If nothing changes, our oceans will be turned into plastic garbage dumps by 2040

The bad news: The global coronavirus pandemic has contributed to greater use of plastics. This probably means that even more of our litter will end up in the oceans this year. The long-term forecast is also not very colorful.

"It'll get even worse if we don't do anything," said Winnie Lau, co-author of a study that appeared in Science, whose authors looked at the amount of plastics that end up in the sea each year.

Even more plastic in the ocean

The conclusions presented by the authors are not very positive. If, in their opinion, we do not radically change the approach to the production and use of plastics, the amount of plastic entering the seas will increase very quickly from the current 11 million tons to 29 million tons per year. The worst-case scenario is that by 2040, mankind will put a total of around 600 million tonnes of plastic in the seas by 2040.

- Plastic pollution of the oceans is something that affects everyone. This is not "your problem, not mine", nor is it one country's problem. That's everyone's problem, adds Lau

The coronavirus has increased the production of disposable garbage

The International Artificial Waste Association reported that the single use of plastics has increased due to the coronavirus pandemic. This, of course, immediately translated into the amount of waste going to the sea. The problem is most evident in Asia, where plastic take-away packages, latex gloves and protective disposable face masks pile up on remote beaches and surrounding waters.

Lau and co-authors of the study warn that without major investments in the production of alternative and more environmentally friendly plastics and without further development of recycling technology, our planet will drown in plastic garbage.

Plastic garbage - a global threat

Even aside from the damage to marine ecosystems caused by the growing amount of microplastics in the oceans, an excess of unprocessed plastic rubbish is also threatening us.

We know from the research of scientists that shredded plastic particles can find themselves in quite unexpected places - in the salt that we use every day to season our dishes, in our food (even in fish) and the air floating over our cities (i.e. also in our system). breathing).

Our growing consumption of plastics is quite well illustrated by the data on the production of plastics - in 1950 we produced about 2 million tons per year. In 2017, it was already 347 million, and in 2040 - if we do not take any radical measures - the annual production of plastics will probably exceed 600 million tonnes.

Actions taken by the European Union offer some hope for changes. I am talking here, for example, about a new tax on plastic , which will be introduced from January 1, 2021. Social campaigns and building consumer awareness are not enough to radically reduce our consumption of plastic disposables. If the EU starts charging additional fees for the production of plastic itself, it may turn out that most sectors will immediately turn to greener solutions. For the benefit of all of us.

If nothing changes, our oceans will be turned into plastic rubbish dumps by 2040


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