Plastic Pollution

Plastic is having a profound effect on our ocean.

  • By 2050, oceans will carry more plastic mass than fish and an estimated 99% of seabirds will have ingested plastic.(1)
  • Plastic waste kills up to 1 million sea birds, 100,000 sea mammals, marine turtles and countless fish each year. (2)
  • 80 per cent of all pollution in seas and oceans comes from land-based activities (3).
  • Half of all plastics ever manufactured have been made in the last 15 years.
  • Nearly 700 species, including endangered ones, are known to have been affected by plastics. Nearly every species of seabird eats plastics.
  • There are five massive patches of plastic in the oceans around the world. These huge concentrations of plastic debris cover large swaths of the ocean; the one between California and Hawaii is the size of the state of Texas.
  • A garbage truck’s worth of plastic is dumped into the ocean every minute. If current trends continue, 12 billion metric tons of plastic waste will exist in the world by 2050.
  • According to a recent study, scientists concluded that corals that come into contact with plastic have an 89% chance of contracting disease, compared with a 4% likelihood for corals that do not. (4)

Global Plastic Production

  • Global plastic production has quadrupled over the past four decades.
  • We are producing over 300 million tons of plastic every year, 50% of which is single-use plastics.
  • Plastic takes more than 400 years to decompose.
  • Plastic Industry will produce 881 billion pounds of plastic, 40% of this is thrown away in 20 minutes. That’s throw way living.
  • Plastic production has increased from 2 million metric tons in 1950 to 380 million metric tons in 2015.
  • The American Chemistry Council says the U.S. industry plans to spend $47 billion on new plastics-production capacity over the next decade. Currently about 42% of plastic is designed for packaging, which is especially troubling because most plastic packaging is designed for single-use.

Microplastics

  • A microplastic particle is any piece of plastic smaller than five millimeters, but many are much smaller and only visible under a microscope.
  • Microplastics come in the form of fragments, pellets, beads, fibers, and film. It can be made up of from a number of different materials with hundreds of different chemical additives.
  • An average person consumes 70,000 microplastics each year, according to a report published in Environmental Pollution.
  • Microplastics have been found in 93% of bottled water tested in global study conducted by Orb Media.
  • A 2018 study published in the journal Environmental Pollution concluded that people were more likely to ingest plastic through dust in their environment than by eating shellfish. (5)
  • Microplastics have been found in 90% of table salt, according to a study published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology. An average adult consumes approximately 2,000 microplastics per year through salt. (6 & 7)

Plastic Bags

  • Americans use 200 billion plastic bags a year which require 12 million barrels of oil to manufacture.
  • Plastic bags are used for an average of 12 minutes but takes up to 1,000 years to degrade in a landfill.
  • The average American family takes home almost 1,500 plastic shopping bags a year, according to Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc.
  • According to Waste Management, only 1 % of plastic shopping bags returned for recycling. That means an average family only recycles 15 bags a year, the rest ends up in landfills.

Plastic Waste and Greenhouse Emission

  • In 2019, the production and incineration of plastic will add more than 850 million metric tons of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere—equal to the emissions from 189 five-hundred-megawatt coal power plants.
  • US emissions from plastic incineration in 2015 are estimated at 5.9 million metric tons of CO2e.
  • Emissions from plastics production and incineration could account to 56 gigatons of carbon between now and 2050. That's 56 billion tons, or almost 50 times the annual emissions of all of the coal power plants in the U.S.