Updated: Nov 12, 2020
Combating plastic pollution and helping the marine environment with the innovation of seaweed and seashell plastics
Current Global Issue
In this day and age, we have been hearing a lot about the importance of
conserving the environment. To achieve this aim, a lot of activities, projects are being carried out to help combat rising sea levels, greenhouse gas emissions and scarcity of natural resources and most importantly, pollution.
Pollution can be in the form of land, air, and water. Over the years, pollution
has increased at the fastest pace ever recorded and has brought tremendous harm to the biosphere. Since, 71% of Earth’s surface is covered with water, which makes up majority of the Earths composition, it is essential to keep our oceans and waters clean, if not a lot of problems can be faced in the years to come. Water pollution has been significantly growing rapidly throughout the years as well and the main cause of this is because of the disposal of commercialised plastic.
According to the United Nations Joint Group of Experts on the Scientific Aspects of Marine Pollution, also known as (GESAMP), it has been recorded that plastic makes up to about 60% to 95% of water pollutants. Currently, it has been recorded that a total of 18 billion pounds of plastic waste flows into the oceans every year (Parker,2018). There has been a lot of commotion regarding what has to be done and what has to be changed. However, it is time for less talk and more action. Making changes to rules to make them more sustainable is not the cure however implementing them and making use of what we already have should be the cure to the current water pollution problem that the world is
facing right now. After a lot of research and study, it has been proven that seaweeds and shells could be the next future plastic.
How will shells replace plastic?
The more environmental unique selling point of alternative plastic
products is that it is bio-degradable, a quality which normal plastic will not be able to have even in the future. In an average year, a total of 6 to 8 metric tons of shells are wasted. Shells, specifically (Nephrops norvegicus) is a rich source of chitin and chitosan, which helps is to become a bio-degradable product. Chitin is a polymer, which means it is a molecular chain made out of repeating units.
Plastics are also made up of polymers, the similar molecular chains made out of repeating units. Shells make up about 15-40% of chitin, which makes it a highly desirable alternative to use it for plastic.
How will seaweeds be the next alternative source of plastics?
After a lot of research and studies done globally, it has also come to attention that seaweeds can also be an alternative source for plastics. Seaweeds produce a bio-plastic polymer that is called a Polyhydroxyalkanoate (PHA), which is also commonly found in plastics. Since, the growth and optimum conditions for seaweed growth is not There are many different types of seaweeds that can be found in many parts of the world, therefore making it a readily available source on a global level.
It is a great innovation to come up with different resources to make bio- degradable plastics however it is also important to know that awareness and implementation comes hand in hand. Currently, it is not only about making the right and affordable choice however it is also important to make a sustainable and environmentally friendly choice. The importance of seaweed and seashell plastics will definitely be being about aa sharp decrease in the amount of water pollution but also will reduce the deaths of marine animals every year.
Do your part, and the world will give you enough to take care of yourself.