Plastic is used in the manufacturing of many products and it has become part of our lives. Plastic makes our lives easier, but some types of plastic can be bad for the environment. Most plastics are made from petroleum products that are not biodegradable (they do not break down). This means that they remain intact for hundreds or even thousands of years after they were created. Once they enter landfills or stop being recycled, they can stay there indefinitely without breaking down into smaller pieces that would decompose naturally over time (what we call "biodegrading").
Non-biodegradable plastics are bad for the environment in several ways.
Plastic bags and bottles can be mistaken for food by animals and wildlife, which leads to animals choking on the plastic or starving when they eat the plastic thinking it's food, causing them harm and sometimes even death.
Plastic bags and bottles can be mistaken for food by fish, which causes harm to fish as well as death when they eat the plastic thinking it's food.
Plastic bags and bottles can be mistaken for food by birds that mistake them for worms or insects, causing birds to choke on them or starve when they eat them thinking they're worms or insects; either way birds can die because of this mistake made by humans who use non-biodegradable plastics instead of something else like paper bags/cardboard boxes/glass jars etcetera (all biodegradable).
Non-biodegradable plastics do not degrade in landfills or on the ground. The reason for this is that they are made up of chemical compounds and are not broken down by bacteria or fungi. Instead, these materials break apart into smaller pieces as time goes on, which can clog up waterways and eventually make their way into oceans. The process is slow, so it can take hundreds of years for these microscopic pieces to decompose completely into carbon dioxide, water and biomass (organic matter). Because non-biodegradable plastics do not decay quickly enough when left alone outside of landfills, they end up piling up at an alarming rate in our oceans and waterways around the world.
Non-biodegradable plastics can stick to other non-biodegradable plastics and stay at the landfill, and they can block drains.
Plastic bags can get stuck in other places besides the ocean. For example, they may become trapped in trees or trapped by birds who fly into them while trying to fly away from predators. These birds will die because of this.
The plastics that don’t biodegrade after 10 years are those most commonly used to make non-recyclable plastic bags and bottles. Unfortunately, these plastics are also often made with BPA and BPS—chemicals that can leach into food and water. Even when the plastic is properly recycled, it is still not safe for food packaging because it does not break down quickly enough.
There are some companies that have started using biodegradable plastics in their bottles or other containers but most of them just use a partial biodegradable material so they can still sell their products as “compostable” or “biodegradable” even though they aren't completely safe to put in your compost pile.
You may have noticed that plastic bags and other items labeled with recycling codes 6 and 7 do not biodegrade after 10 years. This is because these plastics are made using chemicals like bisphenol A (BPA) and bisphenol S (BPS), which make them more flexible. Unfortunately, these substances can also be harmful to wildlife and plants.
Animals mistake plastic bags and bottle caps for food, getting trapped inside them and dying.
Plastic bags, bottle caps, and other trash can look like food to animals that live in the ocean. A whale shark that swallowed a plastic bag had to be rescued by fishermen because it was unable to eat or swim properly. This can also happen with turtles which mistake plastic rings from six-pack soda containers for jellyfish, which are their primary source of food.
In conclusion, non-biodegradable plastics are bad for the environment. They can turn into microplastics, which can end up in your drinking water or even on your dinner plate! We need to be more aware of what we're putting into our bodies so we can make smarter choices about the future of our planet and ourselves.