What products are microplastic free?
Which of the following does not contain microplastics?
① Tires ② Chewing gum ③ Synthetic fiber clothes ④ None
Answer: ④ none
Unfortunately, it is difficult to find something that does not contain plastic ingredients among the things that are closely related to our daily lives. Plastic is everywhere, from clothing to food to vehicles, and microplastics are released during use and after disposal. Microplastics are plastics less than 5 mm in size.
Let’s look at the tires first. Tires are not simply made of rubber. It is a petrochemical product made by mixing synthetic rubber with polystyrene, a kind of plastic, and numerous chemicals. As tires wear on the road, they generate microplastics. Although the rate of wear and the degree of diffusion vary depending on traffic volume and speed, microplastics measured in the road atmosphere contain a significant amount of microplastics from tires.
Not just atmosphere. It is also a cause of marine pollution. According to a research paper published in the journal Nature Communications in July 2020, it is estimated that 100,000 tons of microplastics flow from tires into the sea every year. In a 2019 study, it was also analyzed that most of the 7 trillion microplastics that flow into the San Francisco Bay annually came from tires.
The same goes for gum. People often think that chewing gum is food, so it is far from plastic, but the main ingredient of gum is polyvinyl acetate. It is a kind of plastic synthesized from petroleum and is also called vinyl acetate resin. If chewing gum containing polyvinyl acetate is simply thrown away on the roadside, it hardens and then comes off as pieces of plastic and flows into rivers and seas through sewers, causing ecological disturbance.
Recently, plastic-free chewing gum using plant-based natural materials has been developed and sold, but most of the popularly sold chewing gum is still made of plastic ingredients. This is why when you throw away chewing gum, wrap it in tissue paper and throw it in the trash.
how about clothes Clothing is considered a major cause of marine microplastics. Clothes made of synthetic fibers such as polyester and polypropylene, rather than natural fibers, emit microplastics due to friction every time they are washed. In particular, polyester fiber accounts for about 60% of the global apparel market. It is known that as many as 700,000 pieces of microplastic are lost every time a piece of clothing made of plastic fibers is washed.
Microplastics emitted through laundry wastewater disturb the ecosystem and eventually come up on our table along the food chain. Synthetic fiber clothes that we buy and wear according to mood or season pollute the environment and eventually come to our table.