We benefit from the advantages of plastics every day. But the properties of plastics that made them so popular for the last seventy years have turned out to be disastrous for many ecosystems. Plastics do not dissolve in water and do not decay. What plastic does do in the environment, though, is break down into smaller and smaller fragments. That includes microplastics, so small that they are no longer visible to the naked eye and can easily get into food chains.
United Nations Environment believes that plastic litter and microplastics are one of the biggest environmental problems that the world is facing. That problem has acquired a name too, plastic soup. The plastic soup is everywhere. Numerous animal species are affected by plastic: they are ingesting it, injuring themselves with it or suffocating on it. Humans too are now getting the plastic soup quite literally presented to them on a plate. Evidence of damage to health is accumulating.
The Plastic Soup Atlas of the World gives a thematically structured overview of the plastic soup issue worldwide in sixty richly-illustrated topics. The first part focuses on the causes and the second looks at possible solutions. The overall message is crystal clear: we must do everything we can to combat plastic pollution.
Michiel Roscam Abbing is political scientist who has been active in the battle against the plastic soup since 2011 with the Plastic Soup Foundation (PSF) in Amsterdam. He reports on scientific research and current developments on the PSF website, plasticsoupfoundation.org, and gives lectures about the plastic soup in the Netherlands and elsewhere. He has written a number of books.