Even as efforts to propagate environmental consciousness and awareness are being amped up, it seems the conservation measures are falling short as a new report gives the alarming projection that in the next three decades, our oceans will have more plastic than marine life.
According to the World Economic Forum and Ellen MacArthur Foundation's report released on Tuesday, come 2050, the dumping of non-biodegradable material into the ocean will overrun the presence of fish.
The report sheds light on the fact that over 8 million tons of plastic waste makes its way to the world's oceans every year. The plastic pieces are capable of surviving for several hundred years and worryingly, 165 million tons of plastic are currently present in the world's oceans.
Disturbingly, every minute, humans are projected to be dumping plastic that is equal to one garbage truck. If this does not sound alarm bells, then the estimation that the figure will jump to four garbage truck equivalents of waste per minute by 2050!
The danger signs are not restricted to this distressing projection as the report alerts that humans are on track to outnumber the current ratio of plastics: fish which stands presently at 1:5. Come 2050, there will be more plastic than fish.
The analysis is based on the premise that the mass of the entire ocean's fish is 1000 million tons. This number is not expected to decrease or increase substantially in the immediate decades. Therefore, based on this theory, come 2025, when the ocean will have an estimated 250 million tons of plastic, the plastic to fish ratio will stand at 1:3.
If this pattern continues for the next 25 years, then the ratio of plastic to fish will further reduce and stand at 1:1, with plastic having the edge.
Moreover, the rate at which plastic is deposited in the world's oceans is anticipated to increase by 4.8 percent every year till 2025. From 2025 to 2050, the rate of plastic deposition in the ocean will reduce marginally but stand at a worrying 3 percent every year.
What is the possible solution to this worrying future? A "new plastics economy" perhaps, wherein people recycle and reuse packaging, as well as deploy biodegradable plastic materials.
"This report demonstrates the importance of triggering a revolution in the plastics industrial ecosystem and is a first step to showing how to transform the way plastics move through our economy," said WEF's Dominic Waughray. "To move from insight to large scale action, it is clear that no one actor can work on this alone; the public, private sector and civil society all need to mobilize in order to capture the opportunity of the new circular plastics economy."
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Headquarters | Flickr