Plastic pollution. An untenable situation

Plastic pollution has become a problem of a worrying magnitude that not only negatively influences climate change, but also floods our oceans, kills wildlife, infiltrates our food chain and harms our health, potentially affecting fertility and hormonal, metabolic and neurological activity.

Such are its dimensions that it has gone from two million tons in 1950 to 348 million in 2017 and estimates suggest that this amount will double by 2040.

In this context, the last Assembly of the United Nations for the Environment, held in Nairobi from February 28 to March 2, 2022, focused on this global catastrophe, acquiring the commitment to forge a legally binding international agreement by the end of of 2024, which will contemplate the complete life cycle of plastic, including its production, design and disposal.

Plastic, a cheap, lightweight and easy-to-produce material, has experienced exponential growth since the beginning of the 20th century, which is causing us more inconveniences than advantages. This is revealed by the data provided by the United Nations (UN) in its latest environmental report that alarm us about the need to take immediate measures to reduce or eliminate use.

10 figures from the UN to show the damage that plastics do to the planet

1. Around 13 million tons of plastic are dumped into the oceans each year, affecting biodiversity, the economy and people's health.

2.America, Japan and the European Union are the largest producers of plastic waste per capita and only 9% of the 9,000 million tons of plastic that have been produced in the world has been recycled.

3. If the same trend continues, in 2050 we will have close to 12,000 million tons of plastic waste in landfills and in nature.

4. Five billion plastic bags are used every year and one million plastic bottles are bought every minute. Nearly 70% or more go into the environment or landfills.

5. Microplastics have been detected in commercial table salt and some studies state that 90% of bottled water and 83% of tap water.

6. Every year 300 million tons of plastic waste are produced, which is equivalent to the weight of the entire human population.

7. According to the environmental advocacy group, Ocean Conservancy, in 2017, for the first time, plastic made it into the top 10 for items collected in the oceans, leaving glass bottles off the list.

8. According to the data provided by Greenpeace, between 60% and 80% of marine debris is plastic and the majority are fragments smaller than five millimeters, that is, micro plastics.

9. An average of 200 plastic bags are used per person per year and they take around 400 years to degrade.

10. How long do plastics take to decompose?

  • Bottles: 500 years
  • Cutlery: 400 years
  • Straws: 100 years
  • Glasses: 65-75 years
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