24 January 2016

Oceans of plastic

What comes to mind when you think of oceans? Fish, of course. But what about plastic? Most people know we are dumping a lot of plastic into the world's oceans, but many would be surprised at just how much. According to a report published by the World Economic Forum, by mid-century the oceans will contain more plastic, by weight, than fish. As the oceans are fished out, the amount of plastic dumped into them steadily increases.

We currently dump eight million tonnes of plastic into the oceans every year, the equivalent of a dump truck of plastic every minute. By 2030 it will be two trucks a minute; and by 2050, four a minute, at which time there will be as much plastic in the oceans as fish. It turns up everywhere from the deep sea to buried in Arctic ice. We are turning the oceans into plastic soup.

This has severe effects on the environment and on our economy. Fish, seabirds, whales, turtles and other marine life eat plastic and die from choking, intestinal blockage and starvation. Toxic chemicals from the plastic, such as bisphenol A, an endocrine-disruptor, leach out and are absorbed by fish and ultimately, therefore, by us.

Yet another argument for a lot less plastic and a lot more recycling.

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