Plastic Wastes in the Ocean Photo: Shutterstock

Plastic wastes in oceans destroying marine life to triple by 2040: Study

*Plastic pollution is something that affects everyone ─Experts

*Recommends redirecting focus on plastic production investment into alternative materials, recycling facilities, waste collection expansion

*Big plastic buyers express commitment to use recycled content in products in future

Isola Moses | ConsumerConnect

The amount of plastic wastes flowing into the ocean and killing marine life could triple in the next 20 years, unless companies and governments can drastically reduce plastic production.

Agency report indicates a new study published Thursday, July 23, 2020, said single-use plastic consumption has increased especially during the Coronavirus pandemic, according to the International Solid Waste Association, a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO).

Scientists and industry experts for The Pew Charitable Trusts and SYSTEMIQ conducted the new research, which recommends solutions that could cut the projected volume of plastic entering the ocean by more than 80%.

It was learnt that nose masks and latex gloves are washing up daily on Asia’s remote beaches.

In the latest research, landfills worldwide are said to be piled high with record amounts of takeaway food containers and online delivery packaging.

The roadmap for stemming the runaway ocean plastic waste crisis is among the most detailed ever offered in a study, report said.

According to the study published in the journal Science, it is noted that if no action is taken, however, the amount of plastic going into the sea every year will rise from 11 million tonnes to 29 million tonnes, leaving a cumulative 600 million tonnes swilling in the ocean by 2040, the equivalent weight of 3 million blue whales.

“Plastic pollution is something that affects everyone. It isn’t a ‘your problem and not my problem’. It’s not one country’s problem. It’s everyone’s problem,” said Winnie Lau, Senior Manager at Pew and co-author of the study.

Lau stressed that “it’s going to get worse if we don’t do anything.”

Report says the strategy laid out in the fresh research includes redirecting hundreds of billions of Dollars in plastic production investment into alternative materials, recycling facilities and waste collection expansion in developing countries.

This would require a U-turn by the energy industry, which is rapidly building new chemical plants around the world to boost plastic output as its traditional fuel business is eroded by a rise in cleaner energy sources.

The amount of plastic produced annually has been climbing fast since 1950, when global production totalled 2 million tonnes.

In 2017, that number was 348 million tonnes, and is expected to double again by 2040, the study estimates.

Big plastic makers, including ExxonMobil, Dow and Chevron Phillips Chemical, have said they are committed to tackling plastic pollution, despite increasing production.

The projects they fund focus on cleaning up waste, according to the report.

The study recommends that governments implement laws to discourage new plastic production and provide subsidies for reusable alternatives.

The plastic industry has lobbied against government bans on single-use plastic.

Some of the biggest buyers of plastic are consumer goods companies such as Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, Nestle and Unilever.

They have all made commitments to use a greater amount of recycled content in products in the future.

But current government and corporate commitments will only reduce the amount of plastic flowing into the ocean by 7 percent by 2040, the Pew and SYSTEMIQ study finds.

The study notes that in cutting the flow of ocean plastic by 80%, paper or compostable alternatives to single-use plastic would be needed and packaging should be redesigned to more than double the share of recyclable material.

Some criticised the study’s inclusion of incineration, chemical recycling and plastic-to-fuel plants as ways to dispose of waste, saying these methods involve the release of climate-warming carbon emissions while also helping to sustain plastic production.

Von Hernandez, Global Coordinator at Break Free From Plastic, an NGO, remarked that instead, “we would be putting more emphasis on the need for reduction and stemming production of plastics.

“If industry were allowed to continue with their projections of growth up to 2050, which quadruples production during this time, most of the recommendations from this report will be meaningless.”

Kindly Share This Story