Plastic is continuing to pollute our sea and there doesn’t seem to be any sign of it slowing down. Across the globe, we’re producing over 300 million tonnes of plastic each year due to its cheapness and versatility when it comes to packaging – it’s creating an environmental problem that needs to be addressed. In 2015, 322 million tonnes of plastic were produced which would equal the same weight as 900 Empire State Buildings!
For that reason, we’ve teamed up with Reconomy, Caged Tipper suppliers and waste management specialist to find out more.
We’ve developed a dependency on plastic to the point where it has adapted itself into our everyday lives, however, it has been estimated that around 50% of the plastic that we use is only used once and then disposed of. Only 12% of plastic is recycled, ranging from plastic bags to plastic bottles. When we looked to see where the greatest amount of plastic is being used, not surprisingly it came to packaging which accounted for 40% of its use.
Each year, an estimation of 500 billion plastics bags are used globally. However, the UK government has taken a step towards combatting it, by making large shops (that have more than 250 employees) in England charge 5p for carrier bags. But has this helped? Since the scheme was introduced in 2015, England saw that the number of plastic bags usage went down by 80% which has benefitted this environmental issue. Currently there is around 5.25 trillion pieces of plastic currently in our waters.
In our ocean
Dame Ellen MacArther had claimed that the amount of plastic that floats in our oceans, will eventually outnumber the amount of fish by 2050. It doesn’t only pose a threat on the existing sea creatures such as turtles (who tend to consume plastic), it will also destroy habitats which could cause great damage to different environments below the water and create everlasting problems.
Reports have revealed that more than 8 million tonnes of plastic is dumped in our sea each year – this is a staggering figure that causes 1 in 3 marine mammals being tangled in marine litter. It’s also been found that 90% of seabirds have pieces of plastic wedged into their stomachs — a problem caused by those on land affecting those off land.
About 20% of litter, floating around our sea comes from ships and offsites sites, the rest comes from heavy winds blowing rubbish into the ocean and litter from the beaches – however, sometimes it comes from illegal dumping. Research shows that plastic usually gathers where the ocean current meets, forming plastic islands that sea creatures sometimes use as transportation that could move them far away from their usual habitat.
Because the plastic contains chemicals and soaks up existing toxics from the air, this can affect not only sea creatures, but humans as well. After a while, the plastic in the sea will release chemicals and the fish in the ocean will potentially inhale them – resulting in a contaminated food supply chain.
How to reduce plastic pollution
You can take different steps to help better the planet, depending on the amount of plastic that you produce. If you’re a business, the most common and effective way to reduce plastic pollution is to have a waste management service in place that can help you reduce and track the changes your business makes when it comes to waste. However, there are more methods that the everyday person can follow to make a difference:
- Recycling – a simple solution that can make a huge impact. If you recycle, you are immediately keeping plastics from entering our oceans and reducing the amount of new plastic that goes into circulation.
- Litter picking – Doing this around the nearest beaches will help reduce the amount of plastics going into our oceans, making a huge difference
- Microbeads – This has become more common type of plastic pollution in our seas, and it’s preventable. A lot of toiletries like face scrub and toothpastes contain tiny plastic particles that we call microbeads, they make their way into the sea through sewer systems.
- Prevention – Finding alternatives to using plastic