Uniting and activating powerful voices for ocean conservation

My journey from source to solution

Melinda Watson – @Melinda_RAW

Plastic pollution has reached a crisis point, especially in the ocean.

Despite growing awareness of the problem, the flow of plastic waste continues to increase exponentially – across the world. The vast majority of this originates from the land. This is contaminating precious water systems, threatening marine life, passing up the food chain, and affecting human health, infiltrating other cultures, impacting wildlife and encouraging a throwaway consumer culture across the world.

Plastics production has soared over the past 50 years, from 15m tonnes in 1964 to 311m tonnes in 2014. This figure is expected to double over the next 20 years and almost quadruple by 2050. Estimates suggest that at least 8m tonnes of plastics leak from land to sea every year and that there are over 150 million tonnes of plastics in the ocean today.

If the projected growth of plastic production and business-as-usual trends continue, warnings indicate the oceans will contain more plastic (by weight) than fish by 2050. By that time, the production of plastic will account for 20 per cent of the world’s total oil consumption and represent 15 per cent of the global annual carbon budget.

Frustratingly, most of this waste is primary micro-plastics, such as plastic pellets and microbeads, and secondary microplastics originating from single-use plastic and packaging.

Not only is this damaging to our marine environment and human health, it makes absolutely no sense economically. Exceeding the industry’s profit pool, approximately $80 – 120 billion is lost to the world economy every year – purely because 95 per cent of all single-use plastic is thrown away every year.

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