Every piece of plastic that’s ever been created still exists in our world. Plastic pollution poses a significant threat to our environment. Single-use plastic is manufactured to last forever, yet is often used for only a few minutes, before being thrown away. Plastic was originally designed in the early 1900s to replace natural materials such as ivory and tortoiseshell, but its production has escalated to extreme levels. The production of plastic has surpassed all other man-made materials except steel and cement, and it’s expected to increase by 40% over the next decade. Between 1950 and 2015, an estimated 7,800 million tonnes of plastics were manufactured, and half of this was produced in the last 13 years alone.
So where has all this plastic gone?
- 79% has accumulated in landfill or in the natural environment
- 12% has been incinerated
- 9% has been recycled
That’s right – billions of tonnes of the plastic we’ve produced still exists somewhere in the world. Plastic pollution is building up in our oceans, throughout our natural environment and even in the stomachs of our precious wildlife.
The problems with plastic
The growing rate of plastic production raises problems in many areas of our society. It’s contributing to waste and pollution issues, it’s impacting our health, and it’s threatening our oceans and wildlife.
Threat to oceans and wildlife
- 8 million tonnes of plastic pollution enters our oceans each year
- It’s estimated that by 2050, there will be more plastic in our oceans than fish
- More than 270 marine species are affected by marine debris through ingestion, entanglement and chemical contamination
- In the next 30 years, 99% of seabirds will have ingested plastic