The results of the monitoring work carried out between 1999 and 2018 are summarised graphically in the figures below. (2017). The dominance of fishing lines, nets, hard plastics and films means that most of the mass in the GPGP had a large particle size (meso- and macroplastics). Available at: https://www.annualreviews.org/doi/pdf/10.1146/annurev-marine-010816-060409. Interaction – interaction includes collisions, obstructions, abrasions or use as substrate. The average time taken by plastic bottles to decompose in a landfill is close to 700 years. Global trade of plastic is discussed here. Whilst we try to tally ocean inputs with the amount floating in gyres at the centre of our oceans, most of it may be accumulating around the edges of the oceans. The production of plastic uses around 8% of the world’s oil production. However, authors were still surprised by the quantity of plastic accumulation in Southern oceans — while it was lower than in the Northern Hemisphere, it was still of the same order of magnitude. It may be the case that microplastics simply pass straight through the gastrointestinal tract without impact or interaction.65 A study of North Sea fish, for example, revealed that 80 percent of fish with detected microplastics contained only one particle — this suggests that following ingestion, plastic does not persist for long periods of time.66 Concentrations in mussels, in contrast, can be significantly higher. Share of global total mismanaged plastic waste. They wanted to understand where plastic accumulates, and how old it is: a few years old, ten years or decades? Microplastics in bivalves cultured for human consumption. (2014). These responses include oxidative stress, metabolic disruption, reduced enzyme activity, and cellular necrosis.40,41,42,43. Waste management statistics and overall recycling measures Key Highlights. A., Murk, A. J., & Koelmans, A. The production of plastic uses around eight percent of the world's oil production (bioplastics are not a … To understand the sources of ocean plastic pollution we must take into account multiple factors: proximity of given population centres to the coast, and national waste management strategies. Contact Us to ask a question, provide feedback, or report a problem. Plos One 9, e111913 (2014). Their results suggest that macroplastics can persist for decades; can be buried and resurfaced along shorelines; and end up in offshore regions years later. Available at: http://advances.sciencemag.org/content/4/6/eaat0131. The development of effective waste management infrastructure, particularly in middle-income countries, is therefore crucial to make progress against plastic pollution. Over this period, China imported between 7 and 9 million tonnes of plastic waste per year. In a Nature study, Lebreton et al. Collectively, China and Hong Kong have imported 72.4 percent of global traded plastic waste (with most imports to Hong Kong eventually reaching China).72, This came to an end in 2017. Packed in cubed … Available at: https://www.nature.com/articles/ncomms15611. Available at: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-017-09128-x. Nature Ecology & Evolution, 1(5), 0116. (2014) estimated that there was approximately 269,000 tonnes of plastic in surface waters across the world.18. Deaths from air pollution. With the largest population, China produced the largest quantity of plastic, at nearly 60 million tonnes. Jambeck et al. Check out our Frequent Questions page. Packaging was the dominant use of primary plastics, with 42 percent of plastics entering the use phase.6. This does not include ‘littered’ plastic waste, which is approximately 2% of total waste (including high-income countries).76, Mismanaged waste: material that is either littered or inadequately disposed (the sum of littered and inadequately disposed waste). The most well-known example of large plastic accumulations in surface waters is the so-called ‘Great Pacific Garbage Patch’ (GPGP). Deleterious effects of litter on marine life. A. While plastics are found in all major MSW categories, the containers and packaging category had the most plastic tonnage at over 14.5 million tons in 2018. As we see, basins in the Northern Hemisphere had the highest quantity of plastics. This plastic waste will have to be handled domestically or exported to another country. Royal Society Open Science, 1(4), 140317. 4.4 pounds: The amount of trash generated daily, on average, by every American. Food Additives & Contaminants: Part A, 31(9), 1574-1578. (2017). Latin America, the Middle East & North Africa, Europe and North America all fall in relative terms.12. An analysis by Rochman et al. Plastic waste is now the1 746 third largest category of municipal solid waste, after food and paper (Figure 1). In 2016, this figure was 7.35 million tonnes. Since microplastics are hydrophobic (insoluble), and are have a high surface area-to-volume ratio, they can sorb environmental contaminants.68 If there was significant accumulation of environmental contaminants, there is the possibility that these concentrations could ‘biomagnify’ up the food chain to higher levels.69 Biomagnification of PCBs varies by organism and environmental conditions; multiple studies have shown no evidence of uptake by the organisms of PCBs despite ingestion70 whilst some mussels, for example, have shown capability to transfer some compounds into their digestive glands.71. As we see in the following charts, there is high concentration of plastic within river systems geographically. Scientific Reports, 8(1), 4666. As of 2015, more than 6.9 billion tons of plastic waste had been generated. East Asia, in relative terms, will remain approximately constant. According to the EPA, 9.1% of plastic material generated in the U.S. Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) stream was recycled in 2015. 2013. In short, this report gives an insight In: Bergmann M., Gutow L., Klages M. (eds) Marine Anthropogenic Litter. The average American throws away approximately 185 pounds of plastic per year. Microplastic moves pollutants and additives to worms, reducing functions linked to health and biodiversity. In fact, scrap used to be America’s top export to China with plastic scrap exports reaching $11.3 billionin 2011. Considering the lack of coastal populations and plastic inputs in the Southern Hemisphere, this was an unexpected result. (The Balance Small Business) According to the … In the chart we see the global distribution of mismanaged plastic waste aggregated by world region. However, neither human exposure nor potential risk have been identified or quantified.61. Countries around the middle of the global income spectrum therefore tend to have the highest per capita mismanaged plastic rates. It has been documented for at least 233 marine species, including all marine turtle species, more than one-third of seal species, 59% of whale species, and 59% of seabirds.37 Ingestion by 92 species of fish and 6 species of invertebrates has also been recorded. This can transport plastic waste from further inland to coastal areas where it can enter the ocean. This goes against previous hypotheses of the ‘missing plastic’ problem which suggested that UV light and wave action degrade and remove them from the surface in only a few years. Chinese Ministry of Environmental Protection, âAnnouncement of releasing the Catalogues of Imported Wastes Management,â (Announcement no. After entry to oceans from coastal regions, plastics tend to migrate towards the centre of ocean basins. Synthetic particles as contaminants in German beers. It provides the latest business information on production and demand, trade, recovery as well as employment and turnover in the plastics industry. Environmental Science & Technology, 49(15), 8932-8947. Plastic fibres have also been detected in other food items; for example, honey, beer and table salt.62,63,64 But the authors suggested negligible health risks as a result of this exposure. (2017). Our World In Data is a project of the Global Change Data Lab, a registered charity in England and Wales (Charity Number 1186433). This chart shows the use of primary plastics by sector; in the chart we show these same sectors in terms of plastic waste generation. Available at: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/19440049.2013.843025. They therefore do not represent quantities of plastic at risk of loss to the ocean or other waterways. Plastics in the marine environment. Evidence of impacts of reduced food consumption include: Many organisms do not exhibit changes in feeding after microplastic ingestion. (2015). Burning waste is the world’s largest source of dioxins, which is one of the most toxic chemicals known to science. For context, this is roughly equivalent to the mass of two-thirds of the world population.3. Whilst this is the relative contribution as an aggregate of global ocean plastics, the relative contribution of different sources will vary depending on geographical location and context. Packaging is therefore the dominant generator of plastic waste, responsible for almost half of the global total. This is our main data entry on plastics, with a particular focus on its pollution of the environment. Biomagnification (sometimes termed ‘bioamplification’ or ‘biological magnification’), is the increasing concentration of a substance in the tissues of organisms at successively higher levels in a food chain. Available at: http://science.sciencemag.org/content/347/6223/768. Liebezeit, G., & Liebezeit, E. (2014). Please see the EPA Methodology Document for further information on estimating the generation and management of plastics. (2016)31 reviews the findings of peer-reviewed documentation of the impacts of marine plastic debris on animal life; the results of this study are presented in this table.32. Note this does not mean there is no plastic at risk of entering the natural environment — see the section on littering below. There is, currently, very little evidence of the impact that microplastics can have on humans. While overall the amount of recycled plastics is relatively small—three million tons for a 8.5 percent recycling rate in 2018—the recycling of some specific types of plastic containers is more significant. Li, W. C., Tse, H. F., & Fok, L. (2016). (2015) Micro- and Nano-plastics and Human Health. global primary production of plastic was 270 million tonnes; global plastic waste was 275 million tonnes – it did exceed annual primary production through wastage of plastic from previous years; plastic waste generated in coastal regions is most at risk of entering the oceans; in 2010 coastal plastic waste – generated within 50 kilometres of the coastline – amounted to 99.5 million tonnes; only plastic waste which is improperly managed (mismanaged) is at significant risk of leakage to the environment; in 2010 this amounted to 31.9 million tonnes; of this, 8 million tonnes – 3% of global annual plastics waste – entered the ocean (through multiple outlets, including rivers); Plastics in the oceans’ surface waters is several orders of magnitude lower than annual ocean plastic inputs. A., Thompson, R. C., & AmaralâZettler, L. A. In 2019, about 7.23 million tonnes of solid waste was generated, of which 4.25 million tonnes were recycled. Jambeck, J. R., Geyer, R., Wilcox, C., Siegler, T. R., Perryman, M., Andrady, A., â¦ & Law, K. L. (2015). Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25563688. In the case of microplastics (particles smaller than 4.75 millimeter in diameter), the key concern is ingestion. A., & Fullana, A. Lebreton, L., Slat, B., Ferrari, F., Sainte-Rose, B., Aitken, J., Marthouse, R., â¦ & Noble, K. (2018). However, rapid growth in global plastic production was not realized until the 1950s. It takes 500 years for average sized plastic water bottles to fully decompose. Eriksen, M. et al. The distribution and accumulation of ocean plastics is strongly influenced by oceanic surface currents and wind patterns. How much plastic has the world produced cumulatively? The implications of this complexity are two-fold: in many cases it is convenient for countries to export their recycled plastic waste (meaning they don’t have to handle it domestically); and for importing countries, this plastic is often discarded if it doesn’t meet the sufficient requirements for recycled or is contaminated by non-recyclable plastic. As such, ‘lethal concentration’ (LC) values which are often measured and reported for contaminants do not exist. Available at: http://oro.open.ac.uk/47539/. This makes it a valuable material for many functions. Eriksen, M., Lebreton, L. C., Carson, H. S., Thiel, M., Moore, C. J., Borerro, J. C., â¦ & Reisser, J. Packaging, for example, has a very short ‘in-use’ lifetime (typically around 6 months or less). There are 25 trillion pieces of plastic debris in the ocean. In the chart we see estimates of the mass of plastics in surface ocean waters by ocean basin. One key input is through river systems. In 2015, primary plastics production was 407 million tonnes; around three-quarters (302 million tonnes) ended up as waste. Jabeen, K., Su, L., Li, J., Yang, D., Tong, C., Mu, J., & Shi, H. (2017). Most disconcertingly, the overwhelming amount and mass of marine plastic debris is beyond visual, made of microscopic range fragmented plastic debris that … For more comprehensive information, see the 2018 Data Tables on the Advancing Sustainable Materials Management: Facts and Figures Report page. The plastic waste tide we are faced with is not only obvious for us to clearly see washed up on shore or bobbing at sea. 18. Chemosphere, 186, 10-16. The Environmental Protection Department is closely monitoring the quantities of different types of solid waste disposed of at various waste facilities. (2015). Of course, not all of our plastic waste ends up in the ocean, most ends up in landfills: it’s estimated that the share of global plastic waste that enters the ocean is around 3%.22 In 2010 – the year for which we have the latest estimates – that was around 8 million tonnes.23, Most of the plastic materials we produce are less dense than water and should therefore float at the ocean surface. Plastic in our oceans can arise from both land-based or marine sources. That’s the equivalent of setting five garbage … This was followed by the United States at 38 million, Germany at 14.5 million and Brazil at 12 million tonnes. Science, 347(6223), 768-771. IÃ±iguez, M. E., Conesa, J. Help us do this work by making a donation. This makes it at risk of leakage and transport to the natural environment and oceans via waterways, winds and tides. (2018) suggest this ban has several implications: In the chart we show the plastic waste generate rate per person versus gross domestic product (GDP) per capita. This is followed by Africa at 7.8 percent, and South America at 4.8 percent. In 2018, plastics generation was 35.7 million tons in the United States, which was 12.2 percent of MSW generation. Worldwide, this year. Note that these figures represent total plastic waste generation and do not account for differences in waste management, recycling or incineration. The authors aimed to quantify where plastic accumulates in the ocean across three environments: the shoreline (defined as dry land bordering the ocean), coastal areas (defined as waters with a depth less than 200 meters) and offshore (waters with a depth greater than 200 meters). Nature News, 536(7616), 263. In some cases, energy recovery from the incineration process is possible. Plastic recycling results in significant energy savings compared with the production of new plastics using virgin material. Manufacturers also use plastic in durable goods, such as appliances, furniture, casings of lead-acid batteries and other products. Scientific Reports 3:3263. Available at: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0045653517311724. Nonetheless, despite many documented cases, it’s widely acknowledged that the full extent of impacts on ecosystems is not yet known. Wright, S., Rowe, D., Thompson, R. C. & Galloway, T. S. Microplastic ingestion decreases energy reserves in marine worms. Recycled plastic waste is now a product within the global commodity market — it is sold and traded across the world. This discrepancy is known as the ‘missing plastic problem’ and is discussed. There are a few exceptions: common goby exposure to polyethylene and pyrene; Asian green mussels exposed to polyvinylchloride (PVC); and Daphnia magna neonates exposed to polyethylene45,46,47. This data is also presented in the review by Law (2017): Law, K. L. (2017). Why then do we find at least 100 times less plastics in our surface waters? Microplastic pollution in table salts from China. Current Biology 23:2388â92. Plastic waste breakdown by polymer type can be found here. This makes the improvement of waste management systems across the world critical to reducing plastic pollution. Ingestion of plastics can have multiple impacts on organism health. What could cause concern about the impact of microplastics? At the end of that year China introduced a complete ban on the imports of non-industrial plastic waste.73. You may find the answer to additional questions on this topic there. Revel, M., ChÃ¢tel, A., & Mouneyrac, C. (2018). 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