Topic 2 Ecological disadvantages and benefits

The ecological disadvantage of the linear economy is that the production of goods is at the expense of the productivity of our ecosystems. Excessive pressure on these ecosystems jeopardises the provision of essential ecosystem services, such as water, air and soil cleaning (Michelini, Moraes et al., 2017).

All three steps of the “take-make-dispose” mentality affect ecosystem services in different ways. The collection of raw materials leads to high energy and water consumption, emissions of toxic substances and disruption of natural capital such as forests and lakes. Product formation is also often accompanied by high energy and water consumption and toxic emissions. Eventually, when these products are discarded, space is taken up from natural areas and toxic substances are often also emitted (PBL, 2018b).

A lot of plastic is only used for a short period of time, so you can quickly go through the take-make-dispose step-by-step plan. As a result, more than 300 million tonnes of new plastic are produced worldwide each year. Of this, 5 million tonnes ends up in the oceans. This consists of plastic waste that is dumped on land, in the sea or in the sewer system.

Most of this plastic is originally dumped on land, but washes to the sea via rivers and canals. Another category is microbeads. These are tiny granules of plastic that are used in care products, such as shampoos and scrubs. Eventually, the plastic is divided into smaller particles by degradation and fragmentation. Toxic substances may be released during this process. In addition, all kinds of animals see the plastic waste and the microbeads for food. In this way, the plastic disturbs the food chain of fish, which can also damage our own health. In this way, the production of plastic in the “take-make-dispose” step-by-step plan harms the supply of fish as an ecosystem service for the oceans and seas (Plastic Soup Foundation, 2019).