The amount of plastics that ends up in our oceans is reaching crisis proportions.
Plastic pollution is not only threatening our waters and marine life, but also the human food chain and our health. We are now producing nearly 300 million tons of plastic every year. Plastic is cheap and incredibly versatile with properties that make it ideal for many applications. However, these qualities have also resulted in it becoming an environmental issue. The “disposable” lifestyle has resulted in estimates that around 50% of plastic is used just once and thrown away.
- At least 8 million tons of plastic enter the oceans each year. That’s similar to emptying a garbage truck of plastic into an ocean every minute.
- There is more microplastic in the ocean than there are stars in the Milky Way.
- 322 million tons of plastic were produced in 2015—the same weight as 900 Empire State Buildings.
- 60-90 percent of marine litter is plastic-based.
- The average U.S. citizen consumes 167 plastic water bottles each year—but recycles just 25% of them.
- The amount of plastic in the world’s oceans could increase by a factor of 10 in the next decade.
- Cigarette butts, plastic bags, fishing gear, and food and beverage containers are the most common forms of plastic pollution found in the oceans.
- 50% of plastic is used just once and thrown away.
- Packaging is the largest end use market segment accounting for just over 40% of total plastic usage.
- Annually approximately 500 billion plastic bags are used worldwide. More than one million bags are used every minute.
- A plastic bag has an average “working life” of 15 minutes.
- Over the last ten years we have produced more plastic than during the whole of the last century.
- According to the Container Recycling Institute, 100.7 billion plastic beverage bottles were sold in the U.S. in 2014, or 315 bottles per person. 57% of those units were plastic water bottles: 57.3 billion sold in 2014. This is up from 3.8 billion plastic water bottles sold in 1996, the earliest year for available data.
- The process of producing bottled water requires around 6 times as much water per bottle as there is in the container.
- 14% of all litter comes from beverage containers. When caps and labels are considered, the number is higher.
- From the tiniest plankton to the largest whales, plastics impact nearly 700 species in our ocean
- Plastic has been found in more than 60% of all seabirds and in 100% of sea turtles species
There are positive steps being taken to protect the oceans.
US Senate Passes Save Our Seas Act!
In a heartening display of bipartisan unity, the Senate recently passed the Save Our Seas Act, a small but significant piece of legislation. This is an important step forward as America shows leadership in the global fight to tackle the marine debris crisis.
A companion bill has been introduced in the House but has yet to pass. Contact your Representative and tell them you want action.
CA Lawmaker Introduces Bill to Reduce Plastic Straw Waste
Majority Leader Ian Calderon has introduced Assembly Bill 1884, which would require servers at sit-down restaurants to ask customers if they want a straw before providing one. The bill would not apply to fast-food restaurants. Click here to read more.
On November 8, 2017, following four attempts in the face of fierce industry objection, the voters of California finally affirmed the state’s plastic bag ban by a margin of 6.5 percentage points in a veto referendum.
Steps we can take to fight the marine pollution problem.
Remember that one person can make a difference. Small accomplishments add up quicker then you might think.
Plastic Oceans, https://www.plasticoceans.org/the-facts/
Ocean Conservancy, https://oceanconservancy.org/trash-free-seas/plastics-in-the-ocean/