There are over 5 trillion pieces of plastic afloat in the world’s oceans, a number that is slated to increase exponentially. According to the World Economic Forum plastic will dominate the world’s ocean by 2050, not fish.
Despite the ubiquity of plastic in marine environments, it has detrimental effects on marine life. One aspect of these impacts on marine life is that the consumption of plastic particles by animals can cause starvation and gut obstruction, yet another aspect is chemical. Plastic acts as a transport vector contributing to the distribution of chemicals in marine environments which can harm wildlife.
CNN Money reports that the most used form of plastic is for packaging products and only 14 percent of this type of plastic material is actually being recycled. Fourteen percent is low compared to paper, which is 58 percent recycled and iron and steel which are approximately 90 percent recycled. In terms of money, CNN Money reports that $80 to $120 billion dollars is lost annually to the economy from failure to recycle plastic products.
over 90 percent of plastics developed do not include recycled materials.
The Washington Post reports that by 2050 plastic production is expected to triple. The World Economic Forum, according to CNN Money, states that giving consumers incentives to recycle and easy access to recycling facilities is key to curbing plastic use. Curbing plastic use, according the World Economic Forum is critical to keeping global warming below two degrees Celsius because by 2050 plastics will contribute to 15 percent of the world’s global carbon budget. Plastic is derived from fossil fuels and currently contributes to six percent of global oil consumption. At present, over 90 percent of plastics developed do not include recycled materials.
According to the World Economic Forum’s report, 8 million tons of plastic are dumped into the ocean every year which is the same as “dumping the contents of one garbage truck into the ocean every minute.” If nothing changes, it is estimated that the ocean will hold 1 ton of plastic for every 3 tons of fish by 2025 and by 2050 the amount of plastic (in tons) will outweigh the amount of fish in the sea.