Otherwise, by 2050, the plastic in our oceans will weigh more than its inhabitants.
Since the handy plastic bag made its first appearance in 1950s, 8.3 billion tons of plastic has been produced, 76% of which is clogging up landfills, littering our countryside and polluting the oceans.
Around half of plastic items mass made since 1950 was produced over the last five years, studies show. Although the production of plastic goods continues to rise dramatically, recycling rates remain inadequate, with only 14% of plastic packaging being recycled. Plastic’s inability to biodegrade in the same way as non-synthetic materials means it exists on the earth for thousands of years.
The recent film A Plastic Ocean sees journalist Craig Leeson and free diver Tanya Streeter explore the fragile state of our oceans during their search for the elusive blue whale.
Currently, around 10-20 million tons of plastic waste ends up in the ocean every year. Scientists predict that unless we change our habits, 12 billion tons will be disposed of in landfills by 2050, and the amount in the ocean will outweigh the sea life that calls it home.
“The average time someone uses a single-use plastic container is just 11 minutes.”
Why is plastic consumption rising so rapidly? A primary reason is that over the years there has been a shift from reusable to single-use plastic containers. Disposability has become so entrenched in our way of life that the fact that the average time someone uses a single-use plastic container is just 11 minutes isn’t surprising.
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Written by: Kate Tattersfield