Plastic pollutes at every step
Long before it reaches the environment, plastic harms people and the planet. Our plastic obsession has serious consequences from production to disposal.
Plastics are treated as a product that miraculously appears from nowhere and goes to nowhere. Few of us think about where our plastic comes from or where it ends up after we throw it “away.” In reality, plastic causes serious problems at every stage of its life.
Plastic begins as fossil fuels like oil and natural gas. That means that the health and climate impacts of oil and gas extraction and transportation¹ are also part of the lifecycle of plastic. Next, these fuels are converted into the chemical ingredients for plastic at plants that release a slew of toxic emissions into the communities in which they are built² – resulting in higher rates of asthma, cancer, and other conditions³.
Many of the plastics we interact with include other chemical additives or coatings. These additives can leach out of plastic and into humans, causing even more health consequences⁴.
Ultimately, a small percentage of plastic gets recycled. The rest ends up in landfills, in the environment, or being burned. Whether on land or in the ocean, plastic pollution threatens the stability and biodiversity of whole ecosystems, from the top⁵ to the bottom of the food chain⁶.