Effects of Plastic Pollution

Since 1902, Stokes Tea & Coffee has remained a family run business that is concerned for the future, respects the environment and buys responsibly. Buying better and inspiring change in our people, our partners, our customers, our community and our business.

Taking responsibility for the impact of our own operations, we support all campaigns that aim to make our communities and cities plastic, water bottle free. Plastic pollution is destroying marine life, entering the food chain and ultimately our bodies.

The demand for plastic is continuously growing, but its durability is the reason why it is so widespread in the oceans. Plastic debris in our oceans is a truly global challenge and one that requires a response at local, national and international levels. 

Plastic Pollution Statistics 

It is important to know the facts and statistics when it comes to plastic pollution, as these show just how important it is. We have put together some stats for you below.

  • People buy 1 million plastic bottles each minute or 20,000 per second and the majority of the bottles will either end up in landfill or the ocean. Less than 50% of these are being recycled and only 7% of them turn into new bottles.
  • The people who work on Blue Planet 2 say there was rarely a time when they were filming that they didn’t come across plastic in the sea. 
  • Nearly 700 marine species have been reported to either ingest or become entangled in plastic. The effects can be fatal, and experts have said that some of it is already finding its way into the human food chain.

Plastic Pollution Problems

Plastics contain chemicals (added to increase their durability) that, when eaten, leach out and disrupt normal hormonal function. Manufacturers often add different chemicals to plastics to give them the exact characteristics like flexibility, strength and reduced production cost. These components can include phthalates, bisphenol A (BPA), polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDE) and tetrabromobisphenol A (TBBPA) — all of which alter hormone expression in animals and humans.

The Resin Identification Code 

A classification system called the Resin Identification Code describes the type of plastic resin used to make a container or bottle ranging from #1 to #7.

PET, PETE (Polyethylene Terephthalate)

Properties: Clarity, barrier to gas and moisture, heat resistant, toughness

Used for: Clear soft drink and beverage bottles, food packaging

Considered safe although repeated use can increase risk of leaching and bacterial growth and difficult to decontaminate

HDPE (High-Density Polyethylene)

Properties: Stiff plastic – Toughness, resistance to moisture and chemicals, ease of processing

Used for: Detergent and cosmetic bottles, industrial wrapping and film, sheets, plastic bags

Low hazard – Re-usable, recyclable and no-leaching.

PVC (Polyvinyl chloride)

Properties: Soft and flexible – Versatility, toughness, resistance to grease, oil and chemicals

Used for: Cleaning product bottles, packaging film, credit cards, plumbing pipes

Known as poison plastic as contains numerous toxins that leach chemicals. NOT recommended for reuse for food, beverages or children.

LPDE (Low-density polyethylene)

Properties: Toughness, flexibility, ease of sealing, barrier to moisture

Used for: Cling film, plastic bags, flexible containers and food wrap

Low Hazard – Reusable but not always recyclable.

PP (Polypropylene)

Properties: Strength, toughness, versatility, barrier to moisture

Used for: Yoghurt and margarine pots, sweet and snack wrappers, medical packaging, shampoo bottles

Considered safe to reuse.

PS (polystyrene)

Properties: versatility, insulation, clarity, easily formed – sometimes called styrofoam

Used for: Disposable cups, cutlery, food boxes, packaging foam, egg cartons

Avoid – in high heat it can leach styrene, a probable carcinogen

Other (BPA, Polycarbonate)

Properties: Catch-all for other plastics, properties dependent on chemical make up

Used for: Baby bottles, CD’s, number plates, storage containers.

It is recommended to avoid #7 plastics, especially for storing food and liquid. The main issue is the hormone-disrupting chemical bisphenol A (BPA).

Facts About Plastic Water Bottle Pollution

Did you know that globally we drink more packaged water than we do milk or beer? Bottled water is the second-largest seller to carbonated drinks. It seems that the growth of bottled water has been driven mainly by consumers being worried about tap water quality which isn’t helped when bottled water companies promise a purer, healthier water product. 

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulates tap water and mandate that local water treatment plants provide city residents with a detailed account of tap water’s source and the results of any testing, including contaminant level violations.

These tests for harmful microbiological content in tap water happen several times a day and reveal where the water comes from, how it is treated and what contaminants it may contain. Bottled water companies have no such directives and the only test for these microbes once a week – a significant number of bottles have undergone almost no regulation or testing. Due to several factors, bottled water is clearly not a healthier or purer alternative to tap water. Tap water is plainly the more economical, and in many cases, the healthier choice.

Despite this, tap water does not remain without its problems and the concerns over the quality and safety of tap water that sparked the growth of the bottled water industry are still present. Tap water is nowhere free from contaminants and the most recent and innovative solution to the problems of low water quality has come about in the age of water filters.

Water filters remove more dangerous contaminants than any other purification method, and they are uniquely designed to work with tap water. The water they produce is not subject to phthalate contamination and they are able to remove cryptosporidium (a chlorine-resistant parasite) from drinking water, a feat that neither water treatment plants nor bottled water companies have yet managed.

Benefits of Using a Filter With Tap Water 

Better Tasting Water

Whilst chlorine is used to kill off bacteria and other microbes in drinking water, it can also affect both the taste and smell of tap water.

Great for Growing Kids

Chlorine and lead are both pollutants, among others, found in drinking water. Providing children with purer drinking water offers them a great start in life in terms of mental and physical development, particularly as their immune systems are developing.

Saves You Money

If you purchase bottled water, one of the key benefits of a water filter is that it will pay for itself and start saving you money very quickly.

Protects Immune System

Tap water often contains numerous organic and inorganic contaminants, from arsenic and fluoride to chlorine and a host of other unhealthy toxins, such as pesticides and industrial chemicals. Whilst water companies test rigorously for a whole range of factors, some toxins are unregulated, and others, whilst monitored and kept to a minimum, still exist in tap water. Long-term exposure to these contaminants can weaken your immune system, therefore, filtering your water helps to avoid the build-up of these toxins in your body.

Healthier Water

By removing the chlorine and its by-products from drinking water, you are avoiding any potentially harmful substances that could have adverse health effects.

Since filtered water negates the need to buy bottled water to consume at home, a water filter means less plastic bottle waste, making them a sustainable choice. Even if you tend to buy bottled water on the go, using a portable glass water bottle filled with filtered water from home is a far more eco-friendly and sustainable option.