It is now believed that there are 5.25 trillion pieces of plastic debris in the ocean. Of that mass, 269,000 tons float on the surface, while some four billion plastic microfibers per square kilometer litter the deep sea. (1)
Shoppers worldwide are using approximately 500 billion single-use plastic bags per year.
This translates to about a million bags every minute across the globe, or 150 bags a year for every person on earth. And the number is rising.
- If you joined them end on end they would circumnavigate the globe 4,200 times.
- 100,000 marine creatures a year die from plastic entanglement and these are the ones found.
- Approximately 1 million sea birds also die from plastic.
- A plastic bag can kill numerous animals because they take so long to disintegrate. An animal that dies from the bag will decompose and the bag will be released, another animal could harmlessly fall victim and once again eat the same bag.
- The floods in Bangladesh in 1988 & 1998 were made more severe because plastic bags clogged drains. The government has now banned plastic bags.
- In Ireland they introduced a 15c plastic bag tax and reduced their usage by 90% in one year. It is now 22 cents.
- The #1 man made thing that sailors see in our ocean are plastic bags.
- There are believed to be 46,000 pieces of plastic in every square mile of ocean.
- There are 5 ocean gyres in the world where plastic gathers due to current circulation. These gyres contain millions of pieces of plastic and our wildlife feed in these grounds.
- It can take anything between 20-1000 years for a plastic bag to break up. I mean break up as they break up into smaller pieces. They don’t break down and those that do, break down into polymers and toxic chemicals.
- It costs US$4,000 to recycle 1 tonne of plastic bags and you get a product that can be sold on the commodities market for US$32. We must stop them because recycling is not viable.
- It takes just 4 family shopping trips to accumulate 60 shopping bags.
- World wide, 13,000-15,000 pieces of plastic are dumped into the ocean every day.
- Every year, 6.4 million tonnes are dumped into the ocean. This is the same as 3,200 kilometres of trucks each loaded with garbage.
- At least two thirds of the world’s fish stocks are suffering from plastic ingestion.
- Ocean acidification is a growing problem
- Scientists have identified 200 areas declared as ‘dead zones’ where no life organisms can now grow.
Below is a graph showing the biggest polluting countries in the world. The top 5 represent approximately 60% of all ocean plastics.
- Australia alone uses 6.9 billion plastic bags a year of which 3.6 billion are plastic shopping bags.
- If you tied 6.9 billion plastic bags together end on end they would travel around the world 42.5 times.
- Australians dump 36,700 tonnes of plastic bags into our landfill every year. That equates to 4,000 bags a minute or 230,000 per hour
- Only 10% of Australians take their plastic bags for recycling
- It costs the Australian government in excess of $4 million to clean up plastic bag litter each year.
- If each Australian family used 1 less plastic bag each week that would be 253 million bags less a year.
- Less than 1% of plastic bags in Australia are reused.
- If you imagine a piece of plastic 1m wide. As a conservative guestimate, a length of this plastic 40km long is produced each day and this is for one brand of toilet paper packaging. For bread you can triple the length (120km long)
Bottled Water Story
More than a billion people around the world do not have access to safe drinking water. Most countries that buy bottled water have the luxury of quality tap water, yet despite this:
- Australians spend more than half a billion dollars a year on bottled water. Australia produced 582.9 million litres of bottled water in 2009-10 (2)
- Producing and delivering a litre of bottled water can emit hundreds of times more greenhouse gases than a litre of tap water.
- In many cases, a litre of bottled water is more expensive than a litre of petrol.
- Australia recycles only 36% of PET plastic drink bottles. Assuming the 582.9 million litres of bottled water produced in 2009-10 is in litre bottles, according to these figures, 373 million of those bottles will end up as waste.
- In South Australia , which has Container Deposit Legislation, the plastic bottle recycling rate is 74%. A 2007 national Newspoll commissioned by Clean Up Australia found that of those polled, 82% support a CDL scheme of 10c on bottles.
- Australia ’s annual use of bottled water generates more than 60,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions – the same amount that 13,000 cars generate over the course of a year.
- Approximately 15,253.79 tonnes of PET (3) was used in the packaging of bottled water in 2009-10 (4).
- The manufacture of every tonne of PET produces around 3 tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2). In Australia , bottling water has thus created more than 45.7 thousand tonnes of CO2 (5) in 2009-10, excluding the significant amounts of CO2 produced in the transportation and refrigeration of bottled water.
- Approximately 52.5 million litres of oil was used in 2009-10 to produce the PET used to package bottled water in Australia , excluding the energy used in transportation and refrigeration (6).
- More energy is used to fill the bottles, move them by truck, train, ship, or air, refrigerate them and recover, recycle or discard the empty bottles. The Pacific Institute estimates that the total amount of energy embedded in the use of bottled water can be as high as the equivalent of filling a plastic bottle one quarter full with oil. Therefore, more than 145.7 million litres of oil was used in the production, transportation, refrigeration and recycling/disposing of bottled water in Australia in 2009-10.
Source of Infographic – – https://www.titlemax.com/discovery-center/lifestyle/trash-one-person-produces-year/
Prevention is better than a cure
- IBISWorld Bottled Water Manufacturing in Australia, January 20102. West, D. Container Deposits: The Common Sense Approach v2.1, Boomerang Alliance, February 2007
When The Mermaids Cry: The Great Plastic Tide
By Claire Le Guern
Last updated in November 2019.
The world population is living, working, vacationing, increasingly conglomerating along the coasts, and standing on the front row of the greatest, most unprecedented, plastic waste tide ever faced.
Washed out on our coasts in obvious and clearly visible form, the plastic pollution spectacle blatantly unveiling on our beaches is only the prelude of the greater story that unfolded further away in the world’s oceans, yet mostly originating from where we stand: the land.
For more than 50 years, global production and consumption of plastics have continued to rise. An estimated 299 million tons of plastics were produced in 2013, representing a 4 percent increase over 2012, and confirming and upward trend over the past years.
(See: Worldwatch Institute – January 2015). In 2008, our global plastic consumption worldwide has been estimated at 260 million tons, and, according to a 2012 report by Global Industry Analysts, plastic consumption is to reach 297.
5 million tons by the end of 2015.
Plastic is versatile, lightweight, flexible, moisture resistant, strong, and relatively inexpensive. Those are the attractive qualities that lead us, around the world, to such a voracious appetite and over-consumption of plastic goods.
However, durable and very slow to degrade, plastic materials that are used in the production of so many products all, ultimately, become waste with staying power.
Our tremendous attraction to plastic, coupled with an undeniable behavioral propensity of increasingly over-consuming, discarding, littering and thus polluting, has become a combination of lethal nature.
Although inhabited and remote, South Sentinel island is covered with plastic! Plastic pollution and marine debris, South Sentinel Island, Bay of Bengal. Photo source: © SAF — Coastal Care
A simple walk on any beach, anywhere, and the plastic waste spectacle is present. All over the world the statistics are ever growing, staggeringly.
Tons of plastic debris (which by definition are waste that can vary in size from large containers, fishing nets to microscopic plastic pellets or even particles) is discarded every year, everywhere, polluting lands, rivers, coasts, beaches, and oceans.
Published in the journal Science in February 2015, a study conducted by a scientific working group at UC Santa Barbara’s National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS), quantified the input of plastic waste from land into the ocean. The results: every year, 8 million metric tons of plastic end up in our oceans.
It’s equivalent to five grocery bags filled with plastic for every foot of coastline in the world. In 2025, the annual input is estimated to be about twice greater, or 10 bags full of plastic per foot of coastline.
So the cumulative input for 2025 would be nearly 20 times the 8 million metric tons estimate – 100 bags of plastic per foot of coastline in the world!
Lying halfway between Asia and North America, north of the Hawaiian archipelago, and surrounded by water for thousands of miles on all sides, the Midway Atoll is about as remote as a place can get. Although some delivery services in Europe will use paper packaging.
However, Midways’ isolation has not spared it from the great plastic tide either, receiving massive quantities of plastic debris, shot out from the North Pacific circular motion of currents (gyre).
Midways’ beaches, covered with large debris and millions of plastic particles in place of the sand, are suffocating, envenomed by the slow plastic poison continuously washing ashore.
Then, on shore, the spectacle becomes even more poignant, as thousands of bird corpses rest on these beaches, piles of colorful plastic remaining where there stomachs had been.
In some cases, the skeleton had entirely biodegraded; yet the stomach-size plastic piles are still present, intact. Witnesses have watched in horror seabirds choosing plastic pieces, red, pink, brown and blue, because of their similarity to their own food.
It is estimated that of the 1.
5 million Laysan Albatrosses which inhabit Midway, all of them have plastic in their digestive system; for one third of the chicks, the plastic blockage is deadly, coining Midway Atoll as “albatross graveyards” by five media artists, led by photographer Chris Jordan, who recently filmed and photographed the catastrophic effects of the plastic pollution there.
Albatross, victim of plastic ingestion. Photo: Unknown.
From the whale, sea lions, and birds to the microscopic organisms called zooplankton, plastic has been, and is, greatly affecting marine life on shore and off shore.
In a 2006 report, Plastic Debris in the World’s Oceans, Greenpeace stated that at least 267 different animal species are known to have suffered from entanglement and ingestion of plastic debris.
According to the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, plastic debris kills an estimated 100,000 marine mammals annually, as well as millions of birds and fishes.
The United Nations Joint Group of Experts on the Scientific Aspects of Marine Pollution (GESAMP), estimated that land-based sources account for up to 80 percent of the world’s marine pollution, 60 to 95 percent of the waste being plastics debris.
However, most of the littered plastic waste worldwide ultimately ends up at sea. Swirled by currents, plastic litter accumulates over time at the center of major ocean vortices forming “garbage patches”, i.e. larges masses of ever-accumulating floating debris fields across the seas.
The most well known of these “garbage patches” is the Great North Pacific Garbage Patch, discovered and brought to media and public attention in 1997 by Captain Charles Moore. Yet some others large garbage patches are highly expected to be discovered elsewhere, as we’ll see further.
Fact Sheet: End Plastic Pollution
- Plastic pollution is killing our planet! It’s choking our oceans, poisoning our food and water supply, and wreaking havoc on the health and well-being of humans and wildlife worldwide
- Use these ten shocking facts about the scope of plastic pollution to educate, inspire and mobilize your friends, family, coworkers and community to join the movement to END PLASTIC POLLUTION this Earth Day.
|FACT #1||8.3 BILLION Metric Tons (9.1 BILLION US Tons) of plastic has been produced since plastic was introduced in the 1950s. The amount of plastic produced in a year is roughly the same as the entire weight of humanity. |
|FACT #2||Virtually every piece of plastic that was ever made still exists in some shape or form (with the exception of the small amount that has been incinerated).|
|FACT #3||91% of plastic waste isn’t recycled. And since most plastics don’t biodegrade in any meaningful sense, all that plastic waste could exist for hundreds or even thousands of years.|
|FACT #4||500 MILLION plastic straws are used EVERY DAY in America. That’s enough to circle the Earth twice.|
|FACT #5||Nearly TWO MILLION single-use plastic bags are distributed worldwide every minute.|
|FACT #6||100 BILLION plastic bags are used by Americans every year. Tied together, they would reach around the Earth’s equator 773 times!|
|FACT #7||ONE MILLION plastic bottles are bought EVERY MINUTE around the world — and that number will top half a TRILLION by 2021. Less than half of those bottles end up getting recycled.|
|FACT #8||8 MILLION METRIC TONS of plastic winds up in our oceans each year. That’s enough trash to cover every foot of coastline around the world with five full trash bags of plastic…compounding every year. |
|FACT #9||There is more microplastic in the ocean than there are stars in the Milky Way.|
|FACT #10||If plastic production isn’t curbed, plastic pollution will outweigh fish pound for pound by 2050.|
 Science Advances, http://advances.sciencemag.org/content/3/7/e1700782
 The Guardian, https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/jun/28/a-million-a-minute-worlds-plastic-bottle-binge-as-dangerous-as-climate-change
 Science Advances, http://advances.sciencemag.org/content/3/7/e1700782
 National Geographic, https://news.nationalgeographic.com/2017/07/plastic-produced-recycling-waste-ocean-trash-debris-environment
 National Park Service, https://www.nps.gov/commercialservices/greenline_straw_free.htm
 Earth Policy Institute, http://www.earth-policy.org/press_room/C68/plastic_bags_fact_sheet
 The Guardian https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/jun/28/a-million-a-minute-worlds-plastic-bottle-binge-as-dangerous-as-climate-change
 Science Advances, http://advances.sciencemag.org/content/3/7/e1700782
 United Nations, https://news.un.org/en/story/2017/02/552052-turn-tide-plastic-urges-un-microplastics-seas-now-outnumber-stars-our-galaxy#.WLA81BLyvBJ
 World Economic Forum Report, http://www3.weforum.org/docs/WEF_The_New_Plastics_Economy.pdf
There’s a Horrifying Amount of Plastic in the Ocean. This Chart Shows Who’s to Blame
NOAA Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center/AP
For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis and more, subscribe to Mother Jones' newsletters.
Marine scientists have long known that plastic pollution in the ocean is a huge problem.
The most visible sign of it is the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, an accumulation of waste (actually spanning several distinct patches) floating in the ocean.
It’s at least twice the size of Texas and can be seen from space. This pollution has an incalculably lethal effect on everything from plankton to whales.
So just how much plastic is there? A new study in Science yesterday put out some pretty horrifying numbers: In 2010, the study finds, between 4.8 and 12.7 million metric tons (that’s about 10.5 billion to 28 billion pounds) of plastic entered the oceans—the median of those estimates is 1.3 times the weight of the Great Pyramid at Giza.
If we want to crack down on all that plastic, knowing where it all comes from could be as important as knowing how much there is. That’s the main idea behind this study.
A team of scientists led by University of Georgia environmental engineer Jenna Jambeck set out to calculate how much plastic every one of the world’s 192 coastal countries dumps into the ocean.
To do it, they combined data on each country’s per-capita waste generation, the size of the population living within 50 kilometers of the ocean, the percentage of waste that is plastic, and the percentage of plastic waste that is “mismanaged” (defined as “either littered or inadequately disposed”).
Eight Million Tons of Plastic Dumped in Ocean Every Year
Scientists have come up with a new way to measure ocean trash—and the numbers are even worse than thought.
In 2010, eight million tons of plastic trash ended up in the ocean from coastal countries—far more than the total that has been measured floating on the surface in the ocean's “garbage patches.”
That's the bad news. The even worse news is that the tonnage is on target to increase tenfold in the next decade unless the world finds a way to improve how garbage is collected and managed.
The findings are part of a groundbreaking study published Thursday in Science that for the first time quantifies how much garbage flows into the world's oceans every year.
Until now, most efforts to measure ocean debris have involved sample counts of plastic floating on the surface in large garbage patches in each of the world's oceans. A study last year, for example, estimated the amount of floating trash to be 245,000 tons at most.
The new study also identifies the major sources of plastic debris and names the top 20 countries generating the greatest amount of ocean-bound trash. China is first. The United States is 20th. The rest of the list includes 11 other Asian countries, Turkey, five African countries, and Brazil.
The rankings in this chart reflect the largest total amounts of plastic waste flowing into the oceans annually, not the highest per capita amounts. For example, Bangladesh ranks 10th overall, with 867,879 tons, but 187th per capita, at 346 pounds per person. Denmark ranks 143rd overall with 1,974 tons, but 19th per capita, at 1,883 pounds per person.
NG Staff; J. L. Wang. Source: Science
Even though the United States has a highly developed garbage collection system, it nevertheless made the top 20 for two reasons: It has a large, dense coastal population and, as a wealthy nation, is a large consumer of products. (See video: “Are You Eating Plastic for Dinner?”)