Most types of plastic that we use every day are nearly non-degradable, and as time goes by they release many of their (often hormonally efficacious) additives into the environment. Then spread by wind, water or illegal waste disposal in the ocean, they are found throughout our entire planet – even in oceanic regions far from civilisation. Even today polar bears and beluga whales remain contaminated with plasticisers used in the 1960s and 70s, which, according to a study conducted by the WWF, impairs their capacity for reproduction.
The most significant problem is plastic’s high durability. A deadly ‘floating carpet’ of plastic has collected north west of Hawaii, which is the size of Central Europe.
Currently the only solution lies in recycling, Professor Michael Braungart suggests radical solutions, some of which are being taken up by well-known companies. No toxic materials should be used, and the individual components of a product should be separable from each other. But will this be in time?