When you picture the ocean, you probably imagine an underwater world teeming with life. Whether it’s fish ducking through rainbow-coloured coral reefs, or sharks eagerly pursuing their prey, you probably imagine it is pretty and picturesque.
Well it turns out you should probably revise that image, because in just 34 years the oceans will be loaded with plastic, not life. That’s right, plastic bags, cups, containers and all the other plastic crap humans dump into the ocean will soon outnumber the actual inhabitants who live there (by weight, anyway). That’s according to a report out of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, which was presented at the World Economic Forum.
While the news is certainly devastating, it shouldn’t be that much of a surprise. A study published in the journal Science last year found that 8 million metric tons of plastic waste pours into our oceans every year. And if you’ve never heard of the “Great Pacific Garbage Patch“, we highly recommend checking it out.
The reason plastic production is going to ramp up even more in the future is tied to the projected population increase (more people need more plastic products). So while the plastics industry currently accounts for six per cent of oil consumption, that number will shoot up to 20 per cent come 2050.
The good news is, the report provides possible solutions. It found that one of the largest problems with plastic products is that most are only used once, wasting “$80-120 billion annually”. As a result, it calls for water-soluble films to be used to wrap smaller items, while hard-to-recycle plastics could be phased out entirely.
Of course, for now, these are all just recommendations. Until the related industries respond, we’re all pretty much riding one big plastic wave to more polluted oceans of the future.
Now doesn’t that make you feel sea sick?