The Facts

Why is plastic escaping into our oceans?

What’s the scale of the problem?

Time is now the enemy

It may come as a shock, but large scale of plastic production only started in 1950s. At this time, the world only produced 2 million tons per year. However this increased to over 300 million worldwide in 2014, with China, Europe and the US dominating the world market. As global consumption levels are on the rise, we’ve produced more plastic in this century than the entire 20th century.

The problem with plastic is it’s incredibly durable; but it’s also lightweight and low cost. This allows it to be used for a variety of applications – half of which are single use, used just once and then thrown away. As the world population continues to increase, we can only expect a growing waste stream that outstrips declining landfill space.

 

Welcome to the Plastisphere

Have you ever wondered how plastic escapes into the environment? Sadly this is most common where there’s poor waste management, and once plastic escapes- it persists. Apart from the proportion incinerated, most plastic waste that has ever been produced still exists today. It’s sitting in landfill or on our land, swimming down our rivers, or into our oceans.

However the problem is far worse – it’s where microplastics come in. Although plastic is durable, environmental conditions causes plastic materials to break down over time. As these journey on ocean currents, exposure to sun and wave action cause plastic to degrade into tiny particles. These attract nasty toxins which are ingested by marine animals and consequently, are passed up our food chain.

Learn 10 Key Facts on Plastic Pollution

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“We have to act. We have to act now to try and clear up some of the appalling damage we have made to the ocean … and that is going to require positive action”

Sir David Attenborough