Quick Bites | The curse of plastic pollution

Some might argue that a note about plastic pollution is hardly relevant to an investment blog. But this writer takes another view: there are important matters that affect us all, and we have a responsibility to be aware of the facts and more importantly, to do something positive with that information.

When future generations share the story of plastic pollution, it will probably include graphic images of turtles choking on plastic debris, rivers and beaches heaving with garbage, and medical reports showing microplastics in our children’s bloodstreams. This is a story that started as a nuisance, developed into an environmental crisis, but is now an economic and health catastrophe. And it’s a story that intersects with the other crises we are grappling with today: biodiversity, climate, and pollution.

According to the World Bank, of the 460 million tons of plastic produced in 2019, 353 million tons were discarded. This disposing includes recycling (globally less than 9%), discarding in unmanaged dumps or incinerated, and worst of all left to poison the environment.

Source: OECD


A few ugly statistics (approximations sourced from a range of Governments, non-Government organisations and international bodies):

  • 8 million pieces of plastic pollution make their way into the ocean every day.
  • 14 million tonnes of plastic is dumped into the ocean every year.
  • 80% of all studied marine debris is plastic.
  • 5.25 trillion macro and microplastics may now be floating in the open ocean, weighing up to 269,000 tonnes.
  • 100,000 marine mammals and turtles and 1 million sea birds are killed by marine plastic pollution every year.
  • Plastics account for 3.4% of global greenhouse gas emissions.



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