Plastics may only account for about 10% of man-made waste, but plastic production has ballooned by 650% since 1975, reaching 270 million tons in 2010.
“As plastics take hundreds to thousands of years to degrade, we are still living with every piece of plastic ever made Estimates are that by 2050 there will be more plastic (by weight) than fish in the ocean,” says WWF-SA ahead of Earth Day tomorrow.
Earth Day is marked in 192 countries, with this year’s theme being to curb single-use plastics to “end plastic pollution engulfing our oceans and affecting human health”.
“Single-use plastics, such as sweet wrappers, ear buds, plastic cutlery, coffee lids and straws, are particularly problematic as they are not recyclable and are highly prone to littering and being blown around in the wind. Plastic shopping bags are also a problem as many are not recyclable due to the inclusion of calcium carbonate fillers.
“Plastics are found throughout food webs in every known marine ecosystem. While it is tempting to brush over this problem as something that occurs out of sight, as consumers we need to recognise that over 80% of the plastic pollution in our oceans is generated on land by ordinary people like us.”
John Duncan, senior manager of WWF-SA’s marine programme, says: “If we want to chart a new course, we need to start asking ourselves ‘which are the plastics we can live without and how we can better manage the ones we can’t’.”
In a statement, Greenpeace Africa says: “The truth is that single-use plastics are creating landfills enough to make a country, filling up our oceans and killing marine life around the globe. Plastic has been found in drinking water all around the world, and it’s making its way into our food.”