Coast KZN

27 Mar 2017

Enviro Monday: More microplastic bits in our oceans than stars in our galaxy

Caxton Cemtral- Zululand Observer


As many as 51 trillion microplastic particles – 500 times more than the stars in our galaxy – litter our seas, seriously threatening marine wildlife and our health.

The United Nations (UN) recently declared war on ocean plastic.

UN Environment launched a global campaign to eliminate major sources of marine litter – microbeads in cosmetics and the excessive, wasteful usage of single-use plastic – by the year 2022.

Launched at the Economist World Ocean Summit in Bali, the Clean Seas campaign is:

Urging governments to pass plastic reduction policies;
targeting industry to minimise plastic packaging and to redesign products;
and calling on consumers to change their throwaway habits.

Most of the litter in the sea is plastic
Each year, more than 8 million tonnes of plastic ends up in the oceans, wreaking havoc on marine wildlife, fisheries and tourism, and costing billions in damage to marine ecosystems. Up to 80 percent of all litter in our oceans is made of plastic.

At the rate we are dumping items such as plastic bottles, bags and cups after a single use, by 2050 oceans will carry more plastic than fish and an estimated 99 percent of seabirds will have ingested plastic.

Erik Solheim, Head of UN Environment, said, “It is past time that we tackle the plastic problem that blights our oceans. Plastic pollution is surfing onto Indonesian beaches, settling onto the ocean floor at the North Pole, and rising through the food chain onto our dinner tables. We’ve stood by too long as the problem has gotten worse. It must stop.”

What you can do to help

Today, we are producing twenty times more plastic than in the 1960s. Around one third of all plastic is used for packaging. By 2050 our plastic production will have to grow three to four times to satisfy our demand. A large portion will end up in oceans where it will remain for centuries.