Plastic sheets are being thrown around as a cheap and versatile way to keep things clean.
But the plastic used in these products can be a dangerous material for both humans and wildlife.
A new report says the plastic sheeting found in Australia’s plastic bins is not just a cheap, convenient solution for cleaning up the environment, it can also be a cause for concern.
Key points:The plastic bags that litter bins are found to be an environmentally hazardous product, researchers warn”Plastic bags found to have the highest level of plastic debris, a level higher than those found in litter bins,” says the report”Plastics from plastic bags are found in a range of other household items including paper towels, toothbrushes, cleaning products and cosmetics, while the same products also contained other types of plastic such as plastic pipe cleaners, dental floss and metal foil.”
The report, published by the Wilderness Institute, found that plastic bags contain more than 80 per cent of the plastics that make up Australia’s litter bins.
It said plastics from plastic bag litter are found not just in bins but also in household items.
It found that “furniture, furniture and accessories” were more likely to contain plastic bags than non-plastic bag litter.
The report says that when plastic bags were used in Australia in the 1970s, they were often dumped in rivers or streams where the animals could pick them up and eat them.
The paper was collected and analyzed by the University of Queensland’s Sustainable Plastic Project, which was funded by the Commonwealth.
Its results showed that between 1973 and 2007, plastic bags collected in Australia dropped from around 60 to 20 per cent.
“It’s pretty staggering,” study co-author and Environment and Water Quality Authority of Queensland (EWQ) chief executive Andrew Williams said.
“You could see that the plastics from these bins were starting to degrade in the river.”
We’ve seen them degrade in our rivers and lakes and we’ve seen that from the sea to the oceans, we’re seeing that plastic is getting into all of these waterways.
“He said the plastics could also end up in water bodies where humans and marine life could be swimming and eating it.”
The plastics in the water are just floating around,” Mr Williams said, “they’re not being washed away.””
There’s an enormous amount of plastic that we’re collecting in our waterways, the plastics we’re dumping into our rivers, and we’re not taking the appropriate steps to remove that plastic.
“The EWQ found that the vast majority of plastic bags from Australia’s trash bins are recycled or reused.
However, it also found that about 20 per-cent of these recycled plastic bags end up on the Australian soil and could be a threat to native species.
The study found that plastics from the recycled plastic bag could also be an environmental hazard.”
There are many species that are affected by the plastic,” Mr Richards said.”[We’re finding] plastic is the leading contributor to plastic pollution.
“Mr Williams said the EWQ report also highlighted how plastic was being used in Australian packaging.”
When you take these plastic bags and put them in a container, it’s the same plastic bag that is sitting on the packaging and it’s sitting on our beaches, on our roads, on the roadsides,” he said.
The EWq said there were about 1,000 plastic bags in Australia at the end of 2011, and they were used for a variety of products, including detergent, detergent wipes, cleaning agents and food packaging.
The company’s research also found about 1 per cent had been found in the environment.”
Our research indicates that there is a huge amount of waste in the oceans from plastic,” he added.”
Plants, invertebrates, fish and marine animals have all been impacted by the use of plastic.
“These plastics can contaminate the environment and have been linked to the destruction of marine ecosystems.”
“We know that plastic has a strong impact on marine ecosystems, it has been linked with the extinction of many species of fish and it has also been linked in some cases to the rise in diseases that can be found in many of the species that we eat and drink.”