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Be wary of “white pollution”: only 10% of plastics are recycled every year worldwide

author:管理员 Publication time:2018-11-08 09:45:09 Read: 1247 second
"White pollution has not been ignored."

“Different from other wastes, the decomposing microorganisms in the environment cannot digest the chemical bonds that link the monomers in the plastic, so they cannot be re-decomposed into a single form. In other words, once the plastic is synthesized, there is no more way to go!” At the International Bio-Polyester Conference held recently, Chen Guoqiang, Chairman of the General Assembly, Professor of Tsinghua University and Director of the Center for Synthetic and Systems Biology, once again called on people to be alert to the “white pollution” caused by plastic waste.


According to the latest statistics: At present, there are only 120 million tons of disposable plastic products in the world each year, of which only 10% are recycled, and about 12% are burned, and more than 70% are discarded into soil, air and ocean. The amount of agricultural film remaining in China's soil is as high as 350,000 tons per year, and the residual film rate is 42%. A large amount of agricultural film remains in the farmland layer of 0-30 cm in farmland, which poses a great threat to agricultural production and food safety.
"The "white pollution" of the ocean is particularly serious."
Among them, plastic waste is the most obvious pollution to the ocean. According to "Science" magazine, 8 million tons of plastics are washed into the sea every year, forming a "plastic waste island republic" equivalent to the French territory. What is even more frightening is that the large amount of plastic particles they produce enter the human body through seafood and sea salt, causing great health hazards.
At this moment, a large amount of plastic waste is being poured into the ocean from the earth. According to data from the World Economic Forum, an estimated 150 million tons of plastics are floating in the world's oceans, and 8 million tons of new plastic waste will flow into the ocean each year, creating new sources of microplastics.
Once these plastics fall into the water, they will be broken down into pieces unless they are washed ashore. The smallest piece of debris is less than 5 mm wide and is called "microplastic". There are many homes for microplastics: some float in Alaska-sized plastic debris circulation, and rotate in the Pacific Ocean; others sink into the water, distributed in different depths depending on density, and spread throughout the world; Some are ingested by marine organisms such as fish and shellfish, and indirectly by other animals such as birds and humans.
On October 22nd, at the European Gastroenterology Conference in Vienna, researchers announced that they had detected microplastics in every stool sample from a subset of the world's subjects. “In everyday life, plastics are everywhere, and people have many ways to get in touch with plastics,” says Philipp Schwable, a gastroenterologist at the Vienna Medical University.
From an ecological point of view, microplastics are already penetrating into human food webs, which has caused concern among gastroenterologists. Once the microplastics invade the human diet, they have invaded the human stomach and intestines. Chemical substances that cannot be degraded or refractory in nature are gradually enriched in organisms through the extension of the food chain and the increase in trophic levels, and the concentration is increasing. Studies have shown that microplastics can penetrate into the blood, lymphatic system and liver of living things, all of which are present in the internal organs, which have potentially harmful effects on the regulation of animal organs, intestines and hormones, thus posing a huge health hazard.
"Agricultural "white pollution" hidden danger"

Not only is the white pollution of the ocean serious, but the land is not spared. Especially in the agricultural production closely related to people's lives, the pollution of the abandoned agricultural film (agricultural plastic film) is more serious.


In China, although China has promulgated national standards since 1992: the thickness of the film is 0.008 ± 0.003 mm. However, in actual production and application, in order to reduce costs, the 0.005 mm thick mulch film has become the mainstream product in the Chinese market, and this ultra-thin mulch film is difficult to recycle or degrade.
A study showed that when the amount of mulch in the soil reached 120 kg per hectare, the yield of wheat, corn and cotton would fall by 17.8%, 13.2% and 16%, respectively. At present, due to the continuous promotion of machine-made cotton, the penetration of the film into cotton has become an important factor affecting the quality of cotton, which will result in difficulty in printing and dyeing cotton and a decrease in the commodity rate. In addition, many crop straws are important livestock feeds. For example, peanut straw is a very high-quality feed. However, in recent years, after the cultivation of peanuts in parts of Shandong and northeast China, the problem of inclusions in peanut straw is very prominent. It is a plastic film peanut, and the people are afraid to use their straw as a feed.
In Europe and Japan, which use the same large area of plastic film, there is no "white pollution" problem. In addition to the laws of Japan and Europe, polyethylene film must be recycled and treated according to industrial waste, and its film thickness is mostly high-cost, high-strength film between 0.018 and 0.03 mm, which is easy to recycle.
On October 24 this year, the European Parliament also officially approved the use of disposable plastic products from 2021 to alleviate the pollution of the ecological environment caused by increasingly serious plastic waste. This heralds the importance and urgency of controlling white pollution.
In October 2017, China has issued a new revised mandatory national standard “Polyethylene Blow Molding for Agricultural Floor Covering Film”. Compared with the 1992 version of the standard, the change is mainly manifested as “three improvement and one mark”, that is, the film thickness, mechanical properties, weather resistance and obvious position mark on the product certificate are “recycled after use to reduce environmental pollution”. Typeface. It is specifically stated that the film thickness should not be less than 0.01 mm, and it is stipulated that since the new national standard was officially implemented on May 1, 2018, the film that has not reached the standard is no longer allowed to be produced and sold.
If agricultural white pollution is not strictly controlled, the results will directly affect people's life and health. It is often said that the causal cycle, whether it is white pollution of the ocean or agriculture or other pollution, we can easily see that if humans continue to produce a large amount of plastic waste, through the ecological cycle, the ultimate harm to human beings.
"Resolve "white pollution" from the root cause"
The most important reason for the “white pollution” caused by plastic waste is the chemical nature of plastics. Plastics are high molecular polymers formed by polymerization of monomers, such as polyethylene, polystyrene, etc., which are difficult to digest and degrade.
To completely control the spread of white pollution and reduce the harm of plastic waste to humans, we must fundamentally solve the problem. Therefore, how to achieve rapid degradation of plastics and no pollution to the environment has become the direction of research in many countries.
A few days ago, Academician Wang Yuhua, an academician of the Chinese Academy of Engineering and a professor of China Agricultural University, repeatedly mentioned the seriousness and urgency of white pollution at the two diatom micro-nano biomaterial conference held by Thale Energy. At the same time, he also advocated the application of diatom micro-nano biomaterials, adding diatom frustules to plastics to achieve rapid degradation of plastics. The diatom shell is used as a modified material of plastic, and the modified diatom shell is added to the plastic to completely degrade the plastic within one year without any harm to the environment.
Thale Energy has established a team of experts for this research project and is led by Academician Wang Yuhua to research and develop two topics of plastic degradation and diatom internet of things. If the technology is successfully applied, it will have great value and significance to the whole society.
Since the founding of New China, there has never been a period of emphasis on green development and the emphasis on ecological civilization. "We must adhere to the harmonious symbiosis between man and nature" and "new approach to treating the ecological environment like life" has become the consensus of the whole society. From going to the country and down to the individual, we should all establish a strong sense of environmental protection. Don't think that these pollutions seem to be far away from us. In fact, they are affecting our lives and health through another form.
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