10 Plastic Pollution Facts You Don’t Know

It is shocking when you read about all these plastic pollution facts and realized that in the last 100 years humans caused more harm to nature than all years of its existence combined.

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Plastic Pollution Facts

These plastic pollution facts may shock you and hopefully change your mind and next time think twice before using a plastic bag or any plastic materials. Over the last ten years we have produced more plastic than during the whole of the last century. Most of the plastic ends up in landfills or in the ocean, where it can take up to 500 years to decompose while leaching toxic chemicals into the ground or water.

Of the 5800 million tons of primary plastic no longer in use, only 9 percent has been recycled since 1950.

1. It is estimated that around 8.8 billion tons of plastic have been produced worldwide

According to Huffpost over 8.3 billion tons of plastic has been produced since the 1950s. Only about 9% of this plastic has been recycled. Most of the plastic ends up in the ocean or between 1.1 and 8.8 metric tons of plastic each year.

The amount of plastic produced in a year is roughly the same as the entire weight of humanity.

2. Plastic in the Ocean Will Outweigh Fish by 2050

Most plastic packaging is used only once, which causes a loss of 95% of the value of plastic packaging material, worth over $100 billion annually, and ends up in the ocean or landfill and it could take a few hundred years to decompose. Scientists discovered a second garbage island – South Pacific garbage patch.

3. Plastic is made from nonrenewable fossil fuel

Petroleum oil, which isn’t sustainable and it is a nonrenewable fossil fuel that pollutes our air, is used to made plastic.

Plastic was initially seen as an invention that really made the lives of us humans simpler and more convenient.

The first synthetic plastics were derived from cellulose, a substance found in plants and trees. Cellulose was heated with chemicals and resulted in a new material that was extremely durable.

The raw materials for today’s plastics come from many places (some even use salt!), but most plastics can be made from hydrocarbons that are readily available in natural gas, oil and coal.

Microplastics pollution

4. Microplastics are a significant issue

Microplastics are smaller pieces of plastic results when plastic breaks down. They are hard to see and can easily get mixed and lead to further pollution and cause harm to animals. 

Microplastics have a high probability of ingestion, incorporation into, and accumulation in the bodies and tissues of many organisms. The toxic chemicals that come from both the ocean and runoff can also biomagnify up the food chain.

5. Plastic pollution affects humans too

We eat, drink and breathe microplastics every day. These small plastic particles may harm our health once they have entered our bodies. Scientists have found microplastics in 114 marine species, and almost one-third of these end up as our food source.

Several studies have found various links between plastic and the growing health problems today such as cardiovascular, respiratory, reproductive, and gastrointestinal systems.

6. A plastic bag is only used for about 12 minutes on average

100 billion plastic bags are used by Americans every year. According to Earth-Policy, tied together, they would reach around the Earth’s equator 773 times! New Yorkers alone use about 23 billion plastic bags each year.

Many countries are introducing legislation to phase-out lightweight plastic bags, because plastic never fully breaks down, causing everlasting pollution of plastics and environmental impacts. Every year, about 1 to 5 trillion plastic bags are used and discarded around the world.

7. For most plastic waste are responsible only 20 countries

Every year over 513 million tons of plastics end up in the oceans and 80% is from just 20 countries in the World. The top countries are China, India, America, Indonesia, Philippines, Vietnam, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Egypt, Malaysia, Nigeria, Bangladesh and South Africa.

8. A lot of water is used to make plastic

According to the Water Footprint Calculator, it takes 22 gallons of water to make one pound of plastic. In 2015 were produced 322 million metric tons (MMT) of plastics worldwide. Which corresponds to a total of water of 1.8×1011 L

9. There is an island of plastic waste with the size of Texas

This so-called the Great Pacific Garbage Patch (GPGP) now stretches 600,000 square miles, across the North Pacific Ocean. The patch has been uncovered by Captain Charles Moore and his team of volunteer researchers.

It was estimated to be approximately 80,000 tons, which is 4-16 times more than previous calculations. 

10. We use more than 500 million plastic straws each day

You may think plastic straws are small things but when you add the numbers the truth is shocking. Plastic straws can produce an enormous amount of plastic pollutions which ends up in the ocean and threatens marine life. 

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