A new study published in PLOS One shows that plastic releases greenhouses gases when exposed to the sun.
The study found that some of the commonly-used plastics release methane and ethylene one they are exposed to sunlight.
Dr. Sarah-Jeanne Royer, lead author of the study, said they originally set out to measure methane produced by organisms in seawater when she realized that most of the methane was being emitted from the plastic bottles in the sea, reports EcoWatch.
Dr. Royer and her team tested plastics such as polycarbonate, polypropylene, polystyrene, and low-density polyethylene along with others found in food packaging, textiles, and other plastic goods.
When plastic is exposed to light from the sun, it breaks down, which exposes more plastic area to the sun, resulting in greater gas emissions.
One of the plastics, low-density polyethylene, was found to continue emitting gases even in the dark, after it had it had been exposed to the sun.
The study found plastic bags, which is the most commonly used and discarded plastic in the world, emitted the largest amount of greenhouse gases.
In a press release by the University of Hawaii, Dr. Royer and her team is now working to "constrain the overall greenhouse gas emissions from plastics." (Reuters via Next Animation)