Durable, light and incredibly versatile - in many ways plastic is a brilliant material. The problem is, it’s a bit too brilliant. When we no longer need it, it doesn’t go away.
Every year we make more than 300 million tonnes of plastic. That’s roughly the same weight as the entire human population. Of all the plastic waste ever produced, an astonishing 79% is now filling up landfills and polluting the natural environment.
Quite simply, plastic waste is one of the biggest environmental challenges facing society today.
Our oceans are arguably under the greatest threat. Eight million tonnes of plastics leak into them each year. That's one rubbish truck every minute. If we keep going as we are, there will be more plastic than fish in our oceans by 2050.
The damage plastic does to marine-life is catastrophic. Between entanglement, ecosystem damage and ingestion of microplastics, 700 million species are at threat from plastic every day. And harmful chemicals originating from plastic are finding their way up the food chain and onto our plates, too.
Single-use plastic is the main enemy. Half of the plastic we use, we use just once and throw away.
Around the world a million plastic bottles are bought every minute; less than half are recycled and just 7% end up as new bottles. 500 billion disposable cups are used every year. That’s one million cups a minute; just 1% are recycled. And between 500 billion and 1 trillion plastic bags are used annually. That’s more than one million bags every minute; again, less than 1% are recycled.
The astonishing statistics don’t stop there. The case for widespread change couldn’t be more clear.