It can take hundreds of years for plastic to degrade alone, but nature may already have answers to our problem. For some organisms, plastic debris offers a food source; for many others, a literal life raft. When 8 to 10 million metric tons of plastic end up in the ocean each year, some of it provides a home to entire biological communities.
The WHO estimates that one in six people will experience infertility in their lifetime. Further, we have seen a dramatic decrease of almost 50% in both male sperm count and female conception rates in the past 50 years. This decrease can be largely attributed to our increasing exposure to chemicals in our environment known as Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals.
Aquatic systems, by their nature, distribute pollutants widely and effectively. Port Phillip Bay is currently impacted by a range of introduced pollutants and its long-term viability needs to be reassessed. New standards and technologies should be reconsidered, and system-wide thinking applied to the management of our limited water resources; particularly in a time of climate change and population growth. Business as usual will *not* be the solution.
Australia still uses dozens of chemicals that are banned in other countries, including the UK and USA. These chemicals are banned because they’re toxic to humans, animals or the myriad other plants and animals that inhabit our planet with us. Consider the thousands of litres of inorganic chemicals in white plastic bottles that we see lining the ‘cleaning’ aisle of the supermarket. Treated or untreated, your sewerage and waste ends up in the Bay.