World Environment Day 2018 – ‘Plastic, not so fantastic.’

Have you ever wondered what life would be like without plastic?  How did we survive before plastic?  Is it even possible?  Rhetorical, perhaps even ridiculous, you may think but today, World Environment Day, this is a subject that should command our attention.

Plastic is one of those things that such a ubiquitous part of our lives it’s hard to imagine life without it.

You eat with it, you eat off it, you drink with it, you drink out of it, you often sit on it and at it, it provides shelter, it helps you get clean, it helps you do and make things, it covers just about everything you buy whether its food, drink, implements and appliances large and small.

But there is a sinister side to this omnipresent chemical compound… and we should be concerned.  According to the UN, one million plastic drinking bottles are bought every minute and we use enough plastic bags each year (five trillion) that if you were line them up side-by-side, they would encircle the world 7 times!

And what’s more, half of all plastic is designed to be used only once — and then thrown away.

We see the problem every day.  Our job is to remediate or clean up contaminated soil, waste and water to make places safer and healthier and we’ve been doing this for nearly 20 years.   We are finding more plastic contamination with every year that passes.  The amount of plastic in some of the sites we clean up is simply disgusting.  So it is hardly surprising to discover that if current trends continue, our oceans will contain more plastic than fish by 2050!

We are literally drowning in plastic.

Governments and business here and around the globe are acting but need to do more.  It’s encouraging to see most of Australia and a growing number of countries around the world moving to ban plastic bags and other single-use plastic items.   But if we’re serious the ban should be universal.

But the truth is, this problem is so serious it is going to take many many years to reverse, which is why today is so important.

World Environment Day is a reminder that you too can help prevent and stop this problem – at least from becoming worse.  The theme of this year’s campaign is ‘beating the plastic’… simply put, if you can’t reuse it, refuse it.  A simple action but the future of our planet depends on it.

Richard Giles
National Technology Manager – Remediation