More Plastic Than Fish In The Oceans By 2050

photo credit: The equivalent of one garbage truck is dumped into the oceans every minute. Fotos593/Shutterstock

The oceans are warming and becoming more acidic because of the continuos pumping of COinto the atmosphere. There is also another threat to our oceans: plastic. In todays world plastic can be found everywhere, from the packaging of the food we eat to the technology we use everyday. According to a new study by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, if things continue the way they are, plastic litter will have outweigh fish by the year 2050.

According to the new report, 95 percent of plastic packaging is lost to the economy every year after only being used once, costing an estimated $80-120 billion (£56-84 billion). Only 5 percent is recycled effectively, around 40 percent is buried in landfill, and a third of all plastic produced each year finds its way into the oceans.

At least eight million tonnes of plastics find their way into the ocean every year—equal to one garbage truckful every minute, said the report by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, which included analysis by the McKinsey Centre for Business and Environment.

Only a tiny fraction of the plastics produced every year is ever recycled back into the system, and even less is recycled effectively. Ellen MacArthur Foundation

The rubbish that finds its way into the oceans has harmful impact on the wildlife. Plastics found in the stomachs of seabirds to the plastics eaten by turtles and seals. There is even microplastic that we can’t see that is being ingested by fish that we consume. Since 1964 plastic production has increased by 20 percent standing at around 311 million tonnes, and it is expected to double within the next 20 years and quadruple by 2050.

Another thing to consider about our use of plastic is that it’s not just about what ends up in the oceans but the fossil fuels that are needed to create plastic in the first place. Production of plastic currently uses around six percent of the global oil consumption by 2050 this could rise to 20 percent.

The amount of plastic produced every year is set to increase dramatically within the next 30 years. Ellen MacArthur Foundation

‘A sweeping change in the use of plastic packaging would require cooperation worldwide between consumer goods companies, plastic packaging producers, businesses involved in collection, cities, policymakers and other organisations.’

The study proposed setting up a new system to slash the littering of plastics into nature, especially the oceans and to find alternatives to crude oil and natural gas as the raw material in the production of plastics. But it won’t be easy to achieve as plastics are the main material in use in the modern economy.

“Plastics are the workhorse material of the modern economy with unbeaten properties. However, they are also the ultimate single-use material,” said Martin Stuchtey of the McKinsey Center for Business and Environment.

The report proposes the use of re-usable plastics as part of the change that is needed. It would also require world wide cooperation between consumer goods companies, plastic packaging producers, cities, policymakers and other organisations.

 

Reference:

David Williams. (2016). Plastic to outweigh fish in oceans by 2050, study warns. Available: http://phys.org/news/2016-01-plastic-outweigh-fish-oceans.html. Last accessed 22nd Jan 2016.

Josh L Davis. (2016). Plastic In Oceans Will Outweigh Fish By 2050.Available: http://www.iflscience.com/environment/plastic-oceans-could-outweigh-fish-2050. Last accessed 22nd Jan 2016.
Ellen MacArthur Foundation

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