The Oceans are Choking from Plastic Pollution
Plastic now makes up 90% of all trash floating on the ocean surface.
Did you know that Plastic is a substance the earth cannot digest? That’s right – it never goes away. Every year, we use 17 million barrels of oil to make plastic. Plastic now makes up 90% of all trash floating on the ocean surface. There are 5.25 trillion pieces of plastic trash in the world’s oceans, and each year, 8 million tons of plastic are added to the count. That’s equivalent to one municipal garbage truck pulling up to the beach and dumping its contents every minute. And According to a report by the Ocean Conservancy, in partnership with the McKinsey Center for Business and Environment, by 2025, the ocean could contain one ton of plastic for every three tons of finfish. By 2050, the oceans will contain more plastic than fish by weight.
These sentences are very sobering! And here’s another statistic on plastic pollution I bet you didn’t know…
…Each day we use 500 million plastic straws!
Andreas Merkl, CEO of the Ocean Conservancy said, “It’s reaching crisis proportions. Plastic breaks down into small pieces that look like plankton and is eaten by everyone from plankton to whales. Plastic acts as a pollution sponge in the ocean, so when wildlife ingest pieces, the plastic might as well be a poison pill.”
A recent report from the Ocean Conservancy wants to focus on “improving waste management systems in a handful of developing contrives that are most responsible for the plastic leakage into the ocean. China, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam contribute more than half of the oceans’ plastic since their waste infrastructure hasn’t kept up with rapid industrialization.” In fact, Merkl explains, “Five countries would solve half the problem.” He continues and says, “On average, only about 40% of waste in these countries is actually picked up for disposal. But it’s not just uncollected waste floating around–though that is three-fourths of the problem. The other quarter of the oceans’ plastic came from post-collection activities. Even when a waste management company picks up waste to landfill it, poorly insulated landfills or illegal dumping mean that trash still ends up in the ocean.”
So you know the problem but how can it be tackled? The Ocean Conservancy report says there are “five levers: (1) waste collection services, (2) closing the leakage points within the collection system, (3) gasification and (4) incineration of waste, and (5) recycling facilities.” The report goes on and says, “The average waste collection rate in the countries of interest is barely above 40%–meaning the majority of waste ends up as litter. Just by expanding collection systems and plugging up their leakage points, the report says plastics leakage could by cut by 50% by 2020.”
As more information on plastic pollution and our oceans develops, I’ll be sure to blog about it.
If you see any sick or injured manatees, please call the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission at: 1-888-404-FWCC. They are the folks who are responsible for rescuing us in Florida.
Here’s the Save the Manatee Club link to learn more about us manatees …
Here’s a cool link for you to learn more about how we’re rescued and brought into rehabilitation …
~ Kobee Manatee