This Article is From Apr 13, 2023

Experts Warn About China's 'Plastic Rocks', An Environmental Nightmare

The 'plastic rocks' were found in China's Heichi City. Experts said they were formed from the glut of plastic pollution floating in the ocean.

Experts Warn About China's 'Plastic Rocks', An Environmental Nightmare

Plastic embedded in the rock came from marine pollution.

Researchers in China have discovered a new form of plastic pollution: This films of plastic waste chemically bonded to rocks. The shocking discovery was made in Heichi City in China by a team of Tsinghua University in Beijing. This comes weeks after discovery of similar rocks in a remote Brazilian island was announced. The rocks were found on Trindade, a volcanic island off the coast of Brazil by geologist Fernanda Avelar Santos. She said the rocks were formed from the glut of plastic pollution floating in the ocean.

Now the latest discovery in China adds to scientists' growing recognition that plastics have become part of Earth's geology. A study detailing the discovery of these 'plastic rocks' has been published in Environmental Science and Technology.

"People in the twentieth and twenty-first century are creating new geological records," Deyi Hou, a soil and groundwater scientist at Tsinghua University, is quoted as saying about the discovery in Nature.

He said the plastic embedded in the rock came from the garbage accumulated in and around the creek. These include polypropylene films, used to make plastic bags, and polyethylene films, used by farmers to cover crops.

India is also facing the problem of plastic pollution. According to a recent World Economic Forum (WEF) study, India's contribution to plastic waste that is dumped into the world's oceans every year is a massive 60 per cent.

Experts are warning that stringent steps need to be taken before the situation goes out of hand. Shachi Chaturvedi, Public Information Assistant at UN India, said, "Plastics and residual microplastics are everywhere in our natural environment - in the foods we eat, water we drink, air we breathe, and even inside us. Plastic is now a part of the earth's fossil record and our current geological era. So much so, we have created a new marine microbial habitat called the Plastisphere. If we don't stop now, we surely won't leave a livable planet earth for future generations."

She stressed on the need to take immediate action and make ending plastic pollution a citizen's campaign. The UN expert also listed some steps to measure and manage plastic pollution in the country. These include encouraging the use of alternatives like biodegradable and reusable materials, increasing recycling and waste management by investing in advanced technologies, enforcing and monitoring existing laws by strengthening inspections and supporting community-based initiatives such as local organisations and grassroots movements.