Plastic pollution flowing into oceans to triple by 2040 – study

FILE PHOTO: Plastic and other debris are seen on the shores of Cap Haitian beach, in Cap Haitian, Haiti October 9, 2018. REUTERS/Ricardo Rojas

The amount of plastic waste flowing into the ocean and killing marine life could triple in the next 20 years, unless companies and governments can drastically reduce plastic production, a new study published on Thursday said.

Single-use plastic consumption has increased during the coronavirus pandemic, according to the International Solid Waste Association, an NGO. Face masks and latex gloves are washing up daily on Asia’s remote beaches. Landfills worldwide are piled high with record amounts of takeaway food containers and online delivery packaging. 

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

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

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, according to the study published in the journal Science.

“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.