We are all trying to lessen the impact we have on the environment, and one of the most significant influences that seem almost unavoidable is plastic. Going plastic free is virtually impossible as it infiltrates so many aspects of life. From a plastic casing on your phone, to plastic carrier bags, food and drink packaging, it is hard to get through the day without encountering plastic.
While some plastics can be recycled, a significant proportion ends up in landfill sites.
The pollution caused by plastic can be physically dangerous with many plastics being toxic and have an adverse effect on our health, with BPA which is a plastic chemical has been found in children aged over 6. With so much plastic waste in the oceans, it is affecting marine life, birds, the food chain and the ecosystem as a whole.
With the significant impact that plastic has on the world it is a no-brainer that we need to reduce our plastic use as much as possible.
If you need further encouragement to limit your plastic waste, here are ten disturbing plastic packaging statistics that will make you re-think your relationship with plastic.
10 daunting plastic packaging statistics
1. 50% of plastic is used only once
Incredibly, half of the plastic that is negatively impacting our the ecosystem is created for single use. This could include plastic bottle, coffee cup lids and food packaging. With such a throwaway culture, only 5% of plastic is recovered from what is produced.
2. Yearly plastic waste can circle the earth four times
The amount of plastic packaging that is thrown away every single year is enough in length to circle the globe four times over. This stat will only grow as the rate of plastic wastage is growing at a rate of 9% every year. Naturally, landfill does not help the problem, it just delays the problem for future years.
3. 12 billion tonnes of plastic waste to reach landfill by 2050
Since the beginning of plastic production, it is estimated that at least 8.3 billion tonnes of plastic have been produced. From this, at least 6.3 billion tonnes of plastic waste has been created and almost 80% have been put to landfill or is in the natural environment.
With current production rates and continued mismanagement of plastic waste across the world, there will be 12 billion tonnes of wasted plastic in a landfill by 2050. With a single plastic bottle taking 450 years to biodegrade.
4. Plastic outnumbers sea life by six to one
There is more plastic in the oceans than wildlife. In fact, plastic outnumbers sea life by six pieces for every one animal. Furthermore 90% of the pollution floating in the ocean is plastic which depressingly accounts for 46,000 pieces of plastic in every single square mile.
5. 7 million coffee cups get thrown away in the UK every day
Love a takeaway coffee? So, do 7 million other people in the UK. In just a single day, 7 million coffee cups are thrown away every single day. Many of these coffee cups are made from polystyrene complete with plastic lids.
With hardly any coffee cups or lids being recycled or recyclable, the harmless morning coffee may be significantly damaging the environment. Regularly enjoy a coffee? Why not invest in a reusable coffee cup, your coffee shop may discount your coffee because of it too.
Plastic bottles are also a problem, as 20,000 plastic bottles being bought worldwide every single second. Unfortunately, less than 50% of these bottles are recycled. Just 7% of the plastic bottles are transformed into new bottles with a single plastic bottle taking 450 years to biodegrade.
6. All sea turtle species have traces of plastic in their bodies
Due to the tiny fragments of plastic in the ocean, all sea turtle species and 44% of seabird species have been found to have plastic in their system or around their bodies. This also includes a depressing 22% of cetaceans too.
7. 10 million tonnes of plastic pollutes the sea every year
Ocean plastic is significantly impacting the environment and marine ecosystems. Plastic has entered the food chain with toxic plastic being found in bird life as well as fish and sea mammals. From a study in the journal Science, they found that 192 coastal countries are adding to 10 million tonnes of plastic ending up in the sea each year.
There are five gyres in which plastic waste accumulates in the ocean, these gyres have a much higher concentration of plastic than anywhere else in the ocean due to the circular currents.
8. One million plastic bags are used every minute
Forgetting your reusable bag at the supermarket is easy to do. In fact, one million plastic bags are used worldwide every single minute. This means that 500 billion plastic bags are used across the globe each year. By remembering a cotton bag or using shops which supply paper bags we could significantly lessen the damage of plastic on the environment.
9. The ocean doesn’t have a plastic garbage patch mass that is twice the size of Texas but…
Named the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, there is a myth about a floating plastic mass which is considered the largest ocean garbage site in the world. The truth is that there is no scientific evidence of a mass being collated from the North Pacific Gyre, which would be a solid landmass but it is true that a circular tide brings pollution together into that zone, a more accurate comparison would be like flecks of pepper floating throughout a bowl of soup.
10. Only one-third of UK plastic packaging is recycled
Consumers in the UK still only recycle one-third of their plastic packaging. Two-thirds of plastic packaging is taken to landfill while a small proportion is incinerated. With this in mind less than half of the plastic goods that are recyclable are actually recycled. Much of this wastage comes down to a lack of recycling infrastructure due to austerity cuts from central government being passed down to local councils, and also by individuals not being sure whether a product can be recovered or not.