There is already enough plastic in the ocean to circle the earth 425 times, and over the next 10 years, there could be much more.
And despite efforts to reduce, reuse, and recycle plastic products as well as countries who have banned plastic use in some instances, experts predict that plastic production will increase by 40% in the next ten years, the Guardian reported.
Fossil fuel companies have invested more than $180 billion into building plastic production facilities over the last seven years, according to the Guardian. And that money will fund the building of more plastic production facilities in the next decade, going against the trend of rising concerns over plastic use and production.
In August, Kenya joined Rwanda and other countries in banning plastic bags, and France banned disposable plastic cups and plates last year, while the the United Nations signed a resolution to eliminate plastic in the ocean just this month, Reuters reported.
The resolution was just the UN’s latest show of commitment to a pollution-free planet, UN Environment launched the #CleanSeas campaign, aimed at reducing plastic production, earlier this year. The UN Sustainable Development goals also include environmental sustainability targets.
But even with these initiatives to cut plastic use and clean up the environment, “we could be locking in decades of expanded plastics production at precisely the time the world is realising we should use far less of it,” Carroll Muffett, president of the US Center for International Environmental Law, told the Guardian.
The massive sums of money that have already been spent and committed to increasing plastic production could spell disaster for the planet.
According to the American Chemistry Council’s chief economist, Kevin Swift, the increase in plastic production facilities is directly linked to the increase in fracking and shale gas technologies in the US, which has dramatically decreased the costs of producing plastic.
The amount of plastic currently produced in a year weighs about the same amount as all of humanity, according to the Guardian. Plastic can take up to 450 years to decompose and though millions of tons of plastic are created every year, only 9% of that is recycled, meaning that 91% ends up in landfills, in oceans, and in the bellies of marine life.
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