DAVOS, SWITZERLAND — By 2050, plastic rubbish in the ocean will outweigh fish, according to a new report by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation released at the World Economic Forum in Davos this week.
According to the report, the United States, Europe and Asia together account for 85 percent of plastics production, roughly split between the U.S. and Europe on one side and Asia on the other.
The report found that 95 percent of plastic packaging is lost to the economy each year after a single use, at a cost of an estimated billion to 0 billion.
Only five percent of all plastic produced each year is recycled effectively, while around 40 percent is buried in landfills. About 32 percent — roughly 8 million tonnes — reaches the world’s oceans, the equivalent of dumping the contents of one garbage truck into the ocean each minute.
As developing countries continue to grow and therefore consume more, the production of plastic, which currently stands at around 311 million tonnes a year, is expected to quadruple by 2050. This will bring the ratio of plastic to fish in the ocean, calculated according to weight, from 1:5 to more than 1:1.
The report urges people to take action and to rethink the way we use and recycle plastic. It also suggests that manufactures help reduce plastic waste by producing not only plastic that is reusable but also compostable plastics, a new generation of plastics that are biodegradable through composting.
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Pinkie-sized plankton called giant larvaceans can ingest tiny pieces of plastic and pass them in their fecal pellets, which then sink to the bottom of the ocean. This finding suggests larvaceans and other filter feeders may contribute to the more rapid transfer of plastic pollution from the surface to the sea floor.
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