Plastic Waste Facts: 7 Surprising FactsNovember 7, 2022
Do you want to surprise yourself with plastic waste facts, let’s go.
It’s no surprise that plastic waste is a huge problem. Every year, around 8 million tons of plastic waste escape into the oceans.
That’s the equivalent of setting five grocery bags full of trash on every foot of coastline around the world. And it’s getting worse.
As of 2015, more than 6.3 billion tonnes of plastic waste had been generated. Around 9 percent of that was recycled, 12 percent was incinerated, and the remaining 79 percent was sent to landfills or simply dumped in the environment.
In addition to the massive amount of plastic waste that ends up in our oceans, a whopping 2 million plastic bags are used every minute worldwide.
Annually, approximately 500 billion plastic bags are used and only 3% are recycled. This means that 12 million tonnes of plastic are poured into the ocean each year!
Not only is this pollution extremely harmful to marine life and our environment, but making plastic uses a lot of water too.
The Problem With Plastic Pollution
Plastic pollution has become one of the most pressing environmental issues, as the rapidly increasing production of disposable plastic products pollutes the world’s oceans and land. Animals and birds can get trapped, tangled and even strangled by all kinds of plastic waste, such as discarded fishing nets and six-pack rings from drinks.
Simply put, plastic pollution occurs when plastic has gathered in an area and has begun to negatively impact the natural environment and create problems for wildlife. From plankton to pilot whales, algae to albatross – no ocean life remains free from the effects of this plastic waste.
It’s estimated that 100,000 marine animals are killed by plastic pollution each year. Marine plastic pollution has impacted at least 267 species worldwide, including 86% of all sea turtle species, 44% of all seabird species and 43% of all marine mammals.
Most plastic pollution comes from inadequate collection and disposal of larger plastic debris known as microplastics, but the leakage of microplastics from cosmetics, clothing, and other consumers.
Where Does Most Plastic Pollution Come From?
Most of the plastic pollution in the ocean comes from land-based sources, such as rivers. In some regions, marine sources dominate, but in most cases, land-based sources are responsible for the majority of plastic pollution.
This is often due to poor waste management practices in many countries, particularly in Asia. Scientists have found that 80 percent of plastic waste is distributed by more than 1,000 rivers, not simply 10 or 20. This shows that the problem is widespread and needs to be addressed urgently.
Plastic Waste Facts
Here are some important facts about plastic waste:
1. Plastic is made from petroleum
Plastic is made from petroleum, which is a non-renewable resource. This means that once we use up all the oil and natural gas, we will no longer be able to produce plastic.
Plastic pollution is a huge problem. Every year, around 8 million tons of plastic waste end up in our oceans. This plastic pollution harms marine life, and can even end up in the seafood we eat.
Recycling plastic reduces the amount of pollution created, and can help to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels. Several companies have come up with pilot plants to convert plastic waste into crude oil, diesel, or other fuels.
We need to do something about this problem before it’s too late. We need to reduce our reliance on plastic and find ways to recycle the plastic that we already have.
2. Recycling one ton of plastic saves the equivalent of 1,000 to 2,000 gallons of gasoline
We should recycle plastic because it conserves resources, reduces pollution, and saves energy. For every ton of plastic we recycle, we save the equivalent of 1,000 to 2,000 gallons of gasoline.
That is a significant amount of fuel that can be used for other purposes. In addition, recycling plastic reduces the amount of pollution that is created when plastic is burned.
Burning plastic releases harmful toxins into the air that can cause respiratory problems and other health issues. Finally, recycling plastic saves energy because it takes less energy to recycle plastic than it does to create new plastic from scratch.
So let’s do our part to help the environment by recycling plastic. It’s easy to do and it makes a big difference.
3. Every year, about 8 million tons of plastic waste escapes into the oceans from coastal nations
This is a huge problem because that plastic waste can wind up polluting land, waterways, and oceans. It is estimated that 1.1 to 8.8 million tonnes of plastic waste enter the ocean from coastal countries each year. This is a huge amount of pollution that is having a negative impact on our environment.
We need to do something to reduce the amount of plastic waste that escapes into the oceans each year. One way to do this is to recycle more plastic. We can also reduce the amount of plastic we use overall by using reusable bags and containers. Every little bit helps when it comes to reducing plastic pollution.
4. Millions of animals are killed by plastics every year
You may not realize it, but plastic waste is actually killing millions of animals every year. From birds to fish to other marine organisms, plastics are responsible for the deaths of 100 million animals annually.
That’s 12 million tonnes of plastic that are making its way into the ocean each year! Not only does this have a devastating impact on wildlife, but it also affects the food chain and ultimately humans as well. We need to do something about this problem before it’s too late.
5. Only 9% of all plastic produced is recycled
Though plastic is a very versatile material that is used in many different ways, it has become a growing problem in recent years. One of the biggest issues with plastic is the amount of waste that is produced. It is estimated that only 9% of all plastic ever produced has been recycled. This means that the vast majority of plastic waste ends up in landfills or as litter.
This is a problem for several reasons. First, plastic takes a long time to decompose. This means that it will stay in landfills for many years, taking up space and potentially leaching harmful chemicals into the environment.
Second, when plastic litter ends up in the ocean, it can be ingested by marine animals who mistake it for food. This can cause them to starve or suffocate. In addition, the chemicals in the plastic can be transferred to animals who eat them and eventually make their way into the human food chain.
6. Single-use plastics are illegal in some parts of the world
Kenya introduced one of the world’s toughest laws against plastic bags in 2017, and the results have been impressive.
The country has seen a significant reduction in the use of plastic bags, and there has been a corresponding increase in the use of reusable bags. This is a great example of what can be done to reduce the use of single-use plastics.
7. 73% of beach litter worldwide is plastic.
Beach litter is a global problem, and it’s one that we can all help to solve. Did you know that 73% of all beach litter is plastic? That’s right – nearly three-quarters of the litter on our beaches is made up of plastic products and debris.
Plastic bottles, grocery bags, and food wrappers are just some of the items that end up as beach litter. And it’s not just unsightly – this litter can be harmful to wildlife. Animals can mistake plastic for food and ingest it, or become entangled in plastic waste and suffocate.
We can all help to reduce beach litter by disposing of our waste properly. When you’re finished with a plastic bottle or wrapper, make sure to put it in the trash instead of leaving it on the ground. And if you see litter while you’re out walking on the beach, pick it up and throw it away.
As demonstrated by the statistics, plastic waste is a serious problem that requires a fundamental change in thinking about how plastics are made, used, and discarded. The main conclusion is that there is still very limited information on microplastics in the marine environment.
We do not know how much of it makes its way into the food chain, but we do know that it causes harm to marine life and has become a major global environmental concern.
The recent COVID-19 pandemic has led to increased use of single-use plastics, which will only exacerbate the problem. Given our declining reserves of fossil fuels, and finite capacity for disposal of waste to landfill, this linear use of hydrocarbons, via packaging and other consumer products, is not sustainable. We need to find ways to reduce our reliance on plastic and to recycle or reuse the plastic we do use.