The Plastic Problem
  • Plastic can remain in the environment for over 2,000 years. It does not biodegrade but instead fragments into tiny pieces. 

  • Over 8 million tonnes of plastic ends up in the ocean every year.

  • The UN estimates that there are 51 trillion microplastic particles in the ocean – 500 times more than the number of stars in the galaxy. Plastic debris outweighs plankton by a ratio of 36 to 1. Oceans are predicted to contain more plastic than fish by 2050.

 

  • More than 5 trillion plastic pieces weighing over 250,000 tonnes are afloat at sea. In July 2017, a plastic waste patch bigger than Mexico was discovered floating in the Pacific Ocean.

 

  • Wild animals get entangled in plastic, eat it or mistake it for food and feed it to their young. Over 260 species have been reported to ingest or become entangled in plastic debris, resulting in impaired movement and feeding, reduced reproductive output and death. Plastic is ingested by 31 species of marine mammal and more than 100 species of sea birds.

 

  • Plastic products leach toxins that are now found in most people. Exposure to these toxins is linked to infertility, cancers and many other health problems.

 

  • In 2016, 6,000 Great British Beach Clean volunteers picked up 268,384 individual pieces of plastic from 364 British beaches over just one weekend.

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