding the most appropriate solution(s) for each aspect of the problem. Among the various harms discussed by Anthony Andrady in his comprehensive Plastics and Environmental Sustainability are impacts on human health and the environmental consequences of various disposal methods. He also addresses recovery of marine litter and provides many citations, some of which support popularly held beliefs about plastics while others contradict or dispel them.

Works Cited