Alarming Data

We’re using more plastic than ever before, it’s durable, cheap to produce and we’re consuming it at staggering rates. Plastic is strong, flexible and durable making it extremely useful, however that also means it never really breaks down. According to the Earth Policy Institute, nearly one trillion plastic bags are used worldwide every year. The average supermarket plastic bag can take up to 1000 years to break down so they become plastic pollution that we commonly see alongside the road or floating in the water. This equals trouble for not only us and our environment, but animals and other wildlife as well. Plastic bottle can last for 450 years in the marine environment, slowly fragmenting into smaller and smaller pieces which eventually end up microscopic but never truly go away. This means that every piece of plastic that has ever been produced is still with us, in some form. Each year, around 8 million metric tons of plastic enter the world’s oceans. It’s like dumping a rubbish truck full of plastic in the water every single minute.

At the moment there is approximately 51 trillion microscopic pieces of plastic, weighing 269,000 tons, of plastic pollution.

Environmental Impact

Plastic pollution is devastating to the environment. For wildlife such as fish, dolphins, seabirds and seals it can be deadly as they become entangled or mistake it for food. Photographer Chris Jordan (www.chrisjordan.com) captured the remains of albatross with stomachs full of plastic pieces because they accidentally made a meal from our discarded waste. More recently a Cuvier’s beaked whale was found malnourished and dying off the coast of Norway. Experts had to put the animal down as it was in such poor condition and the autopsy showed a terrifying 30 plastic bags and a large amount of plastic packaging with labels in Danish and English in its stomach and intestines, causing blockages and pain.

4-minute trailer for ALBATROSS, Chris Jordan's film from his Midway Project

Plastic pollution has also devastating effect on our health as well. One in three fish caught for human consumption now contains plastic. In seawater plastic absorbs chemicals like PCB’s and DDT’s which have been linked to endocrine disruption and even some cancers, becoming more powerful as they work their way up the food chain.

Great Pacific Garbage Patch

Only 1% of marine litter floats, the vast majority sinks to the sea floor. You have probably heard of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, right? In the North Pacific, a gyre or slowly swirling whirpool of ocean currents collects plastic debris. It is estimated to be twice the size of France and Charles Moore, the oceanographer who discovered it, has predicted that it will double in size in the next 10 years if we don’t change our ways. It has been imagined that it would take 67 ships 1 year to clean up less than 1% of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.

It is time we say NO to single use plastic and take responsibility for the environment.

PLASTIC POLLUTION FACTS AND STATS

  • Plastic pollution can now be found on every beach in the world, from busy tourist beaches to uninhabited, tropical islands nowhere is safe.
  • Scientists have recently discovered microplastics embedded deep in the Arctic ice.
  • In 1950, the world’s population of 2.5 billion produced 1.5 million tons of plastic; in 2016, a global population of more than 7 billion people produced over 320 million tons of plastic. This is set to double by 2034.
  • Every day approximately 8 million pieces of plastic pollution find their way into our oceans. There may now be around 5.25 trillion macro and microplastic pieces floating in the open ocean. Weighing up to 269,000 tonnes
  • Plastics consistently make up 60 to 90% of all marine debris studied
  • Recent studies have revealed marine plastic pollution in 100% of marine turtles, 59% of whales, 36% of seals and 40% of seabird species examined.
  • 100,000 marine mammals and turtles and 1 million sea birds are killed by marine plastic pollution annually.