Waste plastics are found across all continents, rivers and oceans. This plastic is killing and injuring wildlife. Micro plastics have been detected in 83% of the worlds tapwater and are now entering the human food chain with unknown consequences. Plastic is persistent and resistant to natural processes of degradation:
50 years – Foam Plastic cup
400 years – Plastic beverage holder
450 years – disposable nappy
600 years – Fishing line
The scale of the problem is pretty scary too. 20 times more plastic is found on land than in the ocean and:
6.3 billion tonnes of plastic has been produced worldwide over the last 70 years; estimate:
79% waste, including landfill and in the rivers and oceans.
380 million tonnes - plastic produced worldwide in 2018
50% single use plastics
Nearly the equivalent weight of the entire human population!
We are failing to meet the challenge at every level of society and it starts with us all individually. Before looking to apportion blame for this shocking state of affairs, we should first take a long hard look in the mirror. It is every persons' responsibility not to 'litter' and to dispose of waste (including plastics) in an appropriate manner. We must change the 'throw away' culture for single use plastics such as drinks bottles, straws, food wrapping and bags. But its not enough just for us to do our bit, local and national governments need to work with industry to promote and implement recycling or other disposal schemes to minimise landfill.
Manufacturers are an easy target for blame as they produced the plastic in the first place, but until alternative materials are found, we need plastics for things like medical equipment, cars, mobile phones and to keep food fresh. Surely its better to work with governments, manufacturers and wider industry to find a more efficient, environmentally friendly, profitable way, creating jobs and perhaps even a new industry along the way?