[Desde la Ciencia] Plástico hasta en la sopa

by Carmen Aggi Cabrera 900

Por: Óscar Cárdenas Hernández

oscar_cardenas19/septiembre/2016 Autlán, Jalisco. (LF)
En días pasados varios medios informativos daban cuenta de las medidas que Francia está tomando para reducir el uso de todos los plásticos, incluyendo las bolsas los vasos, los platos y los cubiertos que están hechos de ese material. Con esta nueva ley, Francia se convierte en el primer país del mundo que prohíbe el uso de plásticos y que promueve el uso de empaques y cubiertos hechos de material de origen biológico. Esta prohibición entró en vigor el pasado mes de julio y se espera que en el año 2020 el plástico sea eliminado del uso cotidiano en todo el país.

Aunque muchas organizaciones ecologistas aplauden esta nueva medida, las organizaciones que representan a comerciantes y empacadoras están en contra, ya que señalan que “esta medida puede afectar a los consumidores y viola las normas de la Unión Europea del libre movimiento de los bienes” (La Jornada, 12/09/2016), e inclusive están pidiendo a la Comisión Europea que se tomen medidas contra Francia por violar las leyes europeas.

¿Pero qué tanto plástico se utiliza en Europa como para que Francia haya tomado esta medida? Según el medio informativo en línea “The Local” (www.thelocal.fr) alrededor de 17 mil millones de bolsas son utilizadas cada año en ese país; de esta cantidad, unas 5 mil millones son entregadas en los supermercados y unas 12 mil millones se utilizan para frutas y verduras.

De acuerdo con el Instituto “Observatorio Mundial” (www.worldwatch.org) una persona que vive en Europa occidental o en Norteamérica consume alrededor de 100 kilogramos de plástico cada año, generalmente en alguna forma de empacado. En Asia las personas utilizan alrededor de 20 kilogramos por persona al año, aunque se espera que esta cantidad aumente con el desarrollo económico de algunos países de ese continente.

A nivel global se producen más de 300 millones de toneladas de plástico, y mucho de este material se va a los océanos. En el 2015 un grupo de investigadores publicó un artículo para la revista Science (www.sciencemag.org) en el que establecieron que de 4 a 12 millones de toneladas métricas de plástico llegaron a las costas en diferentes partes del mundo, esto es, alrededor del 1.5% a 4.5% de la producción global total. Sin embargo, hasta la fecha no se ha podido determinar a dónde va el resto de los plásticos que arrojamos a la basura.

Lo que sí es claro es que todo este plástico tiene un gran impacto ambiental, desde su producción hasta su desecho o disposición. Según una nota aparecida en el portal Scientific American (http://www.scientificamerican.com), los plásticos contribuyen con una amplia variedad de problemas ambientales, que incluyen:

1.- Los productos químicos que se adicionan a los plásticos son absorbidos por el cuerpo humano. Algunos de estos compuestos pueden alterar e sistema hormonal o causa otros problemas de salud.

2.- Los animales marinos pueden resultar heridos o envenenados al ingerir el plástico desechado (Figura 1).


Figura 1. Albatros muerto por ingerir plásticos (su estómago estaba lleno de este material). Imagen obtenida del sitio http://mrecycle.blogspot.mx.

3.- Los plásticos enterrados en basureros y rellenos sanitarios pueden liberar compuestos tóxicos que se filtran hasta los mantos freáticos, contaminando el agua que utilizamos para nuestro consumo.

En la próxima entrega hablaremos sobre los plásticos en México, y algunas medidas que podemos tomar para reducir la contaminación por estos materiales.

Para ver:

.- Oceans Today. Trash Talk: How Does Marine Debris Impact the Ocean, Animals And Me? (Los Océanos Hoy. ¿Cómo me Impactan los Desechos Marinos a Mí, al Océano y a los Animales?). Disponible en http://oceantoday.noaa.gov/trashtalk_impacts con la transcripción de la narración en español.

¡Nos leemos en la próxima!

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