Facts about Plastic Pollution.
- In the Los Angeles area alone, 10 metric tons of plastic fragments—like grocery bags, straws and soda bottles—are carried into the Pacific Ocean every day.
- Over the last ten years we have produced more plastic than during the whole of the last century.
- 50 percent of the plastic we use, we use just once and throw away.
- Enough plastic is thrown away each year to circle the earth four times.
- We currently recover only five percent of the plastics we produce.
- The average American throws away approximately 185 pounds of plastic per year.
- Plastic accounts for around 10 percent of the total waste we generate.
- The production of plastic uses around eight percent of the world’s oil production (bioplastics are not a good solution as they require food source crops).
- Americans throw away 35 billion plastic water bottles every year (source: Brita)
- Plastic in the ocean breaks down into such small segments that pieces of plastic from a one liter bottle could end up on every mile of beach throughout the world.
- Annually approximately 500 billion plastic bags are used worldwide. More than one million bags are used every minute.
- 46 percent of plastics float (EPA 2006) and it can drift for years before eventually concentrating in the ocean gyres.
- It takes 500-1,000 years for plastic to degrade.
- Billions of pounds of plastic can be found in swirling convergences in the oceans making up about 40 percent of the world’s ocean surfaces. 80 percent of pollution enters the ocean from the land.
- The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is located in the North Pacific Gyre off the coast of California and is the largest ocean garbage site in the world. This floating mass of plastic is twice the size of Texas, with plastic pieces outnumbering sea life six to one.
- Plastic constitutes approximately 90 percent of all trash floating on the ocean’s surface, with 46,000 pieces of plastic per square mile.
- One million sea birds and 100,000 marine mammals are killed annually from plastic in our oceans.
- 44 percent of all seabird species, 22 percent of cetaceans, all sea turtle species and a growing list of fish species have been documented with plastic in or around their bodies.
- In samples collected in Lake Erie, 85 percent of the plastic particles were smaller than two-tenths of an inch, and much of that was microscopic. Researchers found 1,500 and 1.7 million of these particles per square mile.
- Virtually every piece of plastic that was ever made still exists in some shape or form (with the exception of the small amount that has been incinerated).
- Plastic chemicals can be absorbed by the body—93 percent of Americans age six or older test positive for BPA (a plastic chemical).
- Some of these compounds found in plastic have been found to alter hormones or have other potential human health effects.
- A plastic milk jug takes 1 million years to decompose.
- A plastic cup can take 50 – 80 years to decompose.
- Recycled plastic can be used to make things like trash cans, park benches, playground equipment, decks, and kayaks.
- Special fleece-like fabrics used in clothes and blankets can be made out of recycled plastic bottles.
- Americans use 2.5 million plastic bottles every HOUR.
- Plastic bags and other plastic garbage thrown into the ocean kill as many as 1 million sea creatures every year.
- Recycling plastic saves twice as much energy as burning it in an incinerator.
- A United States law, implementing an international agreement called MARPOL Annex V, became effective on December 31, 1988. It prohibits the disposal of plastics into the marine environment and requires ports to provide reception facilities for ship-generated plastic waste.
- Today, Americans generate 10.5 million tons of plastic waste a year but recycle only 1 or 2 % of it.
- An estimated 14 billion pounds of trash, much of it plastic is dumped in the world’s oceans every year.
- The worldwide fishing industry dumps an estimated 150,000 tons of plastic into the ocean each year, including packaging, plastic nets, lines, and buoys.
- About 1,200 plastic soft drink and salad dressing containers could carpet the average living room.
- Every year we make enough plastic film to shrink-wrap the state of Texas.
- Nearly every piece of plastic EVER made still exists today.
– One is confronted today with plastic debris in almost all the seas and rivers in the world … even in the most remote of areas that were, until recently, considered pristine!
– In the oceans, plastic particles attract toxins. When birds and fish eat the microplastic, it enters the food chain … and humans occupy the top position of that food chain.
– Almost all the plastic ever made is still in existence in some shape or form. Experts predict that plastic may be able to last for up to a thousand years.
– It is estimated that globally 60% to 85% of all consumer waste is disposed of in open or controlled landfill.
– An estimated 4.7 million tonnes of plastic finds its way into the oceans each year. That’s an average of 12,000 tonnes per day.
– The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) estimates 100,000 marine mammals and at least a million seabirds are killed by marine debris every year.
– More plastic has been produced in the last ten years than during the entire last century.
– We currently produce more than 250 million tonnes of plastic per year. About half of this is used just once and is then immediately discarded.
– Each year, 500 billion plastic bags are used globally. That is more than one million bags per minute.
A plastic bag has an average “life span” of 15 minutes.
The IVAM Research bureau has calculated that each year in the Netherlands, over a billion bags are given away for free, and nearly half a billion are sold by supermarkets.
In the US alone, 60 million plastic bottles are discarded daily.
– Plastic production uses 8% of the world’s oil; 4% of this is actually used in energy consumption to make the plastic.
Plastic Soup Click for video
In just 25 years, our consumption rate of plastic bags has grown from almost zero to our use of over 500,000,000,000 (that’s 500 billion) plastic bags annually … almost 1 million per minute.
- According to The Wall Street Journal, the U.S. goes through 100 billion plastic shopping bags annually. An estimated 12 million barrels of oil is required to make that many plastic bags.
- Four out of five grocery bags in the US are now plastic.
- Plastic bags cause hundreds of thousands of birds, sea turtle and other marine animal deaths every year because these creatures mistake plastic trash for food.
- Countries like China, Ireland, Australia, Bangladesh have banned or have placed restrictions on single use plastic bags.
- Taiwan banned plastic bag and plastic utensils as a way to reduce 60,000 metric tons of waste per year they deal with each year
- According to the BBC, only 1 in 200 plastic bags in the UK are recycled. Our record in the US isn’t any better.
- Target, the second-largest retailer in the U.S. purchases 1.8 billion bags a year. They just announced a new program to give consumers a nickel back for each reusable bag they bring into their stores when they shop.
- Target (Australia) completely banned single use plastic bags in their stores in 2008.
- The average family accumulates 60 plastic bags in only four trips to the grocery store.
- Each high quality reusable bag you use has the potential to eliminate an average of 1,000 plastic bags over its lifetime.
- Americans use 2.5 million plastic bottles every HOUR. Each of us creates 1,500 lbs of trash every year that has to be disposed of that could be recycled with a little effort.
Thanks to Reusable Bags for these updated facts on plastic bag pollution Introduced just over 25 years ago, the ugly truth about our plastic bag addiction is that society’s consumption rate is now estimated at well over 500,000,000,000 (that’s 500 billion) plastic bags annually, or almost 1 million per minute.Single-use bags made of high-density polyethylene (HDPE) are the main culprit. Once brought into existence to tote your purchases, they’ll accumulate and persist on our planet for up to 1,000 years. Australians alone consume about 6.9 billion plastic bags each year, that’s 326 per person. According to Australia’s Department of Environment, an estimated 49,600,000 annually end up as litter. In 2001, Ireland used 1.2 billion disposable plastic bags, or 316 per person.An extremely successful plastic bag tax, or PlasTax, introduced in 2002 reduced consumption by 90%. According to The Wall Street Journal, the U.S. goes through 100 billion plastic shopping bags annually. An estimated 12 million barrels of oil are required to make that many plastic bags. Four out of five grocery bags in the US are now plastic. In a dramatic move to stem a tide of 60,000 metric tons of plastic bag and plastic utensil waste per year, Taiwan banned both last year. According to the BBC, only 1 in 200 plastic bags in the UK are recycled. According to the WSJ Target, the second-largest retailer in the U.S., purchases 1.8 billion bags a year. As part of Clean Up Australia Day, in one day nearly 500,000 plastic bags were collected. Unfortunately, each year in Australia an estimated 50,000,000 plastic bags end up as litter. The average family accumulates 60 plastic bags in only four trips to the grocery store. Each high quality reusable bag you use has the potential to eliminate an average of 1,000 plastic bags over its lifetime. The bag will pay for itself if your grocery store offers a $.05 or $.10 credit per bag for bringing your own bags. Windblown plastic bags are so prevalent in Africa that a cottage industry has sprung up harvesting bags and using them to weave hats, and even bags. According to the BBC one group harvests 30,000 per month.