Don’t you just hate all the plastic lying around in the ocean? Here is some good news! According to a recent study, the plastic promises to degrade a lot quicker than previously thought. Earlier, researchers believed that it would take thousands of years for it to degrade. However, scientists from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institutions have showed that these can degrade within decades. The study published in the Environmental Science and Technology Letters experimented with polystyrene.
This plastic is widely used in the world. Additionally, many policy makers take a strict view of legislating these plastics due to potentially horrendous consequences. However, the lead of the author of the study, Collin Ward hoped that this study would further the scientific understanding. He said, the persistence of polystyrene in the environment may be shorter. It is also far more complicated than previously believed.
An Ocean Full of Polystyrene
However, the researchers may have a lot to explain in the ensuing decades. Currently, polystyrene is regularly found in the world’s oceans since 1970s. Additionally, despite plastic’s transformation, it can remain invisible after degradation. In some cases, this may become more dangerous as research continues to lag behind in this area. Moreover, previous studies used a different set of assumptions to understand the breakdown of polystyrene. This study can peek new interests in our understanding of plastics too.
Degradation of Plastics
Microbes play an important role in the degradation of many living creatures and waste material. However, when it comes to polystyrene, these little guys slack off a little bit! Microbes can selective in in substances they choose to degrade. Polystyrene is a difficult target due the ring-based backbone of the material.
On the other hand, sunlight can take on the job and release the carbon bonds. Does it mean we will see a new waste process based on solar energy? We don’t know yet! But, new research can certainly offer new hopes!