The Plastic Problem: How Much Plastic Pollution Is In Our Ocean?

Marine plastic debris is one of the most pressing environmental concerns facing the world today. Animal entanglement, microplastic ingestion, bioaccumulation of toxins, endocrine system disruption in humans - these are just a few of the devastating effects that plastic pollution has on us and the environment. Our oceans are choking.

To understand this problem, and why it is such a huge concern, let's investigate the sources of this pollution.

“The oceans are now clogged with plastics, especially discarded fishing gear and single-use plastics.”– Sylvia Earle

 

How much plastic is in the ocean?

Right now there are more than 51 trillion pieces of microplastic in our oceans - that's more than 500 times the number of stars in our galaxy.

“Up to 80% of all litter in our oceans is made of plastic. At the rate at which we are dumping items such as plastic bottles, bags, cups and straws after a single use, by 2050 we will have more plastics in the oceans than fish,.”– Erik Solheim, Head of United Nations Environment

 

The demand for plastic has increased dramatically over the last 70 years. More than 300 million tons of plastic is produced globally every year - half of which is used only once and then disposed of.  Less than 14% of plastic produced is recycled, with the remaining 86% ending up in the ocean, environment or landfills. In total, there are about 6.3 billion tonnes of plastic in the world's landfills - the weight of a billion elephants! Read the full article