10 Frightening Facts About Plastic Pollution We All Need To Know

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Plastic is terrible for the planet. David Attenborough and the Blue Planet II team brought the issue home.

10 Frightening Facts About Plastic Pollution We All Need To Know

Plastic is terrible for the planet. David Attenborough and the Blue Planet II team brought the issue home. Brilliantly, we now hear about it all the time.


Countries and cities around the globe are banning plastic use left, right, and center and the call for the end of single-use plastics is reaching a historically high number.


Stores like Iceland and Ikea have introduced plastic bans which will go into effect within the following years. Plastic straws and cutlery have also been targeted by several retailers, such as McDonald’s in the United Kingdom, and having a plastic bag is enough to get you at ticket to jail in several countries.


Several governments and organizations are doing their part to lower plastic use and better the environment. However, as everyday consumers, it’s essential for you to know how and why the end of plastic use is so vital.


Here are ten lesser-known facts about plastic you need to know.


1. In the past 50 years, world plastic production has doubled.


While constantly increasing numbers of organizations and countries are banning plastic use and production, the leading plastic manufacturers in the world are planning to increase production by almost a third over the following five years, as the World Economic Forum reports.


In 1974, global plastic consumption every year was two kilograms (4.4 pounds) per capita. Today, this has raised to 43 kilograms (about 95 pounds) — and this number is still set to rise.


If plastic consumption keeps going up at its current rate, as National Geographic reported, by 2050 there'll be 12 billion metric tons total of plastic in landfills.


2. Since the 1950s, approximately 8.3 billion tons of plastic have been produced worldwide.


According to the Guardian, approximately 8.3 billion tons of plastic have been produced since the 1950s — this is equivalent to the weight of over 800,000 Eiffel Towers.


Also, only 9 percent of it has been recycled.


3. In some places around the world, using plastic is already illegal.


Kenya introduced one of the strictest laws in the world against plastic bags in 2017. Now, Kenyans that are caught producing, selling, or using plastic bags will risk imprisonment for up to four years or fines of about $40,000 (£31,000).


Other countries which have banned, partially banned, or taxed single-use plastic bags include France, China, Rwanda, and Italy.


You can find out about other countries and cities which have brought in extraordinary plastic bans here.


4. 73 percent of beach litter worldwide is plastic.


According to National Geographic, 73 percent of all beach litter is plastic. The litter includes bottles, bottle caps, food wrappers, filters from cigarette butts, grocery bags, and polystyrene containers.According to National Geographic, 73 percent of all beach litter is plastic. The litter includes bottles, bottle caps, food wrappers, filters from cigarette butts, grocery bags, and polystyrene containers.


5. One million plastic bottles are bought across the world per minute.


A report by the Guardian found that one million plastic bottles are bought around the globe every minute. The number is set to increase by another 20 percent by 2021 unless we act.


According to the same report, over 480 billion plastic drinking bottles were purchased in 2016 across the globe — up from 300 billion a decade ago.


Besides, less than half of the bottles purchased in 2016 were recycled — with only 7 percent of those collected turned into new bottles, and the rest ending up in landfill sites or the ocean.


6. Worldwide, about two million plastic bags are used every minute.


This may seem like an unbelievable number, but according to Ecowatch, between 500 billion and one trillion plastic bags are utilyzed annually across the Globe.


New Yorkers alone utilyze 23 billion plastic bags each year, according to the New York City Department of Environmental Conservation.


Bans on the use of plastic bags are already proving to be extremely useful in the countries that have them. In the United Kingdom, for instance, the introduction of a 5p plastic bag charge introduced in 2015 has brought about an 83 percent reduction in plastic bag use.


While Britain still creates 1.3 billion plastic bags per year, according to a government report issued in the spring of 2017, the fall in use marks notable progress.


10 Frightening Facts About Plastic Pollution We All Need To Know

Flickr: Alan Levine


7. Only ten rivers carry 90 percent of plastic polluting our oceans.


According to World Economic Forum researchers, just ten rivers across Asia and Africa carry 90 percent of the plastic that ends up finally in the oceans.


The study indicates that 8 of these are in Asia: the Indus, the Yellow, the Hai He, the Ganges, the Pearl, the Amur, the Yangtze, and the Mekong. Two of the rivers are in Africa: the Nile and the Niger.


As the WEF added, the two characteristics all these rivers named share is a very high population living in the area and a poor waste management system.


8. Plastic is killing over 1.1 million seabirds and animals each year.


According to the UN, ingestion of plastic kills an estimated one million marine birds and 100,000 marine animals every year.


Furthermore, over 90 percent of all birds and fish are thought to have plastic particles in their stomach. It’s because plastic breaks up into small pieces in the sea, which are then consumed by fish and other sea animals.


Researchers from Plymouth University have discovered that close to 700 species of marine life are facing extinction because of the increase in plastic pollution.


9. The average person eats 70,000 microplastics every year.


This works out to about 100 bits of microplastic throughout only one meal, based on a study published in Environmental Pollution.


A group of researchers working in the United Kingdom put petri dishes with sticky surfaces right next to dinner plates in three houses. After just 20 minutes, the dishes accumulated 14 microplastics on average.


10. The average amount of time a plastic bag is used for is … 12 minutes.


Yes, that’s right — they are used for an average of 12 minutes and they can take up to a thousand years to decompose.


Global Citizen campaigns to achieve the United Nation’s Global Goals to end extreme poverty by 2030. Those include action on improving life on land and below water, as well as creating sustainable communities and cities. You can join by taking action here.

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Thinking Humanity: 10 Frightening Facts About Plastic Pollution We All Need To Know
10 Frightening Facts About Plastic Pollution We All Need To Know
Plastic is terrible for the planet. David Attenborough and the Blue Planet II team brought the issue home.
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