Production of plastics is growing exponentially. This year another 400 million tons of virgin plastic will be produced. Only 9% of all plastics ever produced have been recycled.
The global volume of plastic waste continues to grow, and some of the biggest producers don’t manage their waste effectively. While the United States, Japan and many European countries generate significant amounts of plastic waste, they’re also relatively good at managing it.
About half of all of the plastic waste that ends up in the oceans comes from just five countries: China, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam. These countries are experiencing rapid economic growth, but as these economies grow, consumption booms — and so does their use of plastic goods.
Data from “Plastic waste inputs from land into the ocean” by Jenna Jambeck and others, published in Science (2015). Map developed by UN Environment.
Common plastics found
in marine litter
92% of plastics entering the oceans are macroplastics.
Left alone, these plastics will break down into microplastics which enter the very beginning of the food chain, permeating through all species, including ourselves, with consequences which today we are only beginning to understand.
Polyethylene terephthalate (PET)
Water and drinks bottles.
High-density polyethylene (HDPE)
Shampoo and detergent bottles, plastic milk bottles, ice-cream containers.
Low-density polyethylene (LDPE)
Shopping bags, food packaging and film.
Straws, bottle tops, shampoo and detergent bottles, fruit crates.
Cutlery, plates and cups.
Fishing nets, ropes and cords.
Plastic stays in our
oceans for centuries
Where do plastics
12 million tons of plastic enter our oceans every year.
9 million tons
come from the land
1.75 million tons
come from fishing and shipping
0.95 million tons
enter directly as microplastics (vehicle tyre dust, paints, etc.)
Where do they go?
of plastics entering the oceans are macroplastics
enter the oceans as microplastics
Left alone these plastics will break down into microplastics which enter the very beginning of the food chain, permeating through all species, including ourselves, with consequences which today we are only beginning to understand.
The most common microplastic is vehicle tyre dust. 83% of drinking water samples worldwide contain microplastics.
Plastic kills millions of
marine animals every year
Marine debris is harming more than 800 species. 40% of marine mammals and 44% of seabird species are affected by marine debris ingestion. Marine pollution also causes biodiversity loss and hampers ecosystem functions and services.